September 7 2017

Meet Ashleigh, Founder of Fosterie

Tell us about Fosterie?

We’re a collection of globally inspired goods for good. We design, produce, and source exclusive accessory pieces bringing handmade elements and quality to the forefront and creating a collection of global inspired handbags and accessories while fostering and empowering people and communities behind the scenes.

What is your mission?  

We strive to be a source for ethical elegance and amazing quality, where fashion and philanthropy can truly come together. Our goal is to offer beautiful, unique items that make a style statement in more ways than one. We believe in people first which is why our artisans, small batch makers, and suppliers are paid a living wage for products and services. empowering them to continue supporting themselves and their families, gain independence, and further their own business ownership experiences.

What inspired you to start Fosterie?

Throughout a year and a half of full time travel, I realized in my habit of picking up souvenirs everywhere we went I was also discovering amazing items and talent, even in some of the most dire situations. Motivated to combine my experience in retail buying and passion for travel with a greater purpose, Fosterie was born.

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How did you come up with the name?

Once the mission was nailed down, I knew wanted a name that was simple and straightforward. To “foster” means to encourage or promote development, which is what we’re trying to accomplish for the artisans who make our products. I just added and ‘ie’ to the end and here we are! 😉

What organizations do your purchases help? And how did you choose them?

We work with independent artisans and small businesses, with focus in Colombia. With the support of our customers we are able to provide consistent production for our partners, meaning a consistent income and opportunity that otherwise did not exist. We choose our partners based on product/production capabilities, quality of work, and dependability. We are so blessed to have formed such wonderful relationships with each of them!

Do you have a favorite product?

Right now, because it’s our newest item, I’m loving our tassel earrings. But the Leather Mochila Bag is the signature of our brand so I can’t leave her out! It’s such a unique and beautiful piece and the quality can’t be beat – it gets better with age!

Have there been any challenges or did anything surprising happen since you started?

With small business, there are small challenges every day but the biggest one by far for me is the language barrier. I don’t speak much Spanish and our artisans speak no English. However, with a little patience and a lot of Google Translate I’m constantly amazed how well we can communicate and the beautiful things that come from it despite the challenges. Proof that anything is possible!

How do you spread the word about your company?

We are so grateful for our community on Instagram. We really try to focus on sharing the latest and greatest news and happenings there. Otherwise, word of mouth has been HUGE for us. To have a customer share their purchases and excitement with their friends and family means everything. I love learning about how our customers were lead to us. And as important as it is to meet new customers, I communicating with our current customers is one of my favorite things. In our email newsletters, I often ask for feedback or opinions and am always so excited to receive direct replies – they are honest and helpful, from some of the  best, kindest, sweetest people I could dream of and it means SO much to have their support.

Do you have a favorite quote or go to saying?

I have several but this one always seems to rise to the top:  “No act of kindness, no matter how small is ever wasted.” Sometimes in this crazy world it can seems like we’re not making much of a difference, but in reality it all matters. Whether it’s a smile to a stranger or small genuine act of caring – we always have an opportunity to improve someone’s mood, day, or life and we don’t have to “go big” to do it.

Do you have any advice for young entrepreneurs?

Stick with it, but don’t be afraid to make changes or forge a different path. I started a multitude of “businesses” from stationery to blogging to social media before finding something that felt most like me (yep, that’d be Fosterie). It took many years for my experience and talents to come together but I still apply things I learned each and every day. For example, a now closed Etsy shop taught me about writing copy, blogging taught me about the importance of good photography (which comes in handy for selling products!). The knowledge you learn and gather along the way will benefit you later, no doubt. Experience is everything!

About She's Fit to Lead

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