Who are you?
I’m Ashley Maul of Sew Ashtastic! If we want to get a little philosophical, however, I wear many hats… Mother, wife, seamstress, and Captain America groupie! I’m an incurable optimist that just wants to connect with people over our shared enthusiasm for comics and other pop-culture staples.
What is your origin story?
Many moons ago, my mother in law taught me how to sew so I could hem my pants. Once she taught me the basics, that’s pretty much all I did for years: hem pants. It wasn’t very exciting, but I was a full-time manager for Waldenbooks/Borders, and had little time to stretch my sewing muscles. But with the great bankruptcy of my beloved bookstore chain, I suddenly had much more time on my hands. Up until that point I had always despaired at the lack of comic book merchandise aimed at women (Loungefly wasn’t really a ‘thing’ yet) and decided – what if I just make it myself? I made myself a simple purse and shared it on Facebook to overwhelming support to continue on this path – thus Sew Ashtastic was born! I found I was not the only one who longed to fly my fandom colors in unique and fun ways!
You have such an incredible style that is uniquely your own. What advice do you wish you received when you were just starting out?
I was very fortunate to have many supportive people in my corner when I started out, but was very insecure about some of my earlier creations and what would be the ‘correct’ look for my business. It even took me ages to feel like I could even call myself a seamstress. As you’ve stated, I have a pretty unique style and a flair for color that just doesn’t always appeal to everyone. I don’t do subtle, haha! Early on, I likely would have benefitted had someone told me that it was entirely okay to embrace that uniqueness… That there was no such ‘correct’ look other than just having fun with what I do and being sure my customers were happy. It’s impossible to appeal to absolutely everyone, and that is more than fine, because my customers were always 100% happy which meant I was doing it right.
You have incredible works of art but what would you say is your own personal favorite piece and why?
Oooh! It’s almost like choosing your favorite child, but I confess I immediately thought of my Captain America cosplay… Up until that point, it’d been the most complicated outfit I’d ever tackled – a bustle, a jaunty hood, and (most intimidating as I’d never made one before) a steel-boned corset! I had the pattern for ages and was just so intimidated by it. But I finally decided I had nothing to lose, so I gave it a shot. Honestly, it came together in a breeze and took only two days. It was like an affirmation that I really was a seamstress and it wasn’t until making that cosplay that I started calling myself one.
A lot of geeks suffer from self-esteem issues. Although you are so awe-inspiring to the masses, I wonder, when you find yourself questioning your own worth what do you do to remind yourself that you are wonderful?
I always remind myself that good/bad are for the most part relative concepts that are always evolving. We’re all human, right? We all have different styles, tastes, etc., and if mine differed from someone else’s, then that didn’t mean I was ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’ so much as it just meant I had a different point of view. And different points of view are wonderful! They help us see a larger picture we otherwise might have missed and we can learn from our differences – they’re nothing to fear. We all have those days where we think we’re worthless, but as Samwise once said, “Even darkness must pass.” And pass it shall, with you shining all the brighter for having fought through it.
Where can folks find your art online?
You can find me and a lot of my art work on www.sewashtastic.com!