Interviewing Awesome: The Ashley Frank Edition

It’s time to interview some more awesome.  This is interview #2 from the #InterviewingAwesome series.  Basically it’s a chance for me to hang out with and learn from some pretty incredible, forward thinking, driven, and just all around awesome people.

Feel free to share this and upcoming interviews using #InterviewingAwesome

Today’s gest is Ashley Frank. She is the founder and president of The Music Life Apparel, which just launched their online store today.  (Check it out)

Ashley FrankAshley was a classmate of mine in college.  She was, as she mentions in the interview, very involved in sports, but made a huge transition in her life when she quit coaching cold turkey and went to work at a local music shop.

She’s driven, passionate, and she’s thinking outside to box.  I hope that this interview will not only introduce you to an awesome clothing company, but to a pretty incredible and inspiring entrepreneur.

First of all, Thank you Ashley for allowing me to interview and learn from you.  As an entrepreneur myself, I feel like I can never learn enough so having someone that’s in the trenches at the same time as me, is really cool.

The first question that I always like to ask people is this: “What is your story?”  Who are you? Where did you come from physically but also tell us where you come from as a person. The journey that you’ve been on as an individual. 

Hi! 🙂 My name is Ashley Frank. You can call me an Arizona native, I was born and raised in Phoenix. Growing up, I was surrounded by music. My dad and I would play piano together; I’d even put on little musicals in my living room. As I got older, I strayed a bit from music and was very involved in sports. Throughout high school and college, I played/coached basketball full time. Going into my third year as a professional coach, I just realized it wasn’t for me. People said I was crazy, but I quit. Once I left the sports world, I had to discover who I was without that. I decided to go back to my roots. My dad owns a local “mom and pop” piano shop in Phoenix; it’s where I re-discovered my childhood adoration for music, and the lifestyle associated with it. I thought I might later regret that decision but it has now become the best decision I’ve made so far in life.



Switching careers like that sounds absolutely terrifying but tell us the story of your business. What led you to start your own clothing company?

As any business owner knows, business is just a lot of hard work and grinding. Ironically, the initial idea really came to me out of the blue with very little effort on my part. The name and idea really just struck my brain one day. I had been working at my dad’s music store & I wanted to start selling some of our instruments online. He had asked me to come up with a name for our online store. I was trying to come up with a name that kind of encompassed music and what it means to us musicians. That’s when I thought of the name “The Music Life”. After launching our little online store, I fell in love with the name so much that I decided I wanted to do more with it. What better way to show my passion for music than wearing it, and providing apparel for other music lovers to do the same? It doesn’t matter whether you are a Grammy award winning singer or just some kid sitting with her dad at the piano. Music is so much more than a song or instrument; it’s part of the human experience.

I couldn’t agree more.  Music shapes us. 

Now from what I understand, your passion is much bigger than just starting another clothing company.  You have a vision for a community of musicians and your hope is to connect them via what they wear which is a really cool idea.  Clothing is something that everybody has to have and so in that regard it’s an awesome business to be in but fashion is a fairly competitive market.  What sets you apart and how do you overcome the challenge of being one of the millions of options for consumers?

That is a great question! I wouldn’t even bother going into business if I wasn’t asking myself the same question every day. You put it politely, but the fashion industry really is a dog-eat-dog world. Consumers won’t care about “just another brand”. The thing that sets TMLA (The Music Life Apparel) apart from others is we are offering a specific concept, culture, and lifestyle brand that is targeted to a specific group of people: musicians.  TMLA is specifically for musicians and music lovers who love “the music life”. This could range from professional musicians, gigging musicians, or even those who just love to tink around with a guitar. By wearing TMLA, they show that they are part of an exclusive culture of people who cultivate their own lives with auditory art forms. Now, to be clear, I didn’t want to just throw out a broad target just to anyone who loves music; I believe that it would be too broad, as there are many “musical” shirts out there. One of the first steps I took was to trademark the phrase “The Music Life”. If you want to be part of the movement, you have to go through the TMLA brand.

Can you tell us about a road block that you’ve hit and how you’ve overcome it.  I’m sure there are a ton.  Starting a business from scratch brings up all kinds of complications and issues.

Haha! There are so many how can I pick only one roadblock?! Just kidding. Honestly, the biggest complication has been making sure I have all the little details that go with the paper work and government filing. It’s insane how many forms you have to fill out in order to become and maintain a legal business. There are so many i’s to dot and t’s to cross, just to make sure you are a legitimate business. So far, that’s been the biggest challenge. I’m grateful to have some great legal folks who have really helped me with all of that.

Surrounding yourself with people that can mentor you and help you through the miles of red tape is key.  Part of the business the I’m currently starting is to provide life coaching which is a fancy word for mentorship, and help people unlock the power of their own personal story. Do you have any advice for people that don’t have strong mentors about how to find them?

Mentorship is a very important part of starting a business. Without guidance, you are left to guess about things all by yourself. I’ve found that having people to bounce ideas off is huge in becoming successful. I’ve been lucky to have my dad around. He’s owned a local music store in Phoenix for over 40 years. He’s been my go-to guy in times where I have no clue what to do. I guess my advice would be to find people who have good character and integrity. Look for people who have a good standing with the community. Someone who has a good grasp on the type of business you are trying to start. Some people can give good advice, but don’t know enough about your field to really give you advice in your specific area of need. Just do your homework. Find people who have been successful in your field of business and reach out to them. You can’t be shy. I’ve been absolutely amazed at the help I’ve received just because I asked.

That is such a good point.  Sometimes asking is all it takes and I like what you said about finding people with good character too.  There are plenty of successful people out there that I don’t really want to take advice from and as a young entrepeneur I think it’s helpful to know that it’s okay to ignore those people. 🙂

With that being said, day to day business can begin to get overwhelming for entrepreneurs.  There are always a million different people trying to get you to read their e-book or try their CRM software.  There are marketing strategies, social media campaigns, conferences, networking meetings, and various other things that you could be doing.  How do you decide, which things are worth pursuing?

Well, I think that many avenues of marketing can be effective, depending on what your business is. In my initial plans, I’m focusing having all my sales 100% online. With that, most of my time marketing will be spent on social media avenues like Instagram, Pinterest, & Facebook. Networking is also a great help. Since I will be marketing to musicians, I’ll always be reaching out to musicians/musical artists to help grow my business.

Thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview Ashley.  I wish you all the luck in the world and hope that your Website launch today goes absolutely amazing. 

Thank you so much for the opportunity to answer some awesome questions, I really appreciate it.

Please take a second to check out the new Music Life Apparel online store.  

Procedes help provide insturments to kids who can’t afford them.

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