{meet} ashley porter of porter lyons

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Today is a very special day: It's my 28th birthday!! I cannot believe how old I am and how many special things have come my way (read more here) I have decided that even though birthdays are usually a ME ME ME day, that will not be the case here. Today I have the pleasure of giving the spotlight to a very talented gal: Ashley Porter. 

She is the owner and designer of the unique jewelry brand called Porter Lyons. I met Ashley during our cross country road trip (read more here and here) in New Orleans and fell in love with her remarkable way of designing jewelry. Not only does she have a great personality but her brand has a very special preservation mission. The mission of documenting culture through design... 

"Our world gets smaller and more uniform every day. Changes in technology, globalization, and westernization are forcing many original cultures to dissolve. Cultural uniqueness becomes lost in an environment of conformity. Preserving the originality of a place and its people allows us to embrace the diverse riches of our world. In every collection, Porter Lyons explores a single culture and highlights the wonders that set it apart." Porter Lyons

Tell us a little bit about Porter Lyons and the amazing mission behind the brand. Porter Lyons believes in preserving culture through design. A portion of all proceeds goes to causes that protect a culture's fundamental identity. The first collection is inspired by New Orleans and the bayou with a portion of the proceeds benefiting wetland preservation, specifically the Coalition to Restore Louisiana's Coast.

How did you ever start as a jewelry designer and how did your personal journey bring you to this very moment? I followed my heart. After obtaining my Masters in Finance and going to work for Merrill Lynch I realized after just 6 months that I didn't like what I was doing. I yearned for a more creative field that allowed me to shape my future and inspire those around me. I simultaneously started to take night classes at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in LA and after a year I left behind my career in finance for one in fashion. It's been a very beautiful and exciting journey indeed! 

What inspires your pieces and how do you manage your workflow? The vibrant New Orleans culture and people inspire me; it reminds me that we are all interconnected. My designs range anywhere from alligator backbone earrings to an Imperial Faberge egg closure, one of which resides in a private collection in New Orleans. I find that being extremely organized helps me get everything I need done. As the solo owner it is important to be extremely diligent at organizing your time with the most critical aspects that will launch your idea into fruition the quickest.

I know that ideas and inspiration come in the oddest moments. Do you carry a notepad, camera, or any gadget of choice in case this happens? I like to be as minimalistic and on the go as possible. I use my cell phone for everything and would be tremendously less productive without it!

Is there anything in particular that you cannot live without? Kindness. Nature. Coconuts. 

Tell us a little bit more about your work process. How do you go from dreaming about a piece to a finished product? This is the best and easiest part of the whole job. I sketch for hours upon hours and research different subjects down to their bones to generate ideas. In the end I'm left with my illustrated dreams that one by one I make into reality. I have a casting house in New York, plater in New Mexico and assemble and polish here in New Orleans. 

Do you have a favorite piece and/or collection that speaks dearly to your heart? The backbone collection, specifically the backbone cuff. It was my first piece of jewelry I ever made and the inspiration behind it was a light bulb moment. 

What is the most fulfilling part of your job? Everyday when I wake up, I feel alive to be doing what I'm doing. 

Many of us dream of launching our own business. Do you have any suggestions for someone trying to start a company of their own? What were the major challenges of being a young entrepreneur? An idea is just an idea. I would say to anyone who wants to start their own business to write a detailed business plan. That's step one and it will give you a great road map for your journey. You must then decide to do it. That is the single hardest step.

Any fancy projects you are working on? I'm currently working on a versatile, origami like handbag. I'm launching them with Louisiana Alligator skin this Spring for  Fall/Winter 2014. I couldn't be more excited to expand into this market and create beautiful pieces that have social thought behind them.

Amazing stuff guys! What are your favorite pieces? Hard to choose, am I right? If you love Ashley and Porter Lyons as much as I do, don't forget to keep up with all the exciting updates though her website, Facebook and Instagram. I am sure that you too will not resist her inspiring and unique design vision.  

Off I go to celebrate the day. I am thankful to be alive and fortunate to be able to spend today with the person I love dearly.   


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