It reads sort of like a modern day fairy tale. A young, bright, determined young woman, with Texas roots (Dallas), leaves her business career that had become a little boring, to head to Africa to reach out and make a difference. Deeply touched by what she encounters, Ashley Pittman sets out to use the skills she acquired, both in law school and in the finance industry, to build a sustainable company that will provide much needed employment and business training to local artisan groups.
On one of her trips, she meets the proprietor of a small shop that sells clothing as well as designs of local horn artisans. A partnership is formed. The collection features horn, semi-precious gemstones, bronze and other materials indigenousto Kenya. In NYC, her baubles happen to catch the eye of the Bergdorf’s GM who asks to sell her jewels in their store. She has success selling there. Her jewelry also happens to catch the eye of many of NYC’s magazine editors, (check out this month’s Harper’s Bazaar, pg. 91) and gets her collection purchased for ALL Neiman Marcus stores. Did I mention that all of this has happened in less than 9 months from her first retail sale?! That is what Ashley Pittman shared with me when we chatted last week on the Designer Jewelry floor of Neiman Marcus Houston Galleria. She talked with strong conviction about this jewelry collection and what it meant to the people of East Africa. She also introduced me to her staff of hard-working young women……there are 4 of them in total that work tirelessly to make all of this happen. I found it all amazing. So, to all of you aspiring design talent out there, fairy tales like Ashley’s do come true if you are committed enough, work hard enough and have enough passion in what you’re doing!!!
To see more of Ashley Pittman’s collection, found exclusively at Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman, to learn of her foundation’s work and see first hand what she is accomplishing for African women, visit her site at www.ashleypittman.com
Also, note: Ashley donates 10% of all profits to help fund a rural health center and primary school in an area of Kenya particularly hard-hit by prolonged drought.