INTERVIEW- Nicola Ashe

I spent days trying to find a way to introduce this woman to you. I found she needed an entrance. For the life of me, nothing seemed to fit well enough. I know most of you know her. She was the first person to ever communicate with me via blogging. She always held such truth. She made me cry with laughter many times, I’m sure my office thought I was barking mad. Her personality lit up any situation and her fetish for white decor and stationary got my attention. Open and honest, real and informative fits this wonder women quite nicely. Stylish and unique, hardcore and sweet are sure oxymoron’s for her. If you are part of any South African social, entertainment or retail industry or simply a night owl in and around Durban you have crossed paths with her no doubt.  Known by her knowledge of what’s hot and what’s not in Durban and surrounds, you can be sure to receive genuine updates on monthly hot spots, trendy stores, market notices and restaurant reviews. She brightens your day with on-line magazines and includes you in her fetish finds. You can also count your lucky stars that she is who she is because without her I doubt Durban would have such a kick-butt market attendance. Lets face it – you heard first on Ask Ashe!

I wanted to get to know the women behind the blog, the creative she is and the love she has for our city. Nicola is such an open and welcoming person in this blogging world. The blogging sphere can get quite intimidating at times and I have always admired her for her matter of frankness. I know she appreciates good grammar & spelling and even when mine needed some attention, she still liked my posts and shared the love.  I have learnt to be open to correction.

Behind every good blog is a wise, warm and unique character. Be it with a brutal sense of humour or a cool zest for life. CS has interviewed Nicola asking her about the bits and bobs of life, her passions and Durban.

Tell us about when you were younger-where did you go to school? What was your fave subject? Did you always have a creative side?
I went to an all girls school in Durban. My memories of school are not fond though, I don’t yearn for them at all 😉 – they were a pretty long time ago too!
I loved history (still do) and I took art which I suppose is where my creative side first blossomed, but I was pretty crap at the traditional painting and drawing. I studied interior design after school at Natal Tech and then a few year’s after that studied web design. I’ve never worked as an interior designer, it’s become more of a hobby, but I worked in web design for a few years and this is where I learned how to ‘design’ and edit graphics for the web.

Is there a time where you realized Graphic design was your career or did it just happen that way? How did this career path start?
I soon realised that I was far better at organising (read bossing) than I was at designing and I moved into project management and client services. I’ve worked at some of Durban’s top design and production companies and now work at an ad agency in client services.
I love graphic design and am in awe of the amazing things graphic designers can produce, be it by hand or computer and I go weak at the knees for beautiful or clever typography. But I leave the design to the professionals and love my career to bits.

What’s the best thing about what you do(work)? What’s the best thing about blogging?
No two days are the same in my job. One day I’m taking a brief on a new packaging range, the next I’m sourcing 1500 biscuits for a tea party! The people I work with are extremely creative and inspiring and the company I work for is just awesome – sometimes it doesn’t even feel like work… I love it.
Blogging however, is a complete outlet for the mess in my head. My blog is called Ask Ashe because I’ve always been asked questions about everything – “where do I get this?, what’s the best restaurant for that?, when is this on?, how do I do this”, so I was nicknamed ‘askashe’. The blog is now an extension of those recommendations and referrals, mixed in with a bit of tongue-in-cheek and of course my love of interiors (especially white ones!)

What would you NEVER leave the house without?
I’m pretty easy going, I can fly out of the house with no make up or cellphone, but it’s best that I don’t 😉 – at least a lash of mascara so I don’t scare the children!

Who would you want to have coffee with?  And why?
My future husband, I want to know what took him so long 😉
That might take a while though, so I’d choose Richard Branson, half an hour with him would be so inspiring.

Can you give 3 words-of-advice to anyone interested in graphic design, advertising or blogging?
Don’t compromise integrity.

What has been your most memorable moment in your life so far? (Or is that an unfair question?) 🙂
Not getting married at 25, best decision I ever made. I can only say this with hindsight though.


Would you ever want to write a book? And if so what about?

One day I will write my memoirs, but then I’d have to burn them… I’d get far too many people into trouble 😉

I love that you are who you are and say what you say, what key points can you give someone who is wanting to pursue a dream, yet does not have the courage?
I came about attaining my dreams the hard way, learning many a lesson along the way. And I haven’t yet got them all. I believe networking is the key to opening myriad opportunities. It’s amazing what you can find out just by talking to someone or reading about something and then tying those 2 entities together. So get out there, or get online and start networking with people you admire or can relate to, you’ll be amazed at how similar most of us are and how willing people are to help you out or give advice. However, don’t believe everything you’re told and never be afraid to have your own opinion on anything. There’s nothing more spineless and uninspiring that someone who agrees with everything you say!

As you recently bought your own place, have you found the decorating and renovating easy? The decorating part will be the fun, easy part once the renovating is done. It’s the renovation part that’s proving to be a ball ache! Unreliable suppliers who work at their own pace, having to get plans passed, boring body corporate’s, silly rules and having to wait for walls to be knocked down before I can do anything else means I’m completely uninspired and brain addled with ideas at the same time. It’s quite frustrating having to wait – the longer you wait, the more times you change your mind! I’ll be documenting the renovations on my blog, so as soon as my plans are approved you can expect many a post and picture.

Click on Ask Ashe Abode logo to follow her Reno progress, if you don’t already follow her blog.

What would a weekend in Durban be like if you could take someone on a tour of our finest places and events? It would have to be a long weekend jam-packed with food, crafts and sights including breakfast at Corner Cafe, a whirl around the I Heart Market, shopping at iKhaya, The Space, Karrin Hatfield, lunch at Craft, a dinner at Livingston’s, cocktails at Billy’s, a quick steak at Butcher Boys, sushi & tapas nibbles at Czar, more shopping at Fat Tuesday and then walk or ride it all off along Durban’s promenade at sunset with a mango daiquiri on Moyo Pier.

Regarding being creative, What’s your outlet?
I’m around creatives and creativity all day, so when I get home and need to unwind, it’s usually with a game of sudoku, a book or lately I play myself at Scrabble! It’s addictive! (there’s an iPad app where you can play yourself so I don’t set up a board and look like a complete retard 😉 )
I’ve also been known to watch a marathon of tv series’ in one sitting – no one saw me for days when I discovered Spartacus, Game of Thrones and Sons of Anarchy!
If I’m feeling creative, I blog or read through over 900 blogs I follow via bloglovin (amazing site – highly recommended)

Name your top 5 creative’s? Alberto Vargas, Rob Ryan, anyone who designs for Ikea, anyone who designs for Fred & friends, Yoshitomo Nara

What would be in your handbag right now? Ipad, blackberry (oh the irony), keys, notebooks, wet wipes (can’t live without these critters!), pens and pencils, makeup bag, numerous hair elastics, business cards, wallet filled with every loyalty card imaginable, gum.

What’s the best thing about your home? It’s all mine 🙂

What would be your dream holiday destination? Anywhere cool where cozzies are not required. Hate the sun, don’t do sand or sea and should have been born in Iceland. A skiing trip with mates would be awesome.

What’s the most mouth-watering dish you have ever tasted and where was it?
I eat out a LOT and have had many amazing meals, but there are only 2 I always fall back on when I think about my favourites. The first is the lentil & feta and calamari combo from Mo’s Noodles and the 2nd is a rib eye steak from either Livingston’s or Butcher Boys served with creamed spinach.

What is the coolest home interior item to get right now?
Everyone is on the green, eco wagon, so sustainable energy, appliances and materials are all the rage. My one contribution to this movement will be installing a gas hob – cannot wait to get that baby fired up!

Who cracks the nod as the most desired artist/art work in Durban at the moment?
Difficult question! I think anyone creative is an artist, so it doesn’t have to be an artist in the true sense of the word. I know Durban has a wealth of creative talent and the desired items I most covet are from small businesses like Cupcake Couture, iKhaya and I Love Bokkie, or KOOP, the Shaw Sisters and Clinton Friedman.

What’s the most valuable lesson learnt while being overseas?
I had my first ‘corporate’ job overseas. I worked for a team of traders at a large multi-national company. Make yourself indispensable to people like this and you’re set! I was nicknamed ‘komodo’ because I kept them all on their toes at the grand old age of 21 😉


Personality…..makes a home, a home
Relaxation and me time …..are what weekends are about
My favorite book at the moment is…… any new James Patterson, haven’t read one in a few months though (*makes mental note…)
Blogging is……an escape into the mind of my alter ego.
My next purchase for my home is…..bathroom sanitary ware and kitchen appliances
If I was a super hero, I would….make all lemon meringue pies fat free
The close proximity to everything…..Is the best thing about living in Durban

You just got to love her! Follow Nicola on Twitter here or her blog here

Photo credits: Nicola Ashe, SafariNow, RoomsForAfrica, The Space, Fat Tuesday, Travel Start, Karrin Hatfield, Elle Decor.

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