As early as I can recall, I remember being optimistic and always looking at the world with a “glass half full” mentality. Having joie de vivre and a real sense of joy even for mundane things is a quality that I truly admire in others as well. While in today’s day and age, it’s easy to get caught up in the obstacles and challenges in our path and feel downtrodden, there are those who continue to retain a positive, exuberant outlook. One such person is Ashley Clark, creative director and founder of Soignè Luxury Accessories.
While studying law in college, Ashley realized her true calling – to design accessories for women that made them feel uplifted. She wanted to remind women that they are strong and can surpass life’s hurdles. Soignè Luxury Accessories is an effervescent collection that speaks to the woman who wants to have fun, celebrate her accomplishments, and live in the moment. Each collection of earrings, hats, headbands, and hair accessories is a true display of the joy that comes with life’s new beginnings. From the fedora, winter hats, and berets to bejeweled headbands and sophisticated earrings, the brand offers something for every woman at every stage of her life.
To see the full array of handcrafted items, head to https://soigneaccessories.com or on Instagram @soignehats. Jewish Press readers can use special discount code PODCAST10 for 10% off purchases on the website.
Michal Goldfein: How would you describe the aesthetic of Soignè Luxury Accessories?
Ashley Clark: The Soignè brand is the perfect blend of rock n’ roll and preppy chic. My designs incorporate fabulous textiles like leather, spikes, lace, pearls, crystals, cashmere, and gold. You can wear the accessories with a LBD (little black dress) and leather jacket and morph into a mysterious rock star goddess, or pair those same accessories with a floral dress, cashmere coat, and heels and give off a “country club vibe.” Either scenario exudes the “I have great style” essence women crave.
Can you describe the name of your brand and what inspired it?
One night I had a dream and the name Soignè came to me. I speak French and travel to Paris regularly. It is just the perfect word to describe the brand. The name Soignè is a French term that means “dressed very elegantly; well groomed.” It’s pronounced swan-yay. Our luxury accessories are the perfect way to complete an outfit. The name and its definition just fit the brand.
What challenges have you faced in starting your brand?
The top three challenges were drawing, capital, and production. Before starting the brand, I was in grad school for my MBA/JD with little textile experience. I had not reached the level of sewing expertise that I desired to achieve, and that was a big challenge. I spent a year before launching the brand teaching myself every aspect of what it takes to create a fashion line. Figuring out start-up costs and expenses was also a challenge. I built the company by bootstrapping my way through. (Bootstrapping is building a company from the ground up with nothing but personal savings and luck, the cash coming in from the first sales.) It was tough. Lastly, drawing and getting my imagination onto paper and it resembling what I was envisioning was a comical feat. If you could see the first renderings of my designs, you’d giggle. I’ve come a long way!
I absolutely love your Jeweled Not Jaded jewelry collection, which includes the lines called With the In-Laws, At the Office, and Everyday. Can you describe each of the collections and your inspiration behind them?
The Jeweled Not Jaded collection came about after I called off my engagement. I was stuck in a toxic relationship and I found myself jaded. As soon as I made a commitment to get better and heal my soul, the creativity poured out of me. Each category of the Jeweled Not Jaded collection represents aspects of our lives where we can become bitter. I want my customers to realize there’s always a chance to become better. At the office, if you have a horrible boss or colleague, I want you to be able to put on one of the Soignè accessories with their ironic names and remember: “You’re fabulous and the situation doesn’t define you.” Ghastly in-laws? Throw on the Rose Petal Hoops and remember: You’re sweeter than your mother-in-law realizes. The collection reminds us to be jeweled, not jaded. Don’t get bitter – become better.
I love the Climb the Corporate Ladder Drop Earrings and the Daisy Stud Earrings. Which earrings are your favorite?
The evil eye studs are my favorite; I wear them every day. My personal style is rock n’ roll chic meets Victoria Beckham meets Iris Apfel. They are a fun shape, made from 14k gold and Swarovski, colorful and understated. The tradition and theory behind the evil eye states that by wearing it you’ll ward off bad vibes and negative energy being cast your way. I think we could all use that energy to block out the haters.
I particularly love the Gilded Leaf Drop Earrings. What inspired the design of this earring?
In December, I was in Jamaica painting my nails on our balcony and spilled gold nail polish on a leaf that was on the coffee table, next to my pearl earrings that I was wearing that evening. I thought, “Aha! This would be amazing paired together!” I ran over to my iPad and sketched them out. Sometimes the designs come from the simplest of circumstances.
You have an amazing collection of hats, including the Wool Fedora in Valentine. How would you style an outfit around this hat?
The name Valentine came from what the color red represents to me. Red is a power color. It is bold, and represents heat, activity, anger, love, and joy. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is! I’d pair the hat with an oversized turtleneck sweater, denim, and a great bootie. All the cashmere and wool fedoras can be dressed up or down – they are versatile.
Your winter collection of hats are the perfect complement to any statement coat or sweater. Which of the berets and pom-pom hats do you gravitate towards?
Green is my favorite color. Our hunter green pearl beret is my absolute favorite. The black beanie goes with every coat I own, and I wear it all the time. You can never go wrong with black.
The Derby Collection of hats is so exquisite, including my absolute favorite, the Butterfly Collection. What inspired this collection of hats?
I design the same way songwriters write songs about their current mood. Around the world, people view the butterfly as representing endurance, change, hope, and life. I was in a stage in my life that incorporated all of these things. It was the perfect way to describe where I was in life.
Your comprehensive collection of headbands and hair accessories is impressive. The Blair and the Gold-Plated Swarovski Velvet Headband are so pretty. I can see them worn with both casual and dressy looks; how would you recommend women wear them?
You have great taste! They can be worn dressed up or down. Your imagination is your only limitation.
All your items are super giftable. Which items do you recommend for moms and daughters?
I can give you some exclusive information no one knows yet: We are launching a girls’ line. This line is aimed towards girls ages 2-13. It has colorful bows and beanies that coincide with all of our adult headbands and hats. Our new tweed hair clips match our colorful tweed headbands. It would be the perfect mother-daughter gift set.
If you could give advice to other female entrepreneurs out there, what would it be?
Don’t let fear control your life, and trust your gut. In a society that can be extremely judgmental, stay true to who you are and what your goals are. The universe will catch you, and all you must do is jump. Sometimes that first leap is the hardest, but it is the most rewarding.
What are your goals for the future of your brand?
We are opening a flagship store and launching a children’s line and Soignè Home. The sky is the limit. I want to be a household name.