Hi, I’m Ashley. Thanks for stopping by! Here’s a little bit about me…
Short version: A few years ago, I stopped my life as an urban planner and designer in the US and moved to Italy, where I pursued a masters degree and the beginnings of Career 2.0 in Experience Management and Brand Strategy for symbolic goods (better known as fashion, lifestyle, art, design, luxury, etc), with an emphasis on digital. I love it! That’s why I blog about it, and hope to hear your ideas, as well!
Epic-Long version: Ever since I was a little kid, I have been interested in individual and group identity, creativity and analyzing how things work. I got my first subscription to W Magazine and Vogue in 3rd grade (thanks, Mom!), and was obsessed with art, architecture, media, and “fandom” (for lack of a better word). While trying to juggle a great many interests, somewhere around college I realized that most of them could be encapsulated by the notion of the community and creative management, and so I started my career in urban planning and design (someone should have told me about ad school).
This was a pretty cool job because it combined economics, politics, stakeholder mediation, planning and design into one problem-solver role. I could interact with different people all day long, and as an urban designer and policy-planner, focus on engaging communities and designing unique user-friendly, sustainable environments that convey a story or “sense of place” for people to live, work and play in. However, as fun as this was, it still wasn’t exactly what I was looking for… I wanted to practice a different kind of community management. My goal, of course, was (and still is) to get paid to do what I would do for free after hitting the jackpot.
After 5 years working with some amazing people in community development back in the States, I decided it was time to follow my real passion. I wanted to live in Europe, pursue a masters degree that would be fun and enable me to have a blissful career, and meet as many people as I could fit into my life.
So, I made it happen! I researched schools and scholarships, applied, and then -voila! A couple months later, I resigned from my job, sold or donated most of my stuff, packed as many gadgets, dresses and shoes as possible, and moved to Italy (site-unseen!) to study la dolce vita and pursue a degree in “fashion, design and experience management” from SDA Bocconi. I now work in digital brand strategy within the “symbol-intensive industries,” which means that I still work with communities that unite around an experience or a symbolic identity… online! Luckily the consumer, culture and content are constantly evolving the online community, so the learning never stops.
And if you STILL want to read more… With a background in sustainable community development, I understand very well how communities work, and am fascinated with how they work online. When I moved to Italy, I also wanted to understand how the “experience” brands work, to better conceive of how they represent such a strong branded message that inherently becomes incorporated into the personal identity of the consumer. So, within my first months abroad I dove into an “investigation” in my new hometown, Milan.
I started by riding my bicycle around the shows at fashion week (and blogging/shooting pictures like crazy) just to learn whatever I could (lesson one: show up motivated, and anything is possible). I then went on to start producing content for fashion blogazines and digital lifestyle marketing groups, and earned my business degree symbol-intensive management. I have a special love for integrated marketing in new media. Having spent a great deal of time focusing on the creative and lifestyle industries through academics, work and hobby (and to avoid exhausting my friends through constant fashion-lifestyle-business-technology-strategy rambling), I decided to put that education up on the web, in case any of you out there might be interested.
[UPDATE: After nearly 5 amazing years of living in Italy, I have finally made the move back to the States. Ciao, Milano! I've been told that after another 6 years of living here in NYC, I will be allowed to call myself a New Yorker. I'll keep you posted on that.]
Understanding the story of a brand or a company is a lot like understanding the history of a city. It’s all about the storytelling! There are many stakeholders, differing opinions, and most of all, there are a lot of people who associate their personal identity therein. However, in both, once you understand their DNA, you can use the best and brightest of what’s technically and creatively available today to create an amazing, emotional and efficient environment… and a really cool community!