Today we’re talking with Ashley of Dinosaur Stew for our inaugural post in the TGS Bad Ass Ladies series! Ashley has a special place in the TGS family as she did all of the web designing for us. We’re talking page formats, fonts, transitions, grid set up, you name it, Ashley did it. I found Ashley through her Etsy page when I was originally looking for a pre-made template to plug into the TGS framework. I quickly realized that a pre-made template wasn’t going to give me what I was visualizing for the site and reached out to Ashley to see if she did any custom work. From there, the rest is history (and by history I mean hundreds of back and forth emails of Ashley being amazing and patiently dealing with all of my questions.)
I am so thrilled Ashley has agreed to answer a few questions for us both about how she got her start in web design, and what some of her favorite things outside of work are.
Tell us a little about who you are and what you do!
A: I’m Ashley, a 20-something business owner and entrepreneur! I own Dinosaur Stew, which is my own small business. We offer graphic design, web development, and other services to help small businesses and bloggers rock their web presence.
When did you get started with Dinosaur Stew?
A: I started Dinosaur Stew in late 2012. I was a student in the middle of a Master’s degree program and working at a coffee shop. Needless to say, money was a little scarce. One day it hit me: I could do web design and make a little money on the side. Dinosaur Stew grew quickly and I was able to quit my job at the coffee shop to pursue my business full time. Since then, I’ve finished my Master’s program and am still lucky enough to do what I love: own my own business full-time.
Did you go to school with your current job in mind or did you fall into it later on?
A: I self-taught myself HTML, CSS, and Photoshop when I was 13, so my web design “skills” were always just there, existing in the background. I never even thought of doing it for a living — it was just a nerdy hobby I had. While my Master’s degree coursework didn’t 100% directly parallel what I’m doing now, I’ve been able to apply so much of the general knowledge I learned as a student to grow my business.
What inspires you in your line of work?
A: I draw my inspiration from life in general and what I see out in the world. I’ll get inspired by the things around me, like a display at Anthropologie might inspire the color palette for my next project, or a vintage building sign might influence my next logo design. I actually stay off of typical inspiration websites like Pinterest so that I can fully embrace originality.
How does it feel to be your own boss?
A: Being my own boss is absolutely amazing and is something I try not to take for granted. I wake up when I want and can work from anywhere (or at least anywhere there is wifi!). At this point, I would find it very difficult to NOT be my own boss, which also inspires me to keep working and make my business the best it can be.
What advice would you give someone who is trying to get started in your line of work?
A: For anyone who wants to start a small business, I would say go for it but be prepared! You WILL end up working 60+ hour weeks. You will doubt yourself. You will have days when nothing goes right. You will have days when you consider going back to that 9-5 grind. And that’s totally okay. Owning your own business is a never-ending cycle of successes and failures. Take risks. Don’t take anything for granted. Push yourself. Also, know your weaknesses and don’t be afraid to enlist help to make sure all your bases are covered. For example, I’m horrible at social media/self promotion so one of my goals this year is to hire an assistant who can work on this for me.
Favorite TV show?
A: I rarely watch TV #ChooseBooks!
A: The Great Gatsby
5 minute dance party song?
A: Missy Elliot circa the early 2000s.
Most inspiring lady in your life?
A: My mom (awwwwwww).
Thing you would say to your younger self if you had the chance?
A: Live in the moment and enjoy what you have now. For most of my life, I’ve always been looking ahead toward the next milestone or achievement. When I was in high school, I couldn’t wait to be in college. When I was in college, I raced to the finish to join the working world. Being goal-oriented is great, but sometimes that gets in the way of just enjoying the moment.
One thing you think every woman should know how to do?
A: I think everyone needs to learn how to be totally comfortable in their own skin and be happy with their inner self. When you’re all alone, no distractions, are you happy with yourself? If you’re not, work toward getting there. It’s a long journey and can be an everyday struggle, but I think it’s the key to true happiness. I firmly believe in “you do you,” even if “you” is a weird freak.
Find Ashley at dinosaurstew.com