Miss A Columnist

Lesley Haenny is the Seattle Editor for Miss A. She is an Air Force wife now living in the Seattle area. Prior to living in Seattle, Lesley spent 7 years in Washington, DC, working as a Congressional liaison. She grew up in a small, mountain town in Southern California, sandwiched between an older sister and a younger brother. Her two hard working parents taught her to always go for the clearance rack, bring your lunch everyday, work hard for what you have, and always take the opportunity to travel and play outside. Lesley has been actively involved in various charities such as the Animal Resource Foundation, Komen For the Cure, Prevent Cancer Foundation, American Diabetes Association and the Race for Hope (benefitting the National Brain Tumor Society and Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure).

Charity Meets: Angelique Ashton

What are three words that best describe you? Passionate, Idealistic, Diva

Q. Could you describe your business?

A. I’ve always enjoyed making my own costumes and accessory pieces for costumes for Halloween or theme parties or pageants, there just aren’t enough theme parties to keep up with my need to keep creating. I need a theme party to go to, like, every night of the year. So Angelique Ashton Designs has evolved, is still evolving to be a custom costuming business, with a little accessory design and event production thrown in there. I enjoy putting on a show, so I produce Bedecked! which is my annual fashion show and always a lot of fun. Lastly, I’m the Executive Fashion Editor for MODE Magazine, which was founded by a good friend of mine, Larissa Long. I’m enjoying helping her realize that dream and hope to see the magazine really take off.

Angelique in one of her own designs (Photo Credit: Christopher Chapman)

Angelique in one of her own designs (Photo Credit: Christopher Chapman)

Q. What is your role, where are you based and what inspires you most about your work?

A. My role at Angelique Ashton Designs is “the one woman show,” so I wear a lot of hats. That pretty much describes my life overall, I just wear a lot of hats. and many of them have feathers and rhinestones. I’m inspired by my own work when a piece comes out something that is the main focal point in every photo or every crowded room. If all eyes are on what I made and people are talking about it, I’m happy and I want to find ways to build on that momentum. or maybe I just like attention.

Q. Was there anything in your past that pointed you in the direction you’ve taken?

A. A friend got me into the fashion business by accident. I was working full time in a field that was not providing me enough of a creative outlet, (which I still do, but now that I have my outlet the “day job” is a little less tedious) when she told me about a fashion show she was interning with to get experience in the business and asked if I wanted to show some of the things I’d been tinkering around with on the runway. Me? I thought she was nuts, my “costuming” work was nothing more than corsets ripped off of old bridesmaids dresses from the Goodwill and covered in stuff I glued on them. How could that be suitable for a runway show? But what the heck, I thought, I’ll give it a shot. There was no turning back. That runway show changed my life. I was so welcomed and encouraged by the community of fellow artists that night, I felt accepted, I felt like I belonged in that environment. People actually liked my glued together rhinestone and tulle fluffy hot mess of a collection, and I thought, ok I can do this better next time . . .

Q. What experience in your career are you most proud of?

A. Probably the production two years running of a great fashion show featuring exciting local talent. Its a lot of work but the chance to provide a platform for local talent to have their work seen is worth the effort.

Q. What advice would you share with those still in school?

A. I’ve learned that Seattle has a thriving and vibrant community of fashion professionals and talented up and coming artists waiting to be discovered. I’ve also learned that these people are a wonderful close knit community that embraces newcomers, and sticks up for one another. Lastly, I’ve learned that most of these wonderful people, don’t make any money doing what they do. The fashion scene may be vibrant and thriving here, but a lot of work is done on a trade basis. It takes a long time of trading your services to build up a following and a good portfolio before you can get paid work, or get anything into stores. I would offer the advice to anyone thinking about starting a business in fashion in this area, by all means if you want to create, create. If you want to make money, um, maybe try accounting?

Angelique Ashton Design mask (Photo Credit: Angelique Ashton)

Angelique Ashton Design mask (Photo Credit: Angelique Ashton)

Q. Why is giving back is important to you?

A. I think when you consider yourself a member of a community, you should feel the need to contribute something to it, it should just be a natural thing. Since we’re all members of the global community, there should be an innate desire in each of us to contribute to the world as well, and I think that desire is there, I just think that a lot of people don’t act on the desire, or don’t really know how or where to start.

Q. How has giving back helped you?

A. It’s very rewarding to put your own gifts to use for something other than making yourself money once in a while. Even if its just donating an outfit to someone who can’t afford to pay me, that’s what being part of an artistic community is all about, we help each other out, we donate services, in turn friends that I’ve made in the industry are always there when I need them.

Q. How do you incorporate giving back into your life?

A. Being involved with the Mrs. Washington Pageant has given me the opportunity to work with many charities that I may never have discovered if it weren’t for meeting women who were involved with them through the pageant. Recently, I’ve also taken up leadership of the Seattle Chapter of a an organization called Heart 2 Serve, which is sort of a training program for volunteerism. Heart 2 Serve has actually been great when it comes to incorporating charity work into my regular life, because its given me the chance to reconnect with organizations I have worked with in the past, and lump all of my various random charitable things under one umbrella.

Q. Which charities are near and dear to you and why?

A. A few of my favorites are The Ruby Room, whose annual fashion show I participate in by creating gowns out of the ugly rejected prom dresses among their donations for auction at the show, Queen Its a New Day, who helps women recovering from abuse and addiction rebuild their self esteem and their lives, and Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and Environmental Working Group, two organizations close to my own heart because my husband suffers from chemical injury.

Q. When it comes to your own philanthropic efforts, what do you look back and feel made the largest impact on those that you set out to help?

A. I’m pretty proud of the donation we managed to raise this year for Environmental Working Group from ticket sales to Bedecked! People living with multiple chemical sensitivities are a very often ignored and brushed aside group, so I was happy to be able to put some funds towards EWG’s efforts in education and awareness of the condition.

Bedecked! II (Photo Credit: Mike Adams)

Bedecked! II (Photo Credit: Mike Adams)

Q. What is the most creative fundraising idea you’ve come across?

A. I don’t know about the most creative, but I always love a charity fashion show.

Q. What are some must-attend charity events for you?

A. Ruby Room’s annual Fashion Faux Pas to Fashion Fabulous show! October 19 this year.

Q. What brands do you wear most often?

A. Somehow, completely unintentionally, Calvin Klein has taken over my wardrobe.

Q. What is your favorite beauty product?
A. I actually make most of my own beauty products. I make my own facial lotion out of aloe, shea butter, cocoa butter, grapseed oil and vitamin E oil. That’s probably my favorite item. Its really soothing at the end of the day when the make up comes off.

Q. How would you describe your home décor?

A. I would say cool. When you walk into our living room you can tell that my husband and I are people who appreciate art without being stuffy about it, like color, enjoy movies and have style. You know, we’re just cool people.

Q. What is your secret for hosting a great party?

A. Make it fun. Having things that are interactive and engage the guests always end up making the best parties.

Q. Favorite food:

A. Ice cream.

Q. Favorite cocktail:

A. Mostly I drink wine, its easy to keep track of how much I’ve had and one tends to drink it slowly. If I’m going all out and plan to be sitting somewhere for a while I’ll order something decadent like a chocolate martini.

Q. Favorite restaurant:

A. I love Japonessa next to the Seattle Art Museum, best sushi in Seattle. Their deep friend “Super Bad Boy roll” – to die for.

Q. If you could host a dinner party for 8, who would you invite living or dead?

A. Oooh I got this as a question in a pageant interview one time. I flubbed it in the moment, but now that I’ve had time to think about it I’d say: I’d want to have some interesting but controversial personalities at the table; Freddy Mercury, Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga, Marilyn Monroe. Then I’d throw in some political figures like JFK and the current sitting President and First Lady (doesn’t matter who that is), and lastly I’d sit John Stewart at the head of the table and just sit back and watch.

Q. Favorite vacation spot:

A. Las Vegas. I love the lights and glitter.

Angelique Ashton Design (Photo Credit: Angelique Ashton)

Angelique Ashton Design (Photo Credit: Angelique Ashton)

Q. Favorite TV show:

A. Supernatural. Its like Buffy the Vampire Slayer but with two hot guys.

Q. Favorite movie:

A. Of recent history: Memoirs of a Geisha.
Of all time: The Princess Bride

Q. Favorite song:

A. Prince’s “Little Red Corvette”, possibly tied with The Eagles’ “Take it Easy”

Q. Favorite book:

A. Interview with the Vampire

Q. Favorite apps:

A. I’m not really that into apps. I like that I can check my bank account balance using my bank’s app, that’s kind of nice.

Q. iPhone or Android:

A. iPhone.

Q. Favorite workout:

A. I don’t enjoy working out. When I must, yoga.

Q. Where do you get your news?

A. Television and radio both, I know there’s a trend toward strictly relying on your Facebook or Twitter feed to bring you the news of what’s going on in the world, but you don’t really get all the details that way, not enough to be truly informed. My husband and I watch the local and world news every night. And John Stewart and Steven Colbert.

For more information follow Angelique on Twitter or like her on Facebook.

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