Grad Launches Handmade Embroidery Art Business
Sacramento, California native Ashley Johnson has loved “any and all things creative” for as long as she can remember. “I find that I am someone who is constantly looking for something new to learn and explore whether that be a creative hobby or a new interest,” says the FIDM Grad, who grew up taking sewing and art classes. After learning about FIDM in the seventh grade, Ashley immediately knew the college was the one for her. She earned an AA degree in Merchandising & Marketing from the San Francisco campus and graduated with a BA in Social Media from the Los Angeles campus earlier this year. We caught up with her to chat about graduating during a pandemic, her handmade embroidery art business Hardcore Retro, and how FIDM helped prepare her for entrepreneurship.
What was your path to FIDM? Throughout high school I took part in fashion clubs and classes that would help prepare me for FIDM. For me, I felt there was no other school that was better suited for my interests. Throughout my time at FIDM my passions and interests changed a lot, but I learned so many valuable things that I can take into my future.
You had a job lined up that was affected because of COVID. Can you tell us about it? I was working as a Manager at Free People while attending FIDM in LA. Upon graduating, I was planning to transfer through the company, but due to COVID the transfer was unable to be completed. Although this was unfortunate, I am still optimistic about what the future holds and potential career opportunities in the future.
How did you come to start Hardcore Retro? I had been dancing around the idea of a vintage clothing/record store concept and then COVID hit. Suddenly my plans for traveling and sourcing were put on hold and I was left having to think of something new to fill my time. I went to the craft store just to browse and decided to buy a small embroidery hoop and some thread and before I knew it I was creating something I could share with others. I never would have started on this path of handmade embroidery art if it wasn’t for quarantine. In many ways, this pandemic has completely changed my path in ways I never expected.
How did FIDM help prepare you for entrepreneurship? Both my AA and BA degrees taught me skills in business. Through Merchandising & Marketing, I was given the skills to learn how to build a strong brand message through in-store marketing and display as well as forecasting for the future. Through Social Media, I learned how to take that brand message and connect it to online and social platforms creating a community. The entrepreneurship classes I took at FIDM helped me identify the steps that are necessary when building brand and planning for the future.
What are your ultimate career goals for the future? My ultimate career goal is to expand and grow my own business. I hope to see Hardcore Retro grow into something much more than it is now incorporating my many interests including music and vintage. I find that I am someone who works best when I have the full creative freedom and not limited by any expectations other than my own.
Learn more at etsy.com/shop/hardcoreretro and on Instagram @hardcore.retro.