Transforming my hobby into a business - A’EL ESTE

Transforming my hobby into a business

Inserito da Ashlee Kalantarian il giorno

Watch the video first to hear our announcement!



Our Announcement


My house has been taken over by Ashlee Lauren. Our garage is the studio, our study is the packaging room and our living room is my office. My boys ride their plastic Big W trikes through here at top speed while we work and I’m constantly using my computer to print off pictures of Hulk so they can colour in. I will always remember this part though, the fact I can be home with them when they finish school so they can start ‘working’ with me.

It’s taken us 2 years to decide to move from hobby to business, it wasn’t an easy decision or a smooth journey but that’s what comes with taking risks. And I was about to take the biggest risk of my life.

In 2017, I decided to design my first spring racing collection. It was so much fun being able to use colour and unlimited creativity. We did a photoshoot with the talented Jessica Abby Photography out at the Barn Stables. My sister in law (and Fashion Stylist) Kellie and I borrowed dresses and planned our first semi-organised shoot and it was epic! I think the images really show how much fun we had that day, and it was these images that changed everything.

We released the spring racing images in March 2017 and in May that same year we were asked to participate in New York Fashion Week. 100% unprepared and undermanned we agreed and dived headfirst into unknown waters but came up inspired and with more direction that I could have ever imagined.


Over the past 18 months, I have crammed as much business knowledge into my already cloudy mum brain and with my little team of Dani, Alex, my mum Chris and myself we have been riding the waves of a start-up business.

Any business owner will tell you about the rollercoaster you ride, the ups and downs..but on this particular day I was definitely up. Like way up.

I received an email from a Millinery Buyer at Myer asking if I was interested in ranging my brand in their stores.. What?!! You mean us here in Mt Gambier, who work out of our garage, will be in Myer? Pure elation and of course shock!


I actually felt somewhat prepared, ready for my next challenge. We had already planned for our new collection to be shot in April and we would have samples ready to meet with the millinery and jewellery buyers the week after the shoot. In 5 days, I needed to get the images edited and a lookbook made. Easy, right? It was chaos, but it was a plan.

The plan somehow worked thanks to a well-oiled team of professionals including Kellie Nobes, Dani Tucker, Katie Fox, Bridget Stubbings and photographer Grelt Watson-Blazewicz who is a magically talented editing wizard. And of course my mum who helps me in every aspect of organising/making and my husband and dad who juggle the kids while I’m working.


A special mention to the ever-amazing Chris Kontos who assisted us with styling and general organisation of the photoshoot. Without his knowledge and guidance these images wouldn’t have been possible. Also shout out to all the designers who allowed us to borrow their lovely dresses! (As you can tell we LOVE doing photoshoots!)



The samples were finalised, photos were perfection, look book was I had to have the meeting. With Myer. In Melbourne.

We had no idea what to expect, I brought mum with me and we were met with the loveliest women who did nothing but praise our work. It was all very positive and from what we could see it was all going to go ahead. We received an order in June and from there it was all real. After a lot of hustle, organisation, delegation and long nights we dropped off our 6 boxes to the distribution centre in Myer three days before cut off time. Relief!




It’s incredible what goes on behind the scenes, the amount of work that has to be done to get products ready is a lot for a small team like us, but we made it happen. I'm very grateful for what we are able to do while working from home and amongst a creative team of extraordinary women.

Selected stock is available now in Myer. Currently, our stores are Melbourne City, Chadstone and Sydney.

We are also very excited to again have the amazing Coco and Lola as our stockists in Melbourne City, Sydney and Perth. And a new stockist for us – Arbory Store in Echuca Victoria! Make sure you go in and visit our products in one of the above stores, try them on and take one home! We're so excited to get to Melbourne to have a look ourselves!


Thank you so much to everyone for your continued support of our little team, we couldn’t do it without you.


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