Hello Dear Reader,
My name is Ashley Urban. I am the founder of the Ashley Urban brand. My brand is a capsule concept: partly my stamp on the world as a visual artist and illustrator, partly my exploration of vintage fashion, and partly as an educator in my blog called 'The Art of Style'.
The Art of Style blog is a philosophical journey into what it means to be truly stylish. Now, I don't use the word 'style' loosely. To me, style has MANY very specific and sometimes complex meanings, which I will always continue to explore and elaborate on through my writing. In short, style is the way we choose to visually curate our surroundings, the ways in which we portray ourselves and our unique visions, the way we interact with those around us, the way we interact with ourselves, the way we interact with Mother Nature, the way we perceive input from the world, and the details of all of our creative choices. Style is learning from and creating through your pain to become the best version of yourself.
Style is not about the way we look, STYLE IS ABOUT THE WAY WE SEE.
First and foremost, I want my audience to know that style is so much more than fashion. It is not exclusive to what we wear, and not exclusive to what we look like. Granted, fashion and the art of dressing well is something I am deeply passionate about. And you can expect to see that a vast amount of my content will be fashion related. I absolutely love fashion and the creative expressions we can explore through it. However, I believe that style is so much more than the way that we dress. Style is the way we treat ourselves, its a level of respect for ourselves and a level of love and compassion and tenderness that we have to develop for ourselves, because most of us unfortunately were not taught, or did not learn this concept growing up. Instead, what we had was our pain and traumas, our losses, our broken families, our insecurities, our anger, our abandonment. We learn so much about pain, but we do not learn nearly enough about love, particularly, the very delicate and disciplined art of self love. The lesson of true self love, self respect, and the ability to find joy and beauty and creative expression on the other side of our pain, is perhaps the most excruciatingly difficult lesson of the human experience, but also the most valuable and rewarding. And there are many, many tools that we can learn to help us get there. So I want to teach you about the tools that I have spent my entire life developing. Tools that have saved me from myself. Tools that have enabled me to transform myself into someone I finally love.
A little introduction about myself.... many people assume that I grew up wealthy in the Hamptons, or perhaps in New York City. Or that maybe I'm from Connecticut and I went to an ivy league school (this couldn't possibly be further from my reality). One look at me, and many people assume that I'm someone who is entirely unrelatable, someone who is a stuck up, snobbish rich bitch. Maybe blame it on my classic resting bitch face and my rather impeccable wardrobe, but I assure you, I'm a very kind-hearted, warm and goofy woman once you get to know me, and it's not my mission to win a beauty contest or to be best dressed. My mission in this life is to create and explore as much as possible, to make the world a sweeter place and to have a positive and inspiring effect on the people in my life, and on my audience.
I grew up in a rather poor family, in the backwoods of the national forests of Colorado. A gorgeous area, but I'm talking very, VERY backwoods. Dead end dirt roads, old campers and broken down cars with trash strewn about the yard, and an hour and half bus ride to the nearest civilization (a town of a whopping 7,000 people). I grew up dirt biking, shooting rifles, fishing and coming home most days covered in dirt from god knows what I was up to in those spectacular woods. Though I hate the term, 'white trash hippies' is probably the most accurate nomenclature I can think of to describe our family (now, I don't wish to denigrate my family...though broken and white trash, my parents worked very hard and they loved me, and I got to do a lot of cool shit that most kids did not, and for that, I am immensely grateful). However, I wasn't cool. I wasn't pretty. I wasn't well dressed. I wasn't confident AT ALL. I wasn't social. I was the ugly, poorly dressed, awkward, weird, artsy girl that was generally wallowing in anger or massive depression and self destruction. Now, I'm really dating myself here, but I grew up before the age of the internet, nor did we have cable television (thank god for PBS and rabbit ears). And the closest town, Woodland Park, Colorado isn't exactly the mecca of culture, or the mecca of anything for that matter. Except for maybe teen drug use and a disproportionately high and tragic youth mortality rate. There was nothing chic or wealthy or fabulous about any of it. I didn't have any resources to tell me what 'cool' was. I didn't have a big sister with a closet to raid. I didn't have much to work from at all, less the terrible 90's teeny bopper magazines and Alloy catalog (and god how I dreamed of owning clothes that cool). So all the ways that I present myself now, the whole world that I live in, is something I had to build and learn almost entirely on my own. And it all came from very, very little. It came from a broken home, it came from too many tragedies to count, it came from a very lost, wounded and fearful child. It took me years to claw my way out of the trenches of my sorrows. And after an immense amount of torment and willpower in excavating the tools of survival, I have finally grown into someone I love and respect. The primary tools of survival, of developing a keen sense of style and of finding self love are as follows (expect many future posts that explore what these tools mean and how to learn to use them):
and Self Awareness
And now that I've mastered these tools and want to continue to sharpen them in perpetuity, I want to help people pull themselves out of their own heads, out of their misery, and I want to teach my audience about the tools I've used to CREATE my life from the ashes and turn it into something beautiful.
Over the years I've had to work extremely diligently to transform myself into the person that I want to be. Because so much of my life I spent being a person that I was deeply unhappy with, I was not proud of, I was living a life that made me very sad. Though I've always been sweet and kindly intentioned, I grew up an extremely angry, self loathing person, I was very depressed, I wasn't having much fun AT ALL! And now, if you know me, I have ALL the fun all the time, I find all of the beauty everywhere, I wear all of the cool clothes, I have all of the amazing friends, I go out dancing, I do all of these fabulous things...but this lifestyle was never, ever given to me. I had to WORK every single day to get here. We all must work to change ourselves for the better. No one ever taught me how to get here. I didn't have an example of how to be posh, or how to be well dressed, or confident. It's all something that I had to force upon myself. And I want to teach you the techniques I discovered to help get me there because I have learned and grown so immensely that I still cannot believe that I am the fabulous person I have become...A much happier, expressive and creative person, a much friendlier and more stylish person, a fashionable person, hell, even a muse to some. I've become a person that is able to find joy no matter what is happening in the ever evolving trainwreck of my family life, and no matter what hideous things are happening in this crumbling world. I can find delight and something beautiful no matter where I am. And this is something that has saved my life. And I truly believe that teaching these skills can have a positive impact on the people around me. One of my highest goals in life are to help people grow from their pain, discover their creativity and unveil their ability to find confidence and to find love for themselves and others. I want to push people grow out of their misery and become happier, more productive, more successful, and more enjoyable to be around. I want to teach you the tools and techniques for living a life that you love, and in turn becoming a more stylish and creative person through that. Evolution in style is merely a glorious byproduct of understanding true beauty, understanding true beauty happens by continually using your tool box: Discipline, creative expression, self awareness
Another big aspect of style for me as I've mentioned, is finding beauty and joy in the world no matter where you are, no matter what you're doing, no matter what terrible thing is happening in your life, no matter what atrocities are happening around the globe, because life is ALWAYS going to be difficult, my dears. This is one thing of which we can be certain. But you can become STRONGER, and curb the difficulties from eating at you. So much of what shapes us as human beings is being able to find beauty outside of our struggles, to find small joys, and to find delight in the most unassuming places. Again, it is the tool box that allows us to open our eyes to beauty.
Another huge piece of my brand message is that style cannot be bought, it does not have a price tag, and it is not something you can merely pick up off of the shelf and suddenly own, so I'm not trying to sell it to you. But I am trying to TEACH it to you. I want to teach you the many tools and the many ways in which you can become a more stylish person...a more realized, self confident person, a person tasteful in all the things you do. Because not everyone is born with good taste. Some of us are born with none at all, some of us are born with an intrinsic understanding of it, but most of us have to learn the tools and the discipline to keep practicing, so we might slowly attain it. I was not born with good taste AT ALL. However, I was born with the fundamental need to create art and to help and teach others. Everything that you see about me, everything that I wear, my whole persona, my whole essence, was something that I had to create, it was not something I purchased. The clothes and the lifestyle are byproducts of first learning what it is to be stylish. Once you begin to truly understand style, you further evolve good taste. And once you have evolved taste, THAT'S when you should spend the money. ;)
And finally, the other huge piece of The Art of Style puzzle, is me wanting to teach you how to harness your self awareness and your creative expression in an effort to allow you to see the world in a more creative and compassionate way. I want to teach introspection, and the art of being comfortable in your own skin, in your own pain, and in your own human experience. I want to teach an audience what it is KNOW yourself well enough to know what your values are, to know what you want and to know how to change enough to get there. I want to share with you the tools that will allow you to turn your pain into something positive. Because there is a tremendous amount of power within our pain, and there's a lot that we can do with it...a lot of ways that we can self destruct with it, and a lot of ways that we can grow with it. So I want to teach you of course, the latter, which is to become more beautiful through your pain, to become more courageous, more charismatic, more adventurous. I want to help you have better relationships with the people in your life, and help you have a better relationship with yourself through the use of the aforementioned tools. In essence, what I want to teach is how we can not only make space to have a more compassionate relationship with ourselves, but also how to have more compassion for the world around us, how to inspire others, and how to leave others better than when we found them.
I have so much that I want to do in my life, and so much that I want to teach, and it's all interconnected. It is ALL within style.
It is THE ART OF STYLE
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