Feature Friday - Caroline & Ashton of Elizabeth + Afton
1. Tell us about yourself!
We are the sister team behind Elizabeth + Afton. My name is Caroline Monson and my sister is Ashton Smart. We are originally from a small town in North Carolina. Ashton studied Textile Design before serving a mission in Paris, France and transferring to BYU. She is graduating in the spring from BYU with a Bachelors of Graphic Design and lives in Provo with her husband. I graduated from NC State University with a B.S. in Fashion and Textile Management. After graduation, I interned for a clothing design company, then was the assistant designer for a handbag company in Portland, OR. I currently live in Chapel Hill, NC with my husband and adorable 9 month old son, Ellis.
2. Here at Munchin With Moguls, we consider everyone a mogul! Why do you think you are a mogul or influential person?
We both set lofty goals for ourselves and are extremely determined and disciplined. We decided that we could plan all we wanted but that eventually we just had to jump in feet first and start our business. We both made education a priority and that has empowered us to be the business women we are today. We are also very creative and wanted to do something more with our talent. The combination of drive and creativity is what enables us to be the women that we are and gives us the opportunity to become the women we want to be!
3. How do you define success?
Setting goals, working towards them and achieving them, whether it's running a marathon, serving the community, becoming a better wife or mother, or running a successful company! When we are proud of the things we make and what we are creating, we are successful.
4.What is your favorite munch?
Ashton is all about popcorn...and makes really great homemade popcorn, by the way. Caroline is a true lover of ice-cream. The more the better!
5. Who are some of your favorite influencers / influential people to follow and why? Where that is blogs, authors, podacsts, etc.
We both listen to "How I Built This" religiously and we listen to Munchin with Moguls (obviously). One of our absolute favorite influencers is Rachel Zoe. If you don't know who she is, you are missing out. She's a designer, CEO, wife and mother..and has one of the most enviable closets imaginable! She was Caroline’s main inspiration to pursue a career in the fashion industry. One of Ashton’s artistic idols is Graphic Designer, Paula Scher. From album covers to typographical genius, she is nothing short of inspirational.
6. Tell us about your business and what inspired you to start it!
I was at a transition point in my life. I quit my job in Portland and moved to NC to support my husband who was getting his MBA. Not to mention I was pregnant with our first child. I wanted to work and had planned on working, but the triangle area in NC isn't exactly a fashion hotspot, so finding a job was tough. Ashton, while still getting her degree was always looking for a new and exciting outlet of creativity. Ashton and I have always flirted with the idea of starting a business together and it has always been a dream of ours to collaborate in such a big way. One day last year she sent me a sketch of a bag she had done on Illustrator where she had imposed one of her prints as the fabric of the bag. Something sparked and from that point we began mapping out our vision. Together we do lots of trend research and choose a color palette and direction for each collection. Ashton creates the prints, paints the fabric, and ships it from her studio to mine for the fabric to be produced into bags. We just launched this past September and currently have two sizes of handbags. The idea is that the zipper bag carries all of your little necessities and can be tossed in your purse, a suitcase, baby bag, and then taken on it's own as a clutch to dinner or a party. We are busy women and we know we aren't alone. So, we are providing a very fashionable solution to a messy problem! We are planning on adding more products in our future including leather goods and home decor products.
7. If you could give one word of advice to someone who is trying to reach their goals, what would it be?
Start working today for what you want to have in the next 5-10 years. We never planned to start our brand this early in our lives, but we have already learned so many valuable lessons and met some incredible people who are also out hustling. It's really easy to make plans and endless wish lists of how you would like your life to be, but taking control and pushing yourself is how you live your best life.