Hello friends! Welcome to my series Coffee Date With. Each month I will be interviewing inspiring, badass, and self-reliant women to share their story, to inspire you, and to keep growing this community of women that are kicking ass and taking names. I've got some great women lined up for 2018 and want to bring you along to hang out with us. So in coffee date form, get those cups ready.
If there is one thing that I've come to see since starting SMT is that this industry of 2A women is truly inspiring and amazing. We each have our stories but we all come to together to support our right to bear arms but most of all to support and empower one another.
I love finding new women to follow and nowadays it's so easy with social media. Some of you may seen the cute tops popping up on your feed from the IG handle @caliberandcarats and if not, go check it out.
I'm excited to be having coffee with Ashley Lewis, the founder and creator behind Caliber and Carats. She is building her own brand by creating cute conceal carry friendly tops and adorable tees. She's doing it all on her own and girl bossing her way through it one cute top at a time.
So how about we get this started! Grab your coffee and join me for this Coffee Date with Ashley Lewis.
Ashley: I decided to start C&C for a few reasons. I had been blogging and my blog was constantly pulling me more in the fashion/style blogger category and that was just not what direction I wanted to go with it. I wanted to blend my outdoor lifestyle and fashion together on my blog and struggled to do so. I had always felt like I needed more of a reason to be a “fashion blogger”, not to mention I don’t like shopping and prefer online shopping. I was designing, making, and selling t-shirts already, so it got to where I needed to make it an official business and find a place where I could sell them to everyone. When things really started rolling with the website design for C&C I was also in the process of getting my LTC (license to carry). I had already decided too that I wanted to not just sell t-shirts but offer “boutique” tops. After quickly realizing that conceal carrying was going to be quite the lifestyle change, I shifted my thoughts to offering tops for the concealed carry woman.
SMT: You offer tops that cater for concealed carry. What tips should women look for when selecting a concealed carry top?
Ashley: Well I am no expert but I personally try to look for tops that appear to be wider towards the hips but still flattering. I love the baby doll and peplum style. Making sure the fabric is not see through. Living in Texas it’s pretty much hot all year long, with the exception of a few months, so layering is not really an option most of the year. I find that the darker the color of the top, the less noticeable the imprint if it is a more fitted top. I’m not a big fan of prints or loud colors typically, so I’m learning to broaden my mindset for those options.
SMT: In your shop you do a lot of custom designs. What are some of the past designs you have created that have stood out?
Ashley: It’s not exactly a custom design but I designed a t-shirt during Trump’s presidential campaign that says “Keep Calm and Act Like Melania”. It’s nothing special, very basic font on a dark charcoal v-neck t-shirt, but to this day every time I wear it people stop and tell me they love my shirt. And it’s been such a diverse group of people who come up to me to tell me that...I love it. For some reason I don’t have that design on Caliber & Carats.
SMT: Deciding to start your own business is a big decision that can be exciting, scary, and everything in-between. What challenges have you faced running your own business?
Ashley: Oh gosh, everything. I’m definitely learning how to run a business as I go and one day at a time, but one thing that I assumed would be easier is advertising/marketing using my already, somewhat, established social media platforms. It’s been quite drastic since I became an actual business (not just a blogger) the decline of engagement and amount of people that are actually seeing my content. The social media algorithms are a small businesses worst enemy I’m finding, and I’m not the best at social media to begin with.
SMT: As we know, Caliber and Carats is a 2A friendly apparel shop but how did you get into firearms?
Ashley: I’ve always been around firearms growing up and presently. Getting my LTC was something I talked about for several years before I actually did it. And it wasn’t until I was about to take the LTC class that I started looking at a firearm for myself. The whole experience has been kind of similar to getting a tattoo for the first time; you want another one almost immediately. It’s become somewhat addicting.
SMT: What is your every day carry gun and holster?
Ashley: My EDC is the Ruger EC9s, and I use an AIWB from StealthGear, thanks to you. I loved the fact that the holster didn’t look bulky, and even better doesn’t feel bulky. I’m ready to purchase a slightly more feminine holster, just for fun. But I think I’ll wait until I get another pistol.
SMT: If we were to get coffee in person (or better yet a cocktail), what would you order?
Ashley: Coffee I mostly just drink black with Xylitol or Agave for sweetener. I do love a good cold brew coffee with almond milk and maybe vanilla or hazelnut flavor. There’s a restaurant in Portland, Oregon named Harlow, I make a point to go there every time I’m in PDX and wait in line (because there is always a line) just for a cocktail they have on the menu called the Mrs. Lebowski. It’s iced coffee, with local hazelnut flavor vodka, bourbon, coconut milk and vanilla. Literally the best coffee drink I’ve ever had. On a regular basis for a cocktail I love a good margarita but would also be content with a glass of champagne, white wine or rosé.
SMT: You always have flawless skin, what are some of your beauty essentials?
Ashley: I don’t know about flawless but I try to stick with more natural products. I use coconut oil on my body on a daily basis. I exfoliate my face every day with a Burt’s Bee’s exfoliating cleanser. A must, is a good dewy moisturizer, especially because I don’t wear face makeup. My favorite moisturizers I alternate between are Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturizer and the Neal’s Yard Remedies Nourishing Orange Flower Night Cream. A beauty routine I picked up from my great-grandmother, grandmother and even my mom is using witch hazel. Pretty much anything from Neal’s Yard Remedies is a favorite. I have sensitive skin, mostly sensitive to fragrance, and all of their products are fragrance free and aromatherapy based.
SMT: I've also noticed scrolling through your Instagram feed that you hunt. How did you first get involved with hunting and what is it about hunting that you enjoy?
Ashley: Well, I haven’t hunted that much but what opportunities I have had are because of my boyfriend Mike. I’m more of a go find the game type, rather than sit and wait for the game to come to me type. I love the thrill and excitement of finding and stalking the game. We did some running and gunning, as they say, on my first turkey hunt and it was a blast!
SMT: I'm a total hunting novice so I don't even know if I'm asking this right but what's the biggest game you've hunted and what was that like?
Ashley: My first hunt was for alligator in Louisiana. Not that that is so much as hunting as it is a process, but it was a really cool experience. I got my first tom this season and instantly became hooked on turkey hunting. Predator hunting is always an option/activity anytime we are out on my stepdads land in East Texas or are in South Louisiana where Mike is from.