Designer Spotlight: Get to Know Ashley Shelly

I met Ashley through various online circles and have come to adore her and her work! I hope that you enjoy getting to know her and a huge new and exciting change in her life! Also, make sure you check out her website with the amazing Budget Notebooks! 

Photo by Sarahdipity Photos

Photo by Sarahdipity Photos


1. What is your ideal creative environment?

I would have to say my home office! I am secretly (or not so secretly, haha) an introvert, so being in a place that’s nice and quiet, with lots of natural light, a candle lit, and whatever music or podcast I choose to play while I work, is the absolute best to me. 

2. What is your favorite stage of your design/creative process?

I develop products that help people organize their finances in style and live more peacefully. So the best part is coming up with each season’s cover styles for the Budget Notebook. I LOVE looking through wedding magazines and color theory websites to get inspiration for the season’s trendy colors. It is so much fun!

3. Least favorite stage?

My least favorite stage would probably be waiting to receive the proofs back in the mail from the printer. I am always so excited to see them, but also a bit of a control freak when it comes to my products. I always want the best for my customers, so that anticipation of not knowing how they will turn out until they are in my hands is not my fave! It’s like sending your baby off to school on a big test day and hoping they get an A.

4. Tell us about your worklife

My work life is about to get a major makeover. I’m going from having a corporate day job to working full time from my home office for the Ashley Shelly brand and also as a freelance designer. So, my new work life is going to be super interesting. I’m sure it will take a little while to get fully settled in to the new schedule, but I am excited for it. I am hoping to plan out everything each week so I know what I need to accomplish each day, and give myself time to focus on each part of the day. I do my best work when I plan ahead and don’t feel rushed, so I definitely see lots of to-do lists and planner checking in my future.

5.  How do you like handling the business/housekeeping side of your creative business?

There are certain parts I enjoy and other parts I definitely do not excel at. I like to focus as much as possible on my strengths and delivering amazing products and designs to my customers, so I often reach out to other professionals for help. I outsource things like design for my website and accounting. I am passionate about personal budgeting and handle all of that myself, but when it comes to running a business, I am totally fine with leaving that to a CPA!

6.  Tell us about your family

I currently share my life with my awesome boyfriend, James, and we are both really excited about the future! He is always there for me when I need an ear to listen about this crazy small business thing I am doing, and he challenges my thinking in the ways that I need it most. God definitely knew what he was doing when he set this thing up! I live about 5.5 hours away from my parents and grandparents who are in my hometown of Pensacola, Florida and I get to visit them every few months. They are my biggest cheerleaders in life and I love them so much. I got my creative side from my Dad and Grandpa, my book-smart side from my sweet Mom, and my love for organizing a beautiful home from my Grandma.

7.  What is your "new thing" (can probably be gleaned from what you are pinning lately)

What a fun question! If I referred to my Pinterest boards for this, it would be looking for fun, healthy snacks that are easy to make yet filling. I’m not a coffee person, so I run on snacks and eating on a regular schedule. When I am feeling a little sleepy, a great protein snack with a little sweetness is perfect! I recently discovered protein bites recipes and can’t wait to try some. Most of them include oats, dried fruit, chocolate chips, and something like peanut butter. Sign me up!

8.  What's on your playlist right now

I am a podcast listening fool right now! At first I thought they would be boring, but after listening to just one about another small creative business, I was hooked forever. I find them so relaxing to listen to while I work. It’s nice to fill my brain with positive information instead of bad news or busy music. However, I’m a huge Mat Kearney fan and love to listen to that type of music while I work too!

9.  Adobe Creative Suite, favorite product?

So hard to pick! I use Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign for different projects. But if I had to pick my absolute favorite just for how fun it is to use, I would say Photoshop because I love editing photos. If I had to pick my favorite for business use currently, it would be Illustrator. It’s what I use to create my Budget Notebook designs.

10. What is inspiring you lately

Podcasts featuring other creative entrepreneurs for sure! Also, reading blogs that feature other designers, listening to webinars that teach me something new, and just being quiet and still each day. Some of my best ideas come to me when I give myself the space to do nothing at all and relax. Naps rock!

11.  When you aren't designing and doing your creative field what can you most likely be found doing?

You can bet I’ll be found planning how to decorate my new home office in the coming weeks and months! I love to design anything, which includes spaces. My environment is so important to me and how I feel during the day, so making it beautiful is important to me. James and I also love to go fishing. It’s so nice to be outside, day or night, waiting on that little (or big!) nibble on the end of that line. It’s such a fun hobby.

12.  How do you define your design style? Has it evolved over time? Lastly, what would you say to someone struggling to find their design style/voice?

Oh, it has definitely evolved over time! But, in a way, it’s similar to when I first started in college. My style is very feminine and fun, yet clean and crisp. I love classic patterns like stripes and polka dots. I used to try and combine too many elements together in my early days, and it would look cluttered or a little busy. Now, it’s much easier for me to create something I love because I’ve been doing it for over 10 years. If you are struggling to find your design style or voice in the design world, take a look at what you are naturally attracted to in other areas of your life like interior spaces. You can pick up your sense of style very easily by paying attention to what you gravitate towards with fabrics, beauty products, fashion, etc. There are usually great keys there. 

13.  Tell us about what's new with Ashley Shelly and the new leap you most recently made. 

YAY! I recently made the leap from my business being a side hustle to it being my full time, work from home career! I am so excited for this change in my life and it has been a goal of mine for a long time. I have wanted to make this happen so I can have more freedom to develop my own brand, yet still work freelance for other companies, but from the comfort of my home office. I love being in my own environment and I am WAY more creative that way, so I can’t wait to see where things go from here! It was a scary decision to pursue, but only because I like to take calculated risks and I have bills to pay. So, if you’re wanting to do the same thing one day, sit down and write everything out. Make a plan. Look at where your money is coming from and how much you need to make to support yourself comfortably. You might even be able to keep your day job relationship and turn it into a freelance relationship instead. There are a million ways to do things, but you have to think about what works best for you and take the least stressful route. That was important to me, to not be stressed over it. It is totally possible and a real thing to take a side business and make it your full time gig!

Connect with Ashley on Social Media