Career Profile: Ashley Scott of Scout Modern
Ashley Scott caught my eye when I came across some of her designs in an Interior Decor facebook group we both belong to. I loved just about every little tidbit that she posted, and to me, she was total #goals. I feel so lucky and honoured that we have become internet acquaintances (bordering on friends, dare I say!) through the months and I just HAD to ask her if she would be interested in doing a career profile when I started this new segment. She said yes, and the rest is history!
I absolutely love when you meet someone who is living out what they were made to do. Ashley was made to design beautiful spaces. That's just a fact.
Without further ado, I'd love to invite you to read along with my quick Q&A style interview with Ashley, and also, see some of her gorgeous designs as you scroll. Enjoy!
Name: Ashley Scott
Company: Scout Modern
Job Title: Founder & CEO/ Designer
How long have you been doing that? 2 1/2 years
What was your ﬁrst (related) job, and how did you get it?
I’d done a couple things for friends and photographed the spaces and built a pretty basic website. I used social media and lots of word of mouth to start marketing myself and it kinda took off from there. My ﬁrst paying client had found a project I’d done for a friend through a hashtag on Instagram. That project led to another and then another and I soon realized this wasn’t just some hobby thing I was doing but that I was serious about growing a business and a brand. Along the way I’ve ﬁgure out how to charge for my services and be proﬁtable.
How did you get to where you are? What is your background?
My background is in a few different things, none of which I ever predicted would lead to this career. Living in Los Angeles, I spent my 20’s doing everything from waitressing to acting (I still have commercial representation), to being a Pilates instructor. It wasn’t until a few years ago, while pregnant with my son that I decided to pursue my passion and took the leap to start my own interior business.
What does a typical day at work look like for you? How many hours do you usually work (if you don't mind me asking)?
I’m never not working, to be honest. With owning a small business, or any business I’m sure, the work never ends. Whether it’s ﬁnding inspiration, sourcing for my clients, installing for a client, working with my photographer to shoot a completed project, adding to my blog (hardly ever), social media, emails, or the mundane tasks- you get it… That said, I get the bulk of my work done three days a week while my kiddos are in preschool and sorta just work through the chaos as needed on the days when they’re home.
I am always so curious about this, but what is in your (real or proverbial) "work bag"?
My work bag is a notebook and pen, a laser measuring tool and a good old-fashioned tape measure- and of course my MacBook & iPhone. Besides that, I have a tool bag with an assortment of other goodies that I bring on install days. This includes everything from a hammer to a steamer and anything else I might need in between.
What do you love most about your job?
I most love the chance to be creative! I love coming up with fresh and challenging ideas, I want to push the boundaries. From the initial client meeting where my brain starts exploding with ideas, to the execution and client reveal, I really do love it all. Oh, and I also love shoot days with my photographer. Those are always fun!
What is the one thing you have to do for your business, that is your least favourite?
Anything that is not creative- accounting and taxes, permits, business licenses (i.e., all the crap you have to do to keep a business running). I have to say I also don’t loooove blogging (besides the Artist Spotlight’s I feature, these I do love). I always feel like I’m behind and can’t catch up here. I used to put a lot of pressure on myself but I’ve turned that energy more towards other things and hey, if I can get a blog post out every so often, then great!
What keeps you going when you feel overwhelmed and stressed/how do you keep a check on your work-life balance?
Well, the easy answer here is wine and lots of it. Seriously though, I’m learning how to pump the breaks when I need to, to trust in the slow moments (knowing that things will & do pick up) and not taking on more than I can handle. I’m embracing the ebbs and ﬂows of running a business and trying to enjoy the process along the way. My ﬁrst couple of years things were a little different- I put a huge amount of stress and pressure on things because I wanted to grow very quickly. I was so thirsty for success that I took on every project I could. Now I have a better handle on my goals, I know the value I bring and I’m selective about the projects I’ll take. Also, putting my computer down and taking a walk around the neighbourhood with my family does wonders.
You have a family, so how does that change the way you see your career?
In the beginning, I felt like I was on a time watch and need to grow at some super-human pace all while raising babies full time. I felt like I needed to prove something to someone, or at least to myself. But in these past 2 1/2 years what I’ve realized is that I have these two amazing little humans who actually are growing at a rapid pace, and I don’t want to miss that. So, while I’m still hyper-focused on being successful, and all the other business achievements I’d like to reach, I’m also ok looking at the bigger picture and I have many years ahead of me to grow.
If you could give any advice to a younger version of yourself, what time in your life would that be, and what advice would you give?
I think the younger version of me- during many different times in my life could use this advice: SLOW DOWN. And also, don’t sweat the small stuff.
How did you know that you were ready to take the leap into being a business owner?
I can’t say I knew that I was ready. I didn’t have a business degree or stacks of money laying around to start a business, I just knew I was hungry for something of my own. And at the time, I was pregnant and it seemed like as good a time as any to just go for it. I think looking back I always knew I’d be a business owner and always enjoyed being creative; it just took me a while to realize that turning my passion into a business was something I was actually capable of.
For the practical side of that question, what did you do to prepare yourself, ﬁnancially, personally, professionally, etc?
I did a lot of research, formed an LLC and invested very little in the beginning. I went into it knowing that most businesses aren’t proﬁtable in the ﬁrst couple years and so I was prepared to continue to reinvest into the business. My goal was to start small and use each project to grow into the next one. Mostly, I’m learning along the way…
If you experienced a time or a season of failure, how did you know whether to keep going or to call it quits and start again?
There’s A LOT of self-doubt that comes with working in a creative ﬁeld and I’d be lying if I said there haven’t been moments along the way where I’ve wanted to call it quits but anyone who knows me would tell you, I’m just too stubborn.
What advice would you give to someone who is wondering if they should make the leap from full-time work to being an entrepreneur?
I’d say be ready to hustle. And I’ll reference my favourite quote:
Success isn’t a result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on ﬁre.
- Arnold Glasgow
I know it's like picking children....but do you have a favourite project?
I really do love them all but I’d say my absolute favourite was one of my ﬁrst projects- actually my ﬁrst BIG projects. It was a 3-story townhouse in Santa Monica & a completely blank slate. My client was so fun and daring and basically gave me carte blanche. I used a gorgeous ﬂoral wallpaper to make a big statement in the home and went full-on glam. It was my ﬁrst big project, and the ﬁrst I’d submitted for publication- it’s been featured on Apartment Therapy & HGTV.com. I love the design, and it was just a great experience all the way around.
Just for fun, let's do a top five:
Favourite thing in your closet? Currently, it’s my Levi’s 501 Wedgie jeans, light wash.
Favourite thing (or room) in your home? My kids room, we’ve just moved them into the same room with their cute little toddler beds. Pics coming soon!
Beauty product you don't want to live without? Can I say all? Ha! Probably my Givenchy mascara and moisturizer (Kate Somerville)
Guilty pleasure? Beer. I just developed a taste for beer in the last year or so. Sure, I drank beer as a young rebel at parties and stuff. But now I actually really enjoy it, so crisp and refreshing!
Biggest Pet Peeve? Messiness I think?? I asked my husband what he thinks my biggest pet peeve is and he said: “um you have a lot”. That’s a fair assessment.
Thank you to the creative and ever-loverly Ashley Scott. It was such a pleasure to get to know her and her work a little bit better, and I just found her to be so inspiring! I am almost certain that after seeing her work, and reading what she had to say, you too, are a new Scout Modern fan, if you weren't already.
Thanks for reading!