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[Interview] A day in the life of… Ashlee Jane, The Suffolk Nest

In Suffolk, The Suffolk Nest stands as a beacon of creativity, blending the worlds of art, entrepreneurship, and family life, all steered by the visionary Ashlee… View Article


[Interview] A day in the life of… Ashlee Jane, The Suffolk Nest

In Suffolk, The Suffolk Nest stands as a beacon of creativity, blending the worlds of art, entrepreneurship, and family life, all steered by the visionary Ashlee Jane.

Her transition from the structured world of fashion at Asos and corporate roles at Cadbury’s to founding a d2c floral enterprise encapsulates a journey of passion and discovery. Ashlee’s academic background in fashion management equipped her with vital skills, yet it was her foray into floristry that truly resonated with her creative essence.

Ashlee’s initiation into the floral world, sparked by a wreath-making course with friends, transformed her career trajectory, imbuing her life with the creativity she sought. “I always loved fashion, but discovering floristry was like finding a hidden part of myself. It’s all the creativity I’ve been craving,” she reflects on this pivotal transition.

Launching The Suffolk Nest required Ashlee to don multiple hats simultaneously—artist, entrepreneur, and mother. Her venture’s early days were a testament to her resilience and adaptability, particularly when her wreath-making kits stirred an unexpected torrent of interest, with orders soaring to 500 in mere minutes. This watershed moment not only showcased the market’s receptivity to her vision but also marked the onset of rapid business evolution.

Navigating the surge of success, Ashlee encountered the steep learning curves associated with expanding an online business. She openly shares the challenges and on-the-spot learning that came with managing an e-commerce platform, grappling with shipping logistics, and understanding international taxation. Ashlee recalls one particularly illustrative episode: “We had a container arrive from Holland directly to my backyard because we didn’t have a warehouse at the time. It was a moment that really underscored the blend of excitement and chaos in scaling up.”

Ashlee’s journey is punctuated with such learning milestones, each underscoring the iterative nature of entrepreneurial growth, but also with a keen eye on keeping a balance. “Staying inspired and keeping everything balanced is crucial for me. Getting outdoors and into nature is my way of reconnecting and refuelling my creative energy. It’s about finding that equilibrium between driving the business forward and nurturing my own well-being to sustain that momentum,” Ashlee adds.

Under Ashlee’s guidance and with the support of her husband Chris, The Suffolk Nest has transformed these challenges into opportunities for innovation and engagement. Her proactive stance on the issue of design imitation on social media channels, for example, has driven the brand to constantly innovate and maintain a genuine dialogue with its audience. Ashlee emphasizes the dual significance of community and innovation in her business philosophy: “Facing imitation spurred us to be more creative and connected. It reminded us that our bond with the community and our commitment to originality are what truly set us apart.”

Today, Ashlee Jane’s The Suffolk Nest is more than a business—it is a narrative of personal growth, artistic expression, and entrepreneurial tenacity. As she continues to weave her journey of learning and adaptation, Ashlee remains dedicated to nurturing her brand’s core values of creativity, authenticity, and community engagement, charting a path that is as innovative as it is inspiring in the dynamic landscape of modern entrepreneurship.

Ashlee, could you start by telling us about your background and how your journey led to The Suffolk Nest?

I studied fashion management at university, which I absolutely loved. I’ve always been passionate about fashion, putting together my own style, no matter the trend. That creativity was influenced by my mum, who was quite the trendsetter. Eventually, I found my way to ASOS, a great online fashion retailer, where I worked as a merchandiser. However, I missed the creative aspects when dealing with numbers predominantly. So, I returned to Suffolk, worked with Cadbury’s for a while, and stumbled upon my love for floristry almost by accident during a wreath-making course with friends. It just clicked for me.

How did that interest in floristry evolve into establishing The Suffolk Nest?

It started as a personal project, really. After that wreath-making course, I was inspired. I began creating more floral arrangements, first for myself and then for friends and family. The response was incredibly positive, and before I knew it, I was taking orders, including one for a wedding. That’s when I realised this could be more than just a hobby. So, I taught myself everything I could about floristry, mostly through online resources, and eventually, The Suffolk Nest was born from this growing passion.

What were some of the major challenges you faced in growing your business?

Well, there were quite a few. Managing rapid growth was a big one. For instance, when I launched our wreath-making kits, I expected a moderate interest, maybe 50 orders. But we got over 500 in just minutes. Then, dealing with logistics, like receiving a huge container directly from Holland without having a proper warehouse, was quite a learning curve. Not to mention mastering the e-commerce side of things and handling international shipping and taxes.

You’ve mentioned the issue of copying within the industry. How do you handle that?

It’s challenging, for sure, especially in creative industries where your work is so visual and accessible. But I see it as a testament to our brand’s appeal and influence. It’s frustrating, yet it pushes us to be more innovative and ensures we’re always a few steps ahead. We strive to maintain a unique edge, constantly introducing fresh ideas and staying connected with our community.

How do you find balance and stay inspired amidst all these business demands?

For me, it’s about getting outdoors, staying connected with nature. It’s grounding and immensely inspiring. Whether it’s a walk in the countryside or just time spent in my garden, it helps maintain that vital balance between my personal well-being and professional drive. It’s crucial for sustaining the creativity and passion that fuels The Suffolk Nest.

Lastly, what’s next for The Suffolk Nest?

We’re constantly evolving. Expanding our product range, reaching international markets, and deepening our brand’s narrative. And importantly, continuing to engage and grow with our community. It’s about more than just selling products; it’s about inspiring creativity, sharing knowledge through our tutorials, and fostering a genuine connection with our audience. The journey is ongoing, and I’m excited to see where it leads.

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