How Sugar & Cloth All Got Started…

Life is a funny thing, isn’t it? I get asked all of the time about how Sugar & Cloth all got started, and when finally stopped to think about it, I guess I never really told the whole story. I

t’s not really that exciting, and I definitely wouldn’t call it a magical or overnight success, but it’s a story I should tell nonetheless.

I mean, people love to hear about the girl that has no problem posting public jokes about herself and super uncomfortable winky faces for the entire internet to see (I wish, it’s more like .0001% of the internet), right?

Anyways, prepare yourself for this weird novel…

sugar and cloth behind the scenes

How I Started Blogging | Story of How Sugar & Cloth got started…

I’m 26 now, but I decided to take a break from college just before my junior year.

I was going to school for graphic design but I just wasn’t convinced it was something I saw myself doing as a career for the rest of my life, and it became really hard to stay motivated to do well when I was so unsure about life in general and committing to something forever (which is how it felt at the time).

So I decided to take a break from school, and to be honest I didn’t really have a plan for what to do next. I thought my parents were going to kill me, especially since the majority of my schooling was being paid for by a scholarship that wouldn’t be waiting there for me if and when I came back.

I actually moved from West Virginia a few months later to North Caroline where I helped with a church alongside a few close friends for a while, went through a string of weird jobs (shout out to Camera Corner, whoop, whoop!), and did a lot of contract graphic design work in between.

That contract work really sealed the deal that full-time graphic design was not for me!

Finally the economy got bad enough that I literally could not afford to live on my own in North Carolina, but I didn’t want to make the move back to West Virginia (though my heart is still there) after moving to a bigger city, so I made a big cross-country move to Texas, where my Aunt and uncle let me stay with them to get my bearings.

I got the first job I could at a local seafood restaurant to make money quickly, and finally had a moment where I just asked myself “what the heck am I doing here?!”.

In all honesty, few things in life make you re-evaluate your job quite like someone yelling obscenities at you for forgetting to bring them extra tartar sauce.

The people there were great, but I seriously loathed that job, and I decided I needed something creative to work towards to find what I really did want to pursue in life, so I started Sugar & Cloth.

I’m 99% sure my Mom, Dad, and Grandma were my only readers for a solid few months, haha!

All of the sudden I just wanted to work towards new projects all of the time! I loved the idea of getting to share what I was creating with people, even if it was just for the sake of keeping in touch with my friends and family.

I wasn’t making any money off of it by any means, but it became almost like a promise to myself that I would get out of the rut and find my passion, so I stayed accountable to it like it was my job.

I ended up meeting so many great people through Sugar & Cloth that it opened up a door for me to work at Smilebooth after meeting Brooke.

I worked there throughout the majority of my blogging career before finally taking the plunge to make Sugar & Cloth my full-time job (I’ll get into the story of turning it into a day job another time!) this past fall.

the story of how Sugar & Cloth all got started...

So now here I am just over three and half years after writing my first post (yikes!), with a new studio in East Downtown and getting the opportunity to work with brands that I really only dreamed could be my day job!

It’s been a ton of work, especially working two jobs through most of it, but it’s paid off through and through.

There were a lot more hardships, sleepless nights, and the kind of on the floor bawling your eyes out kind of tantrums in between.

I’ll spare you all of those details in a single sitting (they’re a bit much for just one cup of coffee), but a lot is told in this post that spills my secrets from last year. Aside from the bad, there were even more on the floor crying with laughter moments brought on by all of these guys.

Are there any other gripping questions you have about me or the blog? Just say hello to drop me a line!

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  1. I can’t even bEging to explain how proud i am of you, Ashely! even though we dIDn’t keep in Close contact since high school, i still had my times of stalking your Facebook profile. Your blog, and this article in particular, makes me feel close to You again. I am excited to continue to watch where this journey taKes you. You are truly an inspiration! Love you, girly!

    1. Please ignore any errors, it wouldnt allow me to correct anything After it posted and i Noitced my mistakes lol

  2. Hi Ash!! I loved reading this story and Learning how you got started. So proud of you for taking that leap of faith and ultimatelY, finding the Perfect career. The tartar sauce… Lol! Thanks for INSPIRING me everyday. You are so creative and your proJects are always fun and tasteful. I’m continually in awe of your work!! Xo

  3. Ashley,
    Your story is quite motivating. I think the most motivating part is seeing you trusted your free spirit. Im 25 going on 26 with a career not set in sight. I decided to finish school With a degree in advertising. I’m hoping it will bring out my passion but to be honest im not sure. You realizing graphic design was not for You and pursuing your passion really gets me thinking. I just ran across this blog today. I realized why i recognized sugar & cloth so mUch, because I Was a barista for a shoRt Time at Tout Suite. Who knew inspiraTion was right next Door!
    Keep it up! Your story and Passion gives some of us (in our quarter-of-life-century-crisis) a lot of hope!
    Thank you!

    1. Thanks for the sweet comment, Linden! I’m so glad this post was able to meet you where you are in life. You’re not alone, it can be done, and we’re all just fakin’ it until we make it!

  4. about 3 hours ago i clicked on a link apartment therapy posted for diy project ideas, which sent me to your site, and naturally i got sucked in by the beautiful photos and bright colors and have since pinned about 50 diy projects that I know very well I will never get around to doing. Then I had to see who the heck was making all of these pretty things, and I somehow I ended up here. And now I should probably comment on the actual post….

    1. your story is heartwarming and inspiring.

    2. you are adorable and that black and white dress is the bomb.

    3. is that cake wall at your studio??!!! because it’s a freaking dream… and now I need to paint cakes onto something.

    1. Oh my goodness, thank you so much for the kind words Julene! It totally makes my day! And sadly the cake wall is a wall installation in Miami, but I would gladly have one in the studio if I could! haha ;) xoxo

  5. Thanks for sharing your story. I’ve enjoyed watching your blog grow to authentic success, as your projects are always so creative. I especially resonate with treating a passion or “hopeful job” like a job — it makes all the difference :) Welcome to to East End.. I’m just around the corner and LOVE it here.

  6. Hi lovely Ashley!
    It has been an amazing story and it gave me strenghts to go on with my diy project.
    It is refreshing to hear about the other’s beginning to realize that you are not in the wrong way and most of the people have lived the same that you are living.
    Love your work Ashley. Your work, your ideas, your color schemes, your art direction, the Jared’s pictures… Go on inspiring all of us! <3

  7. I just started my blog and your words are very inspiring! I’ll make sure to read this every time I doubt myself. I quit my job to do what i love, but it’s just so easy right now to feel like i’m not gonna make it. Thanks for sharing your story! :)

  8. I really enjoyed this post and your story is inspiring! I’m a junior in college and I wish I could leave to find what I truly want to do with life but I’m pretty sure my parents would kill me! Plus, I’m already a little behind at age 23, so I gotta stick with something!
    Your story gives a girl like me from VA hopes that I can take this project somewhere, someday. :)


  9. Thank you so much for sharing! you hit my own problem on the head. I’m not as young as you are (unfortunately…), and have a child which makes me want to make a change even harder than before. I’m an architect and designer, but my heart REALLY sings when I work passionately on my DIY blog ( It’s uncommon to make a living from blogging here in Israel, but maybe I’ll be the first :) I can’t wait to read your next post on the subject. I love your blog, you are a real inspiration :)

  10. This was so awesome to read! Thank you for sharing this with us! I love your blog so much, you deserve all the success you had and more!

  11. Such a big fan of yours! Love hearing about how things started for you. You deserve all the success you’ve had!

  12. you should be so proud of everything you’ve accomplished, i love your site and all your fun projects!
    it’s not always easy to acknowledge when something isn’t working and you’ve made some tough decisions on more than one occasion, so you’ve got guts girl… and passion, which will continue to take you far. thanks for sharing your story!

  13. I love hearing these stories, especially the not-so-glamorous bits…always refreshing to see someone successful sharing that part! Congrats on everything you’ve done, can’t wait to see where you go next. I’ll be sending you an email too :)

  14. LOVE this post! Very inspiring and makes you realize you can do whatever you put your mind to:) Looking forward to seeing what the future holds for Sugar and Cloth!

    I was wondering did you teach yourself everything you know about photography and website building? I’m a big fan of your photos and layout wanted to see if you have any tips!

    Thanks again for sharing!

  15. Very inspiring specially when I see success doens’t come that easy like some othe rpeople say: ‘oh, I opened a blog and now I am famous’

    You are such a hardworker !

    1. No, it really doesn’t come that easy, at least not for me anyways! Though that’s totally not to say I’m super successful and famous by any means. I think my DIY polka dot bike basket gets noticed more than me! haha ;) xo

  16. This was so inspiring for so many reasons! First, I love that you don’t take yourself too seriously- the internet needs more bloggers like that. Second, I had that moment when I was like, “what am I doing with my life???” when I took the first job that came along as a teller at a bank. If you think people are mad when they get the wrong tarter sauce, imagine the anger of an overdrawn account. Third, you kept on keeping on, which is reminds me that success doesn’t happen overnight. Thank you so much for sharing!

    1. Oh man! You definitely deserve an internet hug, I can only imagine the fury! Thank you for the kind words! xoxo

  17. To think you started at Marshall and now you’re here. It’s been a fun journey to watch unfold for you! After so much hard work, you deserve all the success and recognition. <3

  18. What a great story! I’m from West Virginia as well, so I can relate to what you said about not wanting to move back although your heart is still there. It’s a beautiful State, but there’s not much there in terms of a career or a life.
    What I love most about this story is the way you said you felt excited about sharing your projects and having that outlet. You know things ‘click’ when you’re suddenly motivated to do the work and make it happen. You’re doing a beautiful job here – the passion you have for what you do shows in your work. :)

  19. Love this! Thanks for sharing. Tomorrow will be one year in from starting my blog and I agree, it is a mix of everything that gets you started but there are a few key things that keep you going forward and putting the work into making this enjoyable :)

  20. Great story! I love hearing about how people start out! Awesome Job on being so honest about money and the good and the hard times! Having a business myself – I can totally relate!

  21. What an inspiring story! I’ve always loved the whole aesthetic of your blog and your images, your content…the clean layout, the pastel colours, the beautiful photography – I’m forever finding myself pinning everything so I can continually look back at it and be inspired all over again. I’m so happy for you that you’ve finally found your passion and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Sugar & Cloth. I know I’ll be sticking around for it!

    With love ♥︎ » Paris by Friday