Ashley O'Neill Monaghan
By day, I work with the coolest small business owners on how to develop + showcase their business to the world, physically / digitally. This includes anything from solid branding to social strategy to planning + executing + treasure hunting for their launch event or presentation. By night, I'm the ultimate dinner party host. Typical slash career. I like all of the things!
WHAT STEPS DID YOU TAKE TO GET WHERE YOU ARE NOW?
My path has not been straight in the least, and every step has been self-taught. It's basically me saying, "YAS!" and then googling and figuring it out behind the scenes.
Long story: In the midst of my theatre career I realized I'd probably never be on Broadway and took my love for costume design to the real world by volunteering with a local fashion event production company at 15 (I lied about my age...). Two years later they found out how old I really was, and instead of kicking me out, asked me to become their backstage coordinator. (Thanks, Andi!)
I worked my way to operations director of that company. Meanwhile, I taught myself Adobe Suite, met a photographer (Hi, Mal!), and started executing photoshoots for fun. That quickly led to paid art direction and styling gigs, which was awesome.
Now I'm focusing on branding, styling and event projects. I'm trying to do more experiential design, start something real (I want to be an entrepreneur...my personality type demands it), but a part of my soul wants to throw it all to the wind and dedicate my life to being an art dealer / treasure hunter. Phew.
Short story: I'm still figuring it all out.
For other people in your field, what do they usually lack?
A lot of people I know are afraid of risk or rejection, so they don't go for it—whatever "it" is. I've always been pretty fearless and outgoing when it comes to reaching out to potential mentors, collaborators, clients, and partners. The worst thing people can say is no, and then you move on!
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW?
I'm working on three branding projects (one of which includes the interior of a restaurant, so I'm freaking out), trying to find the right manager for my band while producing our first album, and developing a backyard dinner series that cultivates unexpected experiences surrounding food, conversation and continuing education.
WHAT'S YOUR STYLE/PERSPECTIVE/TASTE? DO YOU HAVE A PROJECT THAT REPRESENTS THIS?
I'm all over the place because I'm attracted to so many things—like most creatives. I strongly believe one must differentiate themselves from others, so I try not to let myself be predictable. I'm finding my style is becoming more elevated and high-end, probably because of my recent obsession with Andi Potamkin and luxury hospitality design. I styled and photographed this vignette as part of a series that will be framed and hung in a new hotel's lounge in Baton Rouge.
I'm also recently taking a ton of inspiration from one of my favorite designers, Maddy Nye—her use of color is brilliant.
WE ARE ALL SLASHIES WITH MULTIPLE SKILLS, WHICH ONE DO YOU WISH YOU COULD DO MORE OFTEN?
Event design and partnership development!
WHAT IS FRUSTRATING YOU RIGHT NOW?
The process? I have a ton of ideas but most of them take time + money to develop + execute, which my patience cannot handle. I get so excited and want to do everything right now!
Also, many potential clients that reach out to me don't want to pay the amount I charge, even though that amount is not exceptionally high—they just know someone in the same community who will do it for a crazy low price. I'm analyzing this setback and trying to redetermine who my target client is to combat this. The person I'm designing for cares about the quality of the work and will pay for that quality.
IF YOU COULD HIRE SOMEONE FOR $20/HOUR, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE THEM DO TO MAKE YOUR DAY EASIER?
Go to school for me, please.
LET'S BRING OUT THE TIME MACHINE. WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU COULD HAVE TOLD YOURSELF, WHEN, AND WHY?
When I was 18, I thought that I peaked. Seriously. I was like, "I'm not famous yet, so it's all downhill from here." And I wish I could have told myself to calm the f*** down, and feel free to explore because I'm so young and I HAVE TIME.
IF YOU COULD TALK TO AN EXPERT TO GAIN MORE INSIGHT ON SOMETHING, WHAT WOULD IT BE ABOUT?
I'm fascinated by how small businesses keep themselves from plateauing and actually scale.
WHAT KIND OF OPPORTUNITIES/PROJECTS ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?
More event production + design opportunities as well as branding and styling projects!
WHAT IS YOUR IDEAL CLIENT?
Oh, lord. When anyone comes to me with an idea they want to execute, I freak the HELL OUT and we do it. That's how my backyard dinner series started. BUT here are three dream situations:
1. Branding a hotel and assisting in the design of the interior. Can I just work for Ace Atelier? Thanks.
2. Producing an event for a social good fashion business such as Brother Vellies. #goals
3. Collaborating with local makers to create an online shop of exclusive, functional and beautiful items in limited quantity.
WHAT IS YOUR RATE?
It's been hard to establish my desired cost while being in college—if people find out that I'm a student they are less likely to pay me the amount I charge. Either way, for branding clients I charge from $2,000-4,000 depending on their needs. Styling is hourly: $35-50. For my previous social media strategy clients, a retainer fee is $1,000 per month.
HOW SHOULD SOMEONE APPROACH YOU ABOUT WORKING TOGETHER?
Email me at email@example.com
fill out this form
HOW DO YOU STAY CREATIVE?
I go dancing, drinking, museum-ing, bowling, traveling!
This member profile was originally published in September 2016.