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July 30, 2011

Shop Talk : The Ashley Studio

The Ashley Studio 11807 County Highway 14, Delhi Owners: Diane Nixon and Robert Ashley Employees: None (selves)


Daily Star

---- — Shop Talk is a weekly column featuring locally owned and operated businesses. This week, we talk to Diane Nixon of The Ashley Studio in Delhi.

How long have you lived in the area?

Since the late 1980s, 23 years by way of New York City and London. We started the business in London in the late 1960s.

Tell me about your business:

We are a custom fabric designer/printer to the architectural and design trade; plus we are now getting back into the apparel and fashion area, where it all started back in London. We also create other home furnishing items such as pillows and lamps.

Describe a typical day in your business:

We begin our day with feeding the cats, 11 in total! After our breakfast, we review what needs doing, which could be printing, follow-up calls and cold calls, all in an efforts to bring in business, which is tough in this business economy.

How did you get started in this line of work?

We started in London, almost on a dare, to come up with something new.

Where do you see this business in five years?

We will either be successful with an expanded repertoire and be very busy or will be in a cabin in the woods or a hammock by the beach on in a tent on the White House lawn.

Describe a memorable moment in your workplace:

Working at the Russian Consulate on site-specific fabrics inspired by the interior d├ęcor of the Beaux Arts public rooms.

What have you learned from your work?

Patience and pleasure in the magical flow of creative work with various types of fabric and leather.

What is the most challenging part of what you do?

The preparation and the idiosyncrasies of the medium. The process that we follow is ancient and takes a great deal of time to develop a system that works in as close to traditional methods as possible.

The most enjoyable?

When you've completed work with which you feel has caught the essence, or is what the client has specified, or something you've done surprises you because you weren't expecting it and it pleases you.

How do you define success for your business?

Consideration for the client and the personal, conscientious service we extend. We deliver when we say we will and the repeat orders and additional business that comes through word of mouth is success in this business.

What are some advantages as well as drawbacks of doing business in this area?

For what we do, we are 'out of the loop' in our ability/location to attract new business opportunities. A representative might be useful, and a serious marketing plan would be even more useful. We don't have a standard line; therefore, we must work with someone who understands the work and the medium. Having an appreciative market is most important.

What sets you apart from your competitors?

We've been at this a long time; we understand our materials as well as what's possible or not. There are others in this field; all bring their own abilities, skills and eye. While there is craft in what we do, we are business people and this is how we earn our living.

What advice would you give to someone trying to enter your field of work?

That is a tough question to answer honestly. The economy continues to shrink and the creative element is one of its victims, in addition the regard _ or lack of _ that is given to the artist, in whatever medium. We would welcome the opportunity to share and 'teach' anyone interested in what we do. In fact, we would like to find an apprentice, a barter situation perhaps. We have a true natural colorist and creative talent in Robert, and in me you have the requisite office and vendor/client handling major domo. In both of us, a business appreciation and sense.

Shop Talk interviews are conducted by Terry Hannum. For information, call The Daily Star at 432-1000, ext. 217, or email news@thedailystar.com.