AY wants to share the stories of women here in Arkansas on Wednesdays in hopes to inspire and lift up others. Come back each week to read a new one.
At 19 years old, many of us were cramming for college tests, applying for entry-level gigs and using our last year of teenage-hood as a justification for little to no post-school plans.
This was not the case for Ashley Childers.
Childers, now the creative director and former CEO of Emporium Home and founder of Ashley Childers Jewelry, started her entrepreneurial pursuit before hitting the two-decades-old mark. For 13 years, Childers owned and operated a dance studio in Conway with the creative gusto and go-getter mentality she continues to cultivate through her current careers.
In 2009, Childers left her love for competitive dance in Conway and moved her young family across the Arkansas River bridge to west Little Rock suburbia. The transition into a new home is what kickstarted Childers’ career in the home-decorating industry.
“At the time I was trying to redecorate the home we moved into and was underwhelmed at the lighting and furniture I found in the marketplace,” Childers says when recalling her move-in adventure. “That experience sparked the idea to launch my home furnishings brand, Emporium Home.”
Eleven years later, Emporium Home is a globally-recognized company that houses a flagship showroom in Shenzhen, China, a robust direct-to-consumer online presence through William D. Scott, Neiman Marcus and Horchow, and more. Although Global Views recently purchased Emporium Home in 2018, Childers remains the face of the brand and creative director.
“I realized pretty early on that I was meant to design,” Childers says when recounting her career path. “Bringing products to life is my passion. It’s my zone and what brings me the most joy.”
Childers’ furthers her gift for designing attainable opulence through Ashley Childers Jewelry, a company she founded less than a year ago.
“I used to hand-make pieces to give as gifts when I was younger, so launching a jewelry line was a natural step for me,” says Childers. “I have a decade worth of experience in manufacturing and bringing products to market, so I wanted to use that knowledge and create a beautiful, unique jewelry collection that honors and celebrates the strength and femininity of women.”
As a mother, wife, daughter and female in the workplace, Childers believes that the multi-faceted aspects of being a woman are driving forces behind her creative and strategic career.
“Juggling roles is what women do. We’re innately able to wear many hats and I think because of that we all develop some pretty incredible skills,” says Childers. “Personally, I know that my roles as a mother and wife influence every business and creative decision I make. Leaning into those relationships have made me a better designer, business owner and leader.”
Although Childers encompasses a go-for-it persona, she is no stranger to the barriers placed before women in numerous business fields.
According to Childers, the industry of furniture and home furnishings is historically male-dominated. Although this scenario could have presented set-backs, Childers took it to her advantage.
“It actually pushed me to work harder and be more creative. I think being a woman helped me bring an entirely different perspective to the table.”
When overcoming the barriers set upon women looking to pursue their dream-life, Childers leaves us with this:
“Stay true to yourself, to what you love and who you are,” Childers says. “We all have really special and unique gifts. When we use those gifts to serve others, we’re living our purpose.”
And that’s the magic, folks.