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Q1: Tell us a little about yourself.
Hello. I’m Ashlee. I’m from Raleigh originally, but currently residing in Charlotte. I’m a wife, a mother and a creator. I’ve been creating as long as I can remember. As a child I loved painting, gluing, sculpting . . . etc. Pretty much anything that made a mess, although I wasn’t always good at cleaning up. Not much has changed. I work in my at home studio moving from surface to surface, only stopping to clean up when there is no more table space available work on.

Q2: Share with us about your art form and how you came to fall in love with it.

I fell in love with clay during high school and ended up going on the get a BFA with an emphasis in ceramics. I found it very exciting to create something from nothing. There was no canvas to restrain the size or shape of my creation. I got to make my own one of a kind canvas. Another thing that drew me to clay was the magic of the firing process. There are many steps to this process, normally including multiple firings. It’s just amazing to me that I can make something out of clay and glaze, which in its unfired state is dull and chalky, but after it’s fired the end product is vibrant and glassy. My favorite part of the entire process is opening the kiln after the final firing to see the finished product.

Q3: What inspires you? Tell us about your creative process and approach.

Sometimes I’m drawn to the work of another artist, such as Piet Mondrian’s paintings which inspired the design I paint on my petite square studs. Other times I’m motivated by something I see in nature or even on Pinterest. Once I see something that inspires me I usually first sketch out some ideas on paper to explore how I might apply that idea to clay or metal. Then I take my sketches and get to work creating in the studio. Once I create a few dozen ideas out of clay I can more clearly see the direction I should focus on, which is often times very different from what first inspired me. At this point I find my favorites and my mind opens up to all the possibilities for shapes, sizes, colors and textures within that direction. At the end of the process, hopefully I have a collection of beautiful pieces of jewelry that I’m proud of.

Q4: What's your favorite art work (yours or another artist)?

I’m not sure I’m capable of choosing a favorite artwork from all the amazing works throughout history, so maybe I’ll have to pick the one that has moved me the most. While studying abroad in Spain during college I was able to visit the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid. The Reina Sofia houses “Guernica” by Pablo Picasso, which depicts the sufferings of war. It is an enormous painting that portrays an abstract yet highly emotional scene. It’s not something I would want to hang in my house because it exudes pain, but seeing it in person was an experience I will never forget.

Q5: Describe your dream project/collection?
Something I think about often is expanding my product line into home décor, maybe modern ceramic wall art or handmade porcelain light fixtures. If I had 100 hours to work each day I would make that dream a reality.

Q6: Where can we find and purchase your pieces?
You can find the widest selection and most current designs on my website, ashjewelrystudio.com. To see my pieces in person you can stop by the Bechtler Museum Gift Shop or Moxie Mercantile at Plaza Midwood.

Q7: If you weren't a creative, what would you be?

I honestly can’t imagine not being able to create, but if I were forced to work in a different field I would probably choose education. I think I would love being a kindergarten teacher. I just love little children. I love the way their minds work. I love the way their faces light up when they feel proud of themselves. What a rewarding job that must be! Good thing I’m a mom so I get to experience these wonderful things with my three girls.

www.ashjewelrystudio.com

Q & A with Ashlee Meadows of Ash Jewelry Studio


Get ready for the Carolina Curly Natural Expo 2017 presented by Elle Johnson Co, on Saturday, September 23rd.  Enjoy vendor shopping, beauty care specialists, panel discussions, prize giveaways, a Curly Connections Cocktail Mixer, and style presentation.

Hosted at the luxurious SpringHill Suites (Uptown Charlotte), this expo is sure to be a grand occasion celebrated by natural lovers.  Early bird tickets are available through July 31st, there after regular admission pricing will apply.

We hope to see you there!  For additional information, please visit the official website at www.carolinacurly.com.


Carolina Curly Natural Expo: September 23rd


We're looking for weddings to feature in the summer issue of Queen City Magazine. If you're a bride (or wedding professional) and would like to submit, please email a few photos to info@queencitymagazine.com for consideration.

Also, if you are a wedding industry professional, this is the issue that you will want to be a part of. Queen City Magazine will be an event partner with the upcoming Munaluchi Bridal Magazine, Mona Love Affair event. Get your ad in the hands of our readers! TAG A WEDDING PRO!


Real Weddings Feature



We're looking to highlight living spaces in the upcoming summer issue. If you'd like to submit your home please email us at living@queencitymagazine.comliving@queencitymagazine.com. All styles welcome; cottage, modern, historic, country, mid-century, etc.

Submit your home for our Living Spaces series


In honor of Man Crush Monday #MCM, we're delighting to introduce to our readers, Mr Rashon Carraway, our HOMME (men) + Living Editor here at Queen City Magazine.  Rashon comes to us with an extensive background in men's style and home design.  He has been featured in both local and national publications, and is highly sought out in the design community.



We're excited to have him kickoff the HOMME + Living sections in the summer issue of Queen City Magazine.  Please help us welcome Rashon.






HOMME + Living Editor: Mr Rashon Carraway


On Sunday, April 30th, Queen City Magazine Publisher, Elle Johnson hosted the 4th annual Royal Tea Party + Spring Brunch and it was a royal success!  A room filled with elegant spring décor and 150+ ladies decked in brunch attire to include fascinators, pearls, pumps, and poise!  Pictured here with the featured Pretty, Poised, and Pink panelists, Essense Heel (left) and Crystal Govan-McCorkle (right).  Check out the recap and pics below.

This years brunch featured a panel discussion titled Pretty, Poised, and Pink.  The topic of discussion was "As 21st century women, have we traded poise for power?"  Check out a snippet of the conversation, and stay tuned for Elle's FB Live series dedicated to this topic.




Loved the custom cookie and candy cart from Raw Sugar.  The guests enjoyed cotton candy, gum balls, and an array of custom cookie blends.








Thank you to the participating vendors and a special thank you to the event sponsors: Queen City Magazine, T-Mobile, Jane Carter Solutions, Mielle Organics, Liquid Gold Hair Products, and Ria's Beauty Collection.




A special thank you to Mr Rashon Carraway (our panel discussion moderator) and DeAngelo Crane (guest host) for lending their efforts to the special event.  Aren't they dapper?

Pictured below is Elle with a few guests; many of which traveled from as far as Columbia, SC and upwards of Raleigh, NC.






EVENT RECAP: Royal Tea Party + Spring Brunch


Washington (CNN) The Trump administration is discontinuing a signature girls education initiative championed by former first lady Michelle Obama, according to officials.
The "Let Girls Learn" program, which she and President Barack Obama started in 2015 to facilitate educational opportunities for adolescent girls in developing countries, will cease operation immediately, according to an internal document obtained by CNN.
While aspects of the initiative's programming will continue, employees have been told to stop using the "Let Girls Learn" name and were told that, as a program unto itself, "Let Girls Learn" was ending.
"Moving forward, we will not continue to use the 'Let Girls Learn' brand or maintain a stand-alone program," read an email sent to Peace Corps employees this week by the agency's acting director Sheila Crowley.

" 'Let Girls Learn' provided a platform to showcase Peace Corps' strength in community development, shining a bright light on the work of our Volunteers all over the world," Crowley wrote. "We are so proud of what 'Let Girls Learn' accomplished and we have all of you to thank for this success."

News of the program's end came the same day President Donald Trump's agriculture secretary, Sonny Perdue, was visiting an elementary school in suburban Virginia to announce changes to another initiative spotlighted by the former first lady, healthy school lunches.Perdue was set to unveil a rule change "providing regulatory flexibility for the National School Lunch Program" during a visit to Catoctin Elementary School in Leesburg. Like "Let Girls Learn," improving the nutritional quality of school meals was a major focus of Obama's during her tenure as first lady.

By the numbers: How Trump stacks up after 100 days

It wasn't immediately clear how Perdue's announcement would alter the nutritional makeup of school lunches nationwide, though health advocacy groups warned that backtracking could prove dangerous for children.

"Rather than altering the current path forward, we hope the agency focuses more on providing technical assistance that can help schools get across the finish line, if they haven't done so already," said American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown.

"Let Girls Learn" was an inter-governmental initiative run primarily at the Peace Corps and the United States Agency for International Development. A spokesman for the Peace Corps said Monday the agency would continue its efforts toward girls' education.

"The Peace Corps continues to prioritize girls' education and empowerment programming," the spokesman said. "Girls' education and empowerment has been a hallmark of our work over the past 56 years and we look forward to continuing those efforts with our interagency partners. We remain dedicated to the passionate work of our volunteers and staff to empower and educate girls in their communities."

Tina Tchen, who served as Obama's chief of staff during her time in the White House, said the end of "Let Girls Learn" was a disappointment given a global recognition that educating young women could help improve conditions across developing nations.

"We felt it was important to have a branded campaign that drew attention to those issues, and we found that when we did it, we had extraordinary support," Tchen said. "I think it's unfortunate to not continue with the branded campaign. We think that this is an issue that has bipartisan support, it's really not a Republican or Democratic issue."

Tchen said the benefits of the program, which drew upon private sector support as well as government dollars, outweighed the costs. She noted that a development program launched by President George W. Bush to combat global HIV/AIDS, PEPFAR, had been maintained and expanded by the Obama administration.

Donald Trump's next 100 days

" 'Let Girls Learn' had several years of funding already baked," she said. "We were hopeful that given that, it could continue. But obviously elections have consequences, and nobody knows that better than we."

After launching the initiative in 2015, Michelle Obama heavily promoted "Let Girls Learn," including during travel abroad and at events held in Washington. CNN Films produced a documentary highlighting some of the girls participating in "Let Girls Learn" programs in Morocco and Liberia during the then-first lady's trip there.

Obama also harnessed her popularity on social media to promote "Let Girls Learn," and enlisted celebrities like Frida Pinto and Meryl Streep to help highlight the struggle girls in many developing countries face in regularly attending school.

In October of last year, the Obama administration attempted to reinforce "Let Girls Learn" ahead of a new administration. The White House announced $5 million in private sector commitments toward the programs administered under the "Let Girls Learn" banner, bringing the total financial pledges to more than $1 billion for programs in 50 countries.

The hope then was to underscore the success of the initiative in the hopes the next administration would continue it.

The ending of the program comes as Melania Trump begins to define her own platform as first lady. While she hasn't formally announced an official platform, women's empowerment and access to education for women and girls is emerging as a key area of importance for her growing East Wing."I continue to firmly believe that education is the most powerful way to promote and ensure women's rights. Together we will do this not only by striving for gender parity at all levels of education, but also by showing all children, and especially boys, that it is through empathy, respect and kindness that we achieve our collective potential," she said in a recent speech at the State Department.On Monday, a Trump White House spokesperson referred comment to representatives for the first lady, who declined to comment.

First daughter Ivanka Trump who serves as an adviser to the President, is focused on women's empowerment and entrepreneurship, topics she's touted on panels and in speeches.She is a self-described "Entrepreneur & advocate for the education & empowerment of women & girls," according to her Twitter biography.

In promoting the importance of girls education, Obama regularly highlighted her own educational path, and said it was critical to her success in the private sector and later as first lady."Education is a very personal thing for me," she said in October during a discussion at the Newseum with a group of girls from across the globe. "As I tell girls whenever I meet them, I wouldn't be here, sitting here not just in this chair but in the life that I have, if it weren't for my education."

Tchen said Monday that the former first lady was still assessing how to promote this issue in her new life as a private citizen.

"This is an issue she cares passionately about," Tchen said. "I think it's still early days for what she will do in her post-White House life. But this is one she's looking at figuring out where can she be value added, where can she help with this issue."


    Trump ends Michelle Obama's Let Girls Learn initiative


    If you're hosting a Mother's Day themed event (or special sale), email us details for inclusion in our Mother's Day Guide! info@queencitymagazine.com

    OPEN CALL: Mother's Day Guide


    Join LaVonndra "Elle" Johnson and friends for the 4th annual Royal Tea Party + Spring Brunch hosted at the luxurious Hampton Inn & Suites SouthPark at Phillips Place on Sunday, April 30th beginning at 1pm. Enjoy fabulous dressed women, breath-taking scenery, and gracious gifts. 

    DRESS CODE: BRUNCH/TEA PARTY ATTIRE REQUIRED (hats are optional)

    Sunday, April 30th 2017 at 1pm for the Royal Tea Party + Spring Brunch

    It's that time again!  Join me and my stylish gal pal friends for the 4th annual Royal Tea Party + Spring Brunch hosted at the luxurious Hampton Inn and Suites on Sunday, April 30th beginning at 1pm. I'm so elated to host my annual brunch once more and I encourage you to attend.  The event will feature fabulous dressed women, breath-taking scenery, and gracious gifts. 

    This year's brunch will also include a panel of esteemed ladies titled, Pretty, Poised, and Pink.  Each of these ladies exemplify southern culture, style and grace, and will share and discuss the lost art form of poise, proper social demeanor, sophistication, and character building.  You do not want to miss this power packed event!

    Pretty, Poised, and Pink Panelists

    Essense Heel Essense Heel is a fashion and style influencer from Raleigh, NC. She received her training as a wardrobe stylist from celebrity stylist Shun Melson by successfully completing Fashun 101 in 2014. In addition to styling, Essense is a closet coach, blogger, socialite and brand ambassador. Essense is on "the list" and recieves the most exclusive invites to all the fashion social scenes in NC, which lead her to be co-founder of The Where to be Society. You can find her sitting on the front row of a local fashion show, DRESSED how she wants to be ADDRESSED.  www.essenseheel.com

    Crystal Govan-McCorkle - Born and raised in a small town as a southern girl in Harrisburg NC, I've always had a niche for noticing details and have a great passion for making things "sizzle." Because of my unique ability to manage details succinctly while adding my own "pop of contrast," I knew early on I had a great passion for planning and organization.  In 2012, I realized it was time to make my dream a reality and thus began a career in event planning. www.fabcreatedevents.com


    TICKET OPTIONS

    Royal Tea Party + Spring Brunch - SOLD OUT

    Networking Access Ticket - SOLD OUT

    Royal Tea Party + Spring Brunch

    INSTAGRAM: @QUEENCITYMAG

    © Queen City Magazine - Charlotte, NC. An Elle Johnson Co.