We had the good fortune of connecting with Ashley Shareef and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Ashley, as a parent, what do you feel is the most meaningful thing you’ve done for them?
Foster their creativity! I believe everyone has a creative side to them… it’s just a matter of knowing how you get in touch with it, and continually pursuing it. I think it’s important to also remember that “creativity” is a spectrum, inspired by a range of adventures. It can be going out into nature, painting a city on the walls of their bedroom, or their first musical. Creativity can be found through instruments, costumes (year-round), watching construction sites be built, and imaginative storytelling. Share your imagination with your kids. They are blank canvases, and the more colors you share with them, the more vibrant their foundation is for growth.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My first 7 years in business I had no boundaries… while I made great headway working everyday, I was simultaneously neglecting my creative spirit. Productive, or not… working 24/7 is not sustainable. After repeated burnout, I decided to initiate a Sit Down Season: a 3-month season for creative refueling and rejuvenation. I close the design studio, and surround myself with all the things that fill my cup. The older I’ve gotten, the more I value quiet time, opportunities to rest and looking for joy (however it may come). The time away allows me to personally, mentally and professionally reset for the next year, and create my best work. My clients admire the idea, and have even started to adopt their own Sit Down Seasons as well! I also take a lot of pride in the relationships I’ve been able to cultivate with my clients. To them, I’m not just a designer—I’m a consultant, business guru, “creative on the inside,” marketing magician, fashionista and friend. My clients are partners in business and trust my process and creative direction year to year. I have been able to ride alongside the ups and downs of client’s journeys: from their first logo, to a second round of design on their website, across digital, print, and Pop-Up Shops, and all the way to opening up a brick and mortar. Work is not easy. Building a career for yourself is not easy. Life is not easy! There is a lot of trial and error in the process. But, the challenge is to uncover what you learned from the process.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Oh, I love to eat, drink and get out! I would plan most of the fun activities for the first half of the week, this way you can end the vacation week with relaxing, pampering types of activities. Each day would start with breakfast (usually at home), followed by an activity in the afternoon. Lunch. Libations. Another activity before dinner (out or at home) and the occasional late night dessert. FOOD & DRINK: SuperMegaBien (Mojitos and all the small plates), Hungry Wolf BBQ (BBQ), The Plimoth (get the cornbread), La Loma (frozen margarita and salsa), Uchi (sushi), Dio Mio (pasta), Bar Helix (night cap), Frozen Matter (ice cream) and Izzio Bakery (Oatmeal Raisin cookie, Sin-a-bun and the flaky, croissant-bun-with-a-cherry-in-the-middle pastry), Hotbox Roasters (coffee and donuts) FUN: Museums (Denver Art Museum, MCA), Ceramics (Ceramics in the City), Plant Stores (Green Lady Gardens, Plant Garage, Birdsall & Co), Thrifting (Goldmine Vintage, Milehigh Thrift, Buffalo Exchange), Live Music (Atomga concert), Boutiques (Modern Nomad, Fice), a staycation to a nearby city (Salida, Steamboat, Aspen), karaoke (VoiceBox) PAMPER: Hair, makeup, skincare (The Hair & Image Studio), nails (Pink & White Nails, the Nest Nail Spa), massages (Woodhouse Day Spa, Massages by Michaela), hot springs (Glenwood Springs, Idaho Springs, Strawberry Springs)

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
This shoutout is dedicated to my Mom, and anyone in your circle who supports your passions! My Mom has supported me in my creative pursuits since day one. From watching the Frida Kahlo PBS documentary on repeat, to enrolling me in art camps, and driving across town for Colorado Children’s Chorale rehearsals. She bought me art supplies, my first saxophone (only for me to give up playing after high school), came to my art shows and would ask for my interpretations of all the pieces when we went to the art museum. In my teen years I was obsessed with the DaDa movement, and often went dumpster diving for materials—I would come home with handfuls of wood and ask her to help by driving me back to get more! And when I wanted to leave my prestigious, 4-year college for Art School, my Mom knew it was the best choice for me. Though not understood, my Mom recognized how important creative expression was for me. I believe having someone committed to teach, encourage and uplift you along your journey is paramount to discovering who you are, and confidently going after what you want.

Website: www.ashleygaffney.com
Instagram: @agdstudio
Linkedin: @ashleygaffney
Facebook: /creativestudioashleygaffney

Image Credits
Jen Lobo, Kahleb McAdams, Christina Kiffney

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