Dawn Mellon’s Local Fashion Talent Report Part Three: Ashley Burghardt

A purse from Ashley’s collection.

Fall fashions are hitting the racks of local stores. The spring shows at New York Fashion Week are hitting the internet. We’re in a fashion state of mind. Today Dawn Mellon brings us a profile of local designer Ashley Burghardt. This is the last in a three-part series about local fashion talent. To catch up on the previous profiles, they are here and here.

By Dawn Mellon.

When one of D Magazine’s 2010 “Ten Most Beautiful Women” and first-time mother to 4-month-old Matheson isn’t designing, sewing or selling her amazing handbags and apparel, Ashley Burghardt is doing exactly what you’d expect – watching National Geographic or the Science channel. That’s right. The self-proclaimed “nerd,” doesn’t spend her free time pouring over fashion magazines nor can she instantly locate E! or the Style channel on her remote control. “I must have been an archeologist or astronaut in another life,” she muses as she ponders her next job move.

Truth be told, I could never imagine the ultra-feminine designer, whose career was cast into the limelight last year when she competed on 24 Hour Catwalk, digging around in the dirt like a female version of Indiana Jones–unless, of course, it was playtime with Matheson. And, I don’t think I’m alone. In fact, at only 26, the Texas native is quite accomplished. When challenged to create a clothing collection in a day on the Lifetime series, Ashley triumphed over her three competitors. She also was named one of Texas’ Next Top Designer in 2011, and subsequently, was selected to serve as a coach on MTV’s Made.

For anyone who isn’t familiar with Ashley’s handbag collection, ASHARD RICHLEY, you’re in for a treat.  Her moto–Fashion. Form. Function.–is the perfect description of her line. Not only is every bag fashionable, they are set apart by their unique focus on functionality with built-in wallets, iPad pockets and key leashes. Maybe hours of watching the Science channel has paid off. Or, maybe it’s the experience she garnered as an intern with the high-end handbag and shoe line, Be&D, coupled with her position as an assistant designer for Coach’s Reed Krakoff Collection after graduating from TTU and FUA.

But, Ashley isn’t one to rest on her laurels. This spring, she launched her first apparel collection, which, she says, she wanted to be “as fresh and eye catching as her handbags.” Her strategy worked as the fresh, flirty fibers have been picked up by LaMarque in Dallas, Julep in Plano, and Flirt in Dallas and Ft. Worth.  She’s also planning an event with Krimson & Klover in Dallas on October 23.

When asked what prompted her expansion into the competitive apparel market, Ashley says she enjoys the “hands- on” design process – draping fabric and making patterns, for example – that’s necessary when creating a garment, as opposed to the design process of creating a handbag, which is largely done behind a computer.

With a successful handbag line and a successful clothing collection, Ashley then immersed herself into a project for which she had no formal training, no internship, no cameras, no audience, no buyers, no customers, and, yet, she and her husband, Richard, consider this endeavor more successful than anything she’s accomplished to date. Enter Matheson Robert Burghardt. He made his debut this spring, and while he does follow her “Fashion. Form. Function.” design aesthetic, Matheson is certainly the one calling all the shots these days, including waking up his mother promptly at 4 o’clock every morning. But, the fashionista readily attests that being a mother is amazing.

In addition to disrupting her nights, Matheson also has changed Ashley’s work days.  “I put him up in the moby wrap while I drape fabric or do inventory,” she explains.  “He sits in his bumbo seat, and we talk, while I work on the computer.”  Phone conversations, she’s learned, are more effective while they are on a walk outside in the jogging stroller to ensure there aren’t any random screams or baby noises in the background.

And, as the saying goes, “Behind every good woman is a good man,” (or something to that affect). In Ashley’s case, her husband of four years, has gladly stepped aside to let his wife shine in the spotlight.  Now, she says, she must boast about him. After his sister-in-laws’ wedding, Richard was inspired to create a dating app, Charade Date, which will be available in Apple stores next month.

Interestingly, Ashley admits, “My dreams for my life used to motivate me.” But, now that she and Richard have graduated from a couple to a family, she concedes, “All I really want is for our son to be proud of us, as parents, and to be proud of our accomplishments.”

“I want him to look up to us, ” Ashley concludes.  “I want to inspire him.”

To learn more about Ashley Burghardt and her handbags and apparel, go to her website at www.ashardrichley.com.
Dawn Mellon is a Dallas-based fashion stylist and mother of two teenagers, Andrew and Erica, known for effortlessly dressing some of our fair city’s loveliest ladies for all manner of tony appearances. Over the next few months, the fashion maestro will be joining us here on D Moms daily to share her expertise on how to build a killer wardrobe and don it with confidence.


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