After a chance meeting in college, Ashley McCormick’s career has been on a steady climb ever since: She has unwaveringly grown her jewelry brand, ASHA by Ashley McCormick, since its launch in 2005, and she now sells her pieces at Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue, online at Moda Operandi and Orchard Mile, and in more than 80 boutiques. At 34, she has a new light-filled showroom on Greenwich Avenue where she designs and sells fashion, fine and bespoke jewelry. So how’d she do it? With a little luck, a healthy dose of hard work, some gutsy decisions, and a go-big-or-go-home attitude.
While studying at La Sorbonne in Paris during college, Ashley McCormick was seated next to the head of Chanel fine jewelry by chance at a dinner. When he offered to introduce her to a goldsmith who could execute her jewelry designs, she seized the opportunity. “I look back and marvel at how naïve I was,” she says, “[It] was kind of a huge asset because I didn’t realize what I was getting myself into…I figured out things as I went along,” she says. “Other people might argue it’s critical to build a base at another business and learn, and then spin off and do your own thing. My way has been to navigate on the bow.”
That gutsy, no-holds-barred decision-making has clearly been one of the keys to McCormick’s success: In the early days of her business when she returned from Paris, Betteridge offered to help her find production for her collection, and she set out by cold-calling buyers for large retailers. “I somehow was able to get appointments with Saks Fifth Avenue, Henri Bendel and Calypso,” she says, “and I opened those accounts among others. I made it my mission to connect with the buyer. I think I called every 30 minutes,” she says, laughing.
After a decade designing, McCormick, a Greenwich native and Greenwich Academy alum, has stayed true to her brand vision. “Wanderlust and travel are a big inspiration for me,” she says, referencing collections inspired by Cuba, Zanzibar and Paris. “There’s also a hint of exoticism. My aesthetic is classic modern— so, casting a modern veneer over classic inspiration and roots, but with a fresh, bold take.” Like, for instance, her bespoke oversized signet ring, which is an updated version of a royal cypher, or her zodiac collection, which includes customized mother of pearl zodiac sign bracelets and pendants paired with colored leather cord.
The ASHA showroom—which is both a creative atelier workspace and a retail space (located at 409 Greenwich Avenue above East End Restaurant)—is an extension of McCormick’s breezy-but-sophisticated vibe. You can work directly with the designer on a one-of-a-kind piece or browse the penthouse jewel box while you enjoy a glass of champagne. Next up, McCormick has, as usual, a lot on her plate: She plans to grow her fine jewelry business, which includes a variety of 18K gold and diamond designs. She’s also launching Little ASHA for girls ages 5 to 12, inspired by her 5-year-old daughter, Annabel. The collection features sweet enamel charm necklaces and adorable mini stud earrings.
Photos by Kelly Stuart