Ivy & Gold Handcraft

Ivy & Gold Handcraft

Where Do I start, Where Do I Begin?

It’s so typical of me, I have done nothing but put pressure on myself for my first blog post. Tons of thoughts started running through my head as I sat down about a month ago to write this.  How do I start, what should I write, I hope I don’t bore people. I mean, its so important because first impressions are everything right? Despite my utter insecurities as a writer, I sat myself down with a strong cup of coffee, my macbook pro and decided to just dive right in.

Back in spring of 2007, my best friend Emily called me up one afternoon and asked me if I was interested in partnering up and starting a jewelry store. I immediately agreed, even though I had a good job working as a bench jeweler at a local jewelry store (that had benefits, benefits!!).  I was learning so much working as a bench jeweler.  I learned different things compared to what was taught to me in art school.  I learned how to set diamonds in all sorts of configurations, repair old worn jewelry.  I had acquired expert torch control and obtained pretty awesome polishing skills. Even though I was learning all these great new important things, part of me yearned for designing and making my own jewelry again.  I missed utilizing my creativity daily. I was in my mid 20’s and I figured “now is the time, I’ve got nothing to loose” aside from my health insurance, my mother reminded me.

Emily and I had talked about our dream jobs in college and owning a jewelry store was a shared dream among the other 10,000 things we had in common. It was a good business pairing, which I’m insanely grateful for.  Owning a business with a best friend can sometimes ruin a relationship if things go wrong.  Luckily, that never happened. Sure, Emily had to adjust to me running on Ashley time, which is 10 minutes behind actual time, but that would eventually change as I grew and matured from this incredible experience.


 In May 2008, Torch Song Metals opened its doors to the public in Nyack, Ny.  For the next 6 years Emily and I would work side by side in our small shop making jewelry among other interesting projects that included custom cookie cutters and setting wisdom teeth.  Like any relationship, we both brought our own individual strengths to the table and learned those traits from each other.  Not only was the business growing everyday, but our friendship was as well.  We were never competitive, instead we were supportive of each other.  Whenever either of us had a project that needed troubleshooting, the other would be there to help out.  We would continually compliment each other on the hard work that each of us would put into a custom order or passion project. The dynamic that we shared in the shop will never be matched, it was truly unique.

TSMshop1   TSMshop2



Of course, not every day was easy.  Owning a business is hard and challenging.  Eventually, I had to work 3-5 extra days a week at restaurants on top of working in the shop full time. I did this for 3 1/2 years to make sure I could make rent and then put money back in towards the business.  Ultimately, no matter how many late nights I worked making the perfect martini (so I’m told) it was all worth it. I may have been handed an extraordinary opportunity, but I had to work hard at it to keep it going.

torchsong 1


 As the years went by, our lives started changing.  We were growing.  I had finally saved enough money to quit the restaurant business to focus solely on the jewelry store. Emily got engaged (yes, I made her engagement ring).  I fell in love with a man who lived halfway across the country in Chicago.  I watched my best friend get married in a beautiful fall ceremony.  I got engaged (and yes of course, Emily made my engagement ring). Life was really, really good.

In February 2013, I had been engaged just less than a month when the conversation of “where are we going to live” came up.  My future husband was open to moving to New York so I could continue working at Torch Song with Emily.  At first this seemed great because who on earth would want to give up something they worked so hard at?  My guy had been living in Chicago for about 2 years and had a fantastic job. It was a job he had worked hard at, a dream job just 2 years out of law school. If he moved to New York he would have to give that job up.  No matter where we lived, one of us would have to give something up. I thought to myself, could I do this now? Could I move to Chicago? I had traveled back and forth between New York and Chicago for the last 6 months and really loved it there. Then it dawned on me, I had other dreams too.  Those dreams involved traveling around the country, moving around a bit and having experiences living in new places.  I grew up outside of Albany and have lived all over New York state including: Rochester, New Paltz, Kingston, Clifton Park, Nyack, and Harriman.  I had always wanted the experience of living in a big city.  It seemed like the perfect time to embark on a new adventure, just as I had moving to Nyack to open Torch Song Metals with Emily.  My future husband and I both decided that we would make a life together in Chicago.

Thus, Ivy & Gold Handcraft was born in April 2013.  I had to start all over again, but this time, I knew what I had to do.  I had the experience under my belt.  I was older, and I’d like to think wiser. I remained at Torch Song with Emily until October 2013 when I finally packed up the U-haul and set out for Chicago.

Ashley & Jeff_125_lowres

Ashley & Jeff_215_lowres

 My husband Jeff and I were married in January 2014 in Saratoga Springs New York.  Between the holidays, wedding planning, the wedding, and the honeymoon I never really got to settle into Chicago and my business until this past March.  I’m now finally settling in to daily life and I’m working on completing my home studio.

At the end of March, I went back to New York for a visit in the Hudson Valley.  I ended up bringing some tools and supplies to work by Emily’s side at Torch Song Metals for one last time before she closed the shop doors on March 30th, 2014.   Seeking out an adventure of their own, Emily and her husband have purchased a beautiful house in Buffalo, NY where Emily will set up a studio and continue creating her jewelry for her new store:  Bon Fire Craft (bonfirecraft.com).

This April marks the year anniversary for Ivy & Gold Handcraft, and so far, It’s been great.   I look forward to my next year in business as I start to blog more about jewelry, art, traveling, and life.  I hope that you all follow along with me on this adventure. I’m so grateful for all of my family, friends, and customers who have been so supportive and encouraging during my journey. I love you all!