Here at Kathy Kuo Home, we recently announced a new series of interviews here on The Kuotes blog! We are calling this series Kuotable Women and it’s our way of celebrating brilliant female entrepreneurs, founders, and CEOs–both in the design world and in other lifestyle categories like health and wellness, fashion, food, and parenting.
In these uncertain times, I wanted to spotlight how some of our favorite women in business are making it work as they work from home and give them a portal for sharing their successes, struggles, advice, and questions with like-minded individuals–because, now more than ever, we are all in this together!
For our third installment, we are thrilled to be chatting with Ashleigh Stone, the founder and CEO of POOLSIDE. POOLSIDE is a brand of woven bags and accessories inspired by the beach, the pool, and the joy of vacation (and couldn’t we use a dose of that energy right now?).
Ashleigh Stone at home in the West Village–to learn more about POOLSIDE, visit wearepoolside.com!
Tell us about your professional background–what were some of the key milestones that brought you to where you are professionally?
I have always enjoyed creative business building. I have been working for as long as I can remember. When I graduated from college, I started my career in the finance industry, and since then, have also worked in advertising, branding, PR, and marketing. While I never thought that I would have this nonlinear career path, I find that I learned something important from each experience.
Currently, I am the Founder and CEO of POOLSIDE–a vacation fashion brand that I’ve owned for four years. I also run a consulting business where I provide PR and marketing services for select brands.
Tell us about your home–whom do you share your space with, and where do you live?
I live in the West Village with my husband. In the next month, we will welcome our first child–a baby girl. We live in the first two floors of a townhouse on a hidden block. When we first toured the apartment, my husband really didn’t think we could possibly live in it. It’s a very narrow space with a strange layout. However, it just goes to show you how interior design can transform a space!
During these uncertain times when many professionals are finding themselves working from home, how are you approaching working from home and balancing work with the other aspects of your life?
While I miss my office and my daily routine, I have really enjoyed working from home. I love being able to spend extra time with my husband and have meals together, or talk a little walk together midday. This has been especially nice near the end of my pregnancy, where we are savoring every moment together and excitedly thinking about welcoming our baby very soon.
Since my life revolves around work and family anyway, I haven’t found it difficult to balance during this “new normal.” I have always really loved efficiency and technology. I love that people are now adopting new technologies and connecting remotely via Zoom. I think that it will change the way we do business forever.
Do you have a designated workspace in your home? If so, how is it set up?
Normally, I work from my desk. It’s an antique 19th Century French trestle table. I think that it might have been someone’s dining table, because it’s rather large. I have books, photos and trinkets on my desk, but I try to keep it clean so that I have room to breath and focus.
Behind me, there is a mirrored chest of drawers where I keep all of my supplies–pens, notecards, tape, stamps, return address labels, paperclips, and more!
Ashleigh’s work-from-home space
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What are some of your work from home must-have items or favorite pieces? On the flip-side, what are some of your favorite items that help you enjoy self-care and relaxation?
First of all, the house must be neat and tidy, or I find it impossible to work. My must have work from home items are pretty simple — my desk, my computer, my cell phone, chargers, and some sort of drink (water, tea, etc.). I also love having candles and flowers around. It creates a better ambiance for work.
For self-care and relaxation at home, I love taking hot showers. I moisturize with Necessaire and Mutha. And, I love getting into bed early–even if I’m working from bed, I love being able to indulge in an early night and extra cuddling and rest before the baby arrives.
What advice would you give to other professional women about maximizing the work from home experience?
For me, the most important way to maximize my day and work results has been to create a routine. I get up early, get dressed, and put some light makeup on each day. I’m still interacting with people on Zoom and working hard, so I want to feel like I’m in “work mode.” This routine creates stability and gives me confidence.
Since you’re expecting your first child, how have you pivoted in terms of prep and nursery design now that retail locations are closed and some shipping schedules have changed?
Since we have such a unique, nontraditional space, I started designing the nursery early on with the help of my mother. She’s not an interior designer, but she has an amazing eye and has helped design our entire house.
Our nursery is tiny–but absolutely gorgeous! Even though many stores are shut down due to COVID-19, I’m working with local makers to customize many aspects of the space. It also feels good to support small businesses at this time!
Ashleigh’s living room
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Your brand is all about baskets! Sadly it’s not the easiest time to show off a new purse, but how do you bring your POOLSIDE basket bags into your home? Do you use them for storage and decor?
I love using our largest tote style “La Grande Maman” for storage! I have two of them in my house. One basket holds some of my off-season clothing and is stored in this little alcove nook, overlooking my office. The other is in my daughter’s room and holds all of her toys and dollies.
While we may not be vacationing, there are many uses for basket bags, including a sustainable option for your once weekly grocery store trips!
Aside from navigating the immediate challenges of our current moment in history, what goals do you have in your personal and professional life right now?
My number one goal is giving birth to a healthy baby and taking her home to snuggle for a month of maternity leave.
Other than that, I am hoping to grow POOLSIDE in a way that is strategic and thoughtful. While it’s been very hard to work with retailers who have cancelled orders or extended payment terms, it has also been inspiring to take matters into my own hands.
My small team and I have been focusing more on digital marketing and on strengthening our DTC channel. We are learning a ton from this, and I’m hoping that it will strengthen our business in years to come as the economy rebounds and people start traveling again (no matter how long that takes).
Anything special on the horizon for POOLSIDE we should know about?
We have a lot of ideas, but right now we’re focusing on our SS20 and HS20 collections. We have such special items available! We have always talked about expanding into new categories like beauty and ready-to-wear, and we’re just working on the timing and budget for that.
Who inspires you the most, and why?
This is such a difficult question! Right now, I want to say my husband. He is such a good person. I’ve been spending so much time with him and I really feel inspired by his heart, his work ethic, and his zest for life.