If you have been following @zellawoods on Instagram for more than 5 minutes, chances are you've seen a picture of me and my Nena & Co. Day Bag II. I take it EVERYwhere. It was love at first sight with me and Nena products - but when you learn the story behind the business there is even more to love. That's the kind of company I can identify with and want to support.
So this week, when Nena & Co. asked to feature me and my work on their blog, one of my wildest dreams came true! Eeeekkkk! To be a one-woman shop with big dreams of working with artisans internationally, featured by a company that started in exactly the same way - it's a match made in heaven. At least my idea of heaven.
Here is a little recap of the interview below. Let me know what y'all think!
Here we are with another week of "Who is Wearing Nena"! I cannot tell you how fun it is to be able to scroll through the #nenaandco to see all of your rad photos. I asked this out-of-this-world Momma to tell us more about herself - what she does, who she is, what tugs at her heart strings - and this is what she said. You are about to read some seriously beautifully worded language.
"I am Ashley Henderson - a Southern California native, living and loving in Austin, Texas. I am the lucky wife to one very selfless husband, the mommy to one very strong-willed 4-year-old daughter, and the owner // designer // maker behind Zella Woods Designs (zellawoods.com). I have been fortunate to travel a lot at a young age and even live abroad in college. However, the list of places I want to go and see gets longer every day. This exposure to travel has heavily influenced the way I see things creatively and is the foundation behind my jewelry designs. I am inspired by foreign cultures and their craft, I tend to love everything vintage and I am a firm believer in supporting handmade makers as often as possible; the same heart that lives in me, lives in them.
The passion behind my business is rooted in love - my love for family, love for travel, love for design, and above all love for God.
My grandmother had passed away before I was born, but she has always been with me. She is Zella Woods - the original inspiration and namesake for Zella Woods Designs. She was an immaculate lady in a generation that valued the idea of always looking and wearing your best, even if you spent your days in the kitchen at home. Seeing her in pictures throughout the 1950-60’s is how I’ve developed a nostalgia for all things mid-century vintage. When I work to salvage pieces of jewelry from that time period, or design new items using original parts from that era, it reminds me of her and the affinity you feel for family."
Ashley's story is so similar to the Nena story. It's like she was meant to be featured on "Who Is Wearing Nena"! Did you guys know that Ali, our founder, learned about Guatemala from her own loving grandmother and that her mother helps run Nena? Aren't family ties the best?!
"When I use materials ethically sourced from other countries, it reminds me of the whimsy and naivety of being totally immersed in a foreign place. Somewhere totally unknown, where the language isn’t understood and the culture is beyond my wildest imagination. That sense of being totally outside my comfort level; that’s where true adventure lies, and you never forget the feeling.
When my daughter came along, she was named after her great grandmother too. That sparked a totally new chapter of creativity. Now when I make custom pieces for mommies that remind them of their littles, it tugs at my heart. When I have women fighting cancer that order custom bracelets with phrases of affirmation or words of strength, that stuff means so much more than the words I inscribe. These things speak so deeply to my soul and the purpose God has put on my heart to fulfill with my hands.
My ultimate hope is to live a quiet life and work with my hands to make jewelry that people treasure like memories - timeless pieces that speak to the individual rather than the masses."
Could it be more eloquently said? I highly doubt it. I love how she said "the passion behind my business is rooted in love". We try to make that a part of our culture here at Nena too, and we hope everyone can make that a part of their business. After all, that's what a business really comes down to: the passion and the love that drives it. Love is what really makes a business successful! I also loved reading what she had to say about being a one-woman business:
"I am a one-woman business. From design, material sourcing, product fabrication, website photography, blogging, social media marketing…you name it, I do it. My hope is to grow in a way that comes alongside women in impoverished regions of other countries to incorporate their handmade craft using my designs. Alejandra has done that so beautifully with Nena & Co. She is changing the lives of families in a part of the world her heart deeply cherishes. I want to do that to. And my Nena Bag inspires me everyday, reminding me others out there are making that same dream happen."