First thing’s first: “The fashion industry can be brutal.” This is how Ashlee Nik, Chief Executive Officer of fashion brand ashlyn’d, begins her advice to any aspiring fashion entrepreneur. She continues: “Do not let anyone bring you down. If you have an idea that you think is a strong one, go for it, and do not give up. Work harder than you think you need to and more than you ever have before and it will pay off.” In a sea of sameness, of copycats and tired themes, this advice is critical. As brutal as the fashion industry can be, it certainly demands people who go for it despite the critics and naysayers. And that’s exactly what Nik and her team did.

Ashlyn’d was founded by Ashlee Nik, Denise Lewinstein, and Victoria Kochamba. (The playful brand name is a fusion of the names of the founders: Ashl is for Ashlee, lyn is Victoria’s middle name, and the D is for Denise.) All hailing from fashion backgrounds, the ladies felt that the industry was missing unique and affordable clutches and evening bags. Nik explains, “The inspiration behind the brand has truly been the idea of creating clutches that are entirely unexpected. Using acrylics that look like marbles, shells, and woods with custom exotic finishes have allowed us to achieve this look.” Other styles of clutches are inspired by the designs of snow globes—filled with various items for an awesome effect.

“I think that the difference between an ashlyn’d clutch and another brand is that ashlyn’d bags are all truly conversation pieces. From the movement of the bags that are filled with sand and pearls to the quirkiness of styles made of real chalkboard that you can write on, ashlyn’d clutches distinguish themselves by being truly unexpected but still wearable,” says Nik.

Affordability in order to be attainable to the average customer was another goal. And most importantly, delivering quality was a crucial part of the brand’s DNA. Nik states, “I always had a fond appreciation for quality goods that were handcrafted as opposed to having a machine-made assembly line produce the bags. In an attempt to help bring manufacturing back to the United States and maintain quality control, the ashlyn’d team chose to work with Los Angeles-based artists to construct our clutches.”

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