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You may have seen creator of Ask Ashe, Nicola Ashe, around online – and if you haven’t yet, well then welcome and please enjoy your stay with this passionate and authentically driven lifestyle blogger.

Having only recently taken the plunge to become a full-time freelance content creator and brand consultant, Nicola has already spent five years cultivating her unique voice through what was first a hobby, but is now her profession.

Nicola Ashe

1. What first attracted you to blogging?

I first discovered the international interior blogs in the late 2000’s and was mesmerised – there was a suddenly a place online where I could swoon over décor pics like those you could only see in the magazines that CNA was charging over a hundred bucks for! Bear in mind that pinterest didn’t exist back then…

So 6 years ago, when blogging was still very new in SA, I wanted to just write and post what I loved online – a chronological ‘vault’ of ideas and info. I initially thought that just my friends and family might follow, but it’s since evolved and given me a few great opportunities along the way.

 

 

 

2. Coming from an advertising / marketing background, which do you value more – visuals or words, and why?

Visuals for sure – the words could be amazing thereafter, but it’s the visual draws me in, in the first place to read further. Both instagram & pinterest are testament to the fact that a visual has the power to tell a story all its own. I went back through the accounts I follow on pinterest & instagram after thinking about this question and most of them are followed for sheer picture-porn – there are some crazy talented stylists and photographers on instagram and their pics don’t need any words whatsoever.

 

ask ashe buggy

3. Take us through your average day?

I recently left full-time employment to venture off into the world of freelancing, which has been both gratifying and flipping petrifying! It does mean though, that my average day looks far different these days and so far, it’s for the better. I spend most mornings in my home office, catching up on the news online and reading blogs, as well as trawling instagram & pinterest for my visual fix – usually in my pj’s. I manage my own social accounts, as well as those of a few clients, so I’m mostly stuck behind my laptop, but I do try to change it up a bit and will venture off to wherever the wifi takes me.

 

4. Where’s the most unlikely place you’ve found inspiration, and why?

I think inspiration is everywhere, so I wouldn’t say anywhere was unlikely. I’m one of those people who shares whatever I like online – be it my morning smoothie, a quote in a cool font, or a pic of the Durban beachfront. What I’m not inspired by, is people who bitch about what other people post online – like they have the monopoly on what is cool to put on there.

 

5. What would be your ultimate weekend in Durban?

Food, food food! A spontaneous Friday night out with mates – most probably at the new S43 restaurant & bar on Station Drive, or Unity with a selection of tapas. Breakfast in bed on Saturday, or a trip to Afro’s on South Beach for a chicken and tjips ‘regmaker’, depending on how raucous the night before was…

I love Durban’s markets, so depending on the weekend, I head to I Heart Market on a Saturday or The Morning Trade on a Sunday, for Funny Bunny burgers or Lets Be Souvlaki. And I have a particular soft spot for Smith’s Bakeshop polenta & granadilla cupcakes – they are sinfully good.

Nicola Ashe Morning Trade

6. What is your favourite subject to write about?

I’m passionate about South African design and craft and love sharing the exceptional talent we have here, particularly in Durban. It’s one of the main reasons I was drawn to going freelance – to allow me more time to discover and write about local creatives and share their talent – I’m looking forward to showcasing more of them on the blog in future. I’m also pretty obsessed with décor & interiors, as well as renovation, so I enjoy collaborating with brands on those subjects or writing about my own interior escapades.

 

Ask Ashe Coffee

7. Coffee or tea?

Coffee hands down, a flat white. Most often a ‘solo meia, wet, to hamba’ from vida – or an iced coffee, as Durban is a tad warm in summer.

 

8. How do you balance working with brands and still keeping your authentic voice?

I made a point when I started blogging to only write about places, events, brands and people that I had only ever personally visited, worked with, eaten at, stayed at, or engaged with and which I would really recommend. And that hasn’t changed.

All of the info shared on the blog over the first 5 years was not paid for – Ask Ashe was a sideline hobby for me, which I spent my spare time on, whilst working a full time job. I wasn’t writing for money and I always wrote posts the same way I would tell someone something in person.

I’d often meet people for the first time who’d read my blog and they’d say I spoke just how I wrote, which for me was a good thing.

So I think those first 5 years allowed me to establish an authenticity that I’m now carrying through to any work I do with brands, which I might be compensated for. I don’t regurgitate press releases and I won’t write about something I have not experienced first-hand – and the brands I collaborate with are aware of this up front and appreciate that.

 

Ask Ashe beachfront

9. What would be the best piece of advice you could give in 10 words?

A quote – “Life isn’t nearly as serious as the mind makes it out to be”
– Eckart Tolle

 

10. Which is your favourite social media platform and why?

Yoh that’s a tricky one! I love Instagram, but am a relative newbie at it personally, so I mainly just enjoy finding other instagrammers – especially international interior stylists and décor gurus – it’s like disappearing down a rabbit warren each time I find a new one. That suggested users tool on Instagram is like crack cocaine!

But blogging is my home and I use bloglovin’ to follow over 300 blogs to find daily inspiration.

 

11. What’s next?

A few new clients hopefully, the launch of my new blog layout which the amazing Nicola Tweed is working on and continuing to search for that little enigma which apparently exists between a healthy work & life balance. Oh and not taking life so seriously!

Instagram: @askashe
Twitter: @AskAshe
Pinterest: askashe
Blog: askashe.com

 

Thanks Nicola!

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