Designer Ashley Green is bringing Austin artisans together and embodying her mother’s spirit through her marketplace, Frankie Jean.
By Kat Barclay, Photos by Katie Jameson
Inside Ashley Green’s new office is a shelf she built herself. It’s not one of those put-it-together shelves sold from a Scandinavian retailer, but an actual made-from-scratch shelf. She had never built a shelf before and didn’t exactly have all the right tools, but she tried it anyway, just like her mom taught her.
“I definitely learned the mentality of ‘If I can put my mind to something, I can make it’ from her,” Green says of her mother.
Green is a clothing designer by trade, as well as the owner of Frankie Jean, an online marketplace that sells apparel, accessories, paper goods and home-décor items. The name Frankie Jean comes from Green’s late mother, who she credits for her eye for design and sense of creativity. In January, the shop celebrated the opening of its first brick-and-mortar store at Austin’s newest creative co-working space, The Refinery.
“My mom was the epitome of what Frankie Jean is,” Green says. “She was always trying the latest thing in creative design and trying to get all her friends on board with her.”
Frankie Jean’s mission is to support and shed light on the work of design entrepreneurs in Austin. The business sells both Green’s clothing designs and other items made by local artisans, items such as handcrafted leather goods from Weather and Story, candles, ceramic mugs, serving boards and linen napkins from Feast and Dwell, and paper goods from Wknd Press. The new space at The Refinery has allowed Green to mix in items from new artists and new products that differ from what’s sold through her online marketplace.
“It’s very much a supportive atmosphere more so than a competitive one in Austin,” Green says of the artisan scene. “It sounds cheesy but it’s like the do-unto-others idea. I just think it’s better when we do things together.”
Green, who hails from Buda, Texas, first dabbled in sewing her sophomore year of high school while taking a home-economics class. Two years later, she made her own dress for senior prom.
“That was kind of like the first time I dipped my toes into clothing design,” Green says.
She took those skills to Baylor University, a place that was special to her mom and where Green earned a degree in fashion design with a minor in business. While still in school, Green unknowingly stumbled into her first design business after a friend asked her to sew a dress. By word-of-mouth, Green’s handcrafted dresses grew in popularity, prompting her to open a boutique after graduation in Buda, where she sold dresses and many other local artisan items.
“It was kind of like a real-life Etsy shop,” Green says of her first business.
Not long after opening the store, Green began to dream bigger, so she decided to make the move to Austin, working two part-time jobs while launching her new business, Frankie Jean.
“[Making the dresses] was something that just happened. I wasn’t really passionate about it,” Green says. “I found myself not really wanting to tell people what it was that I made.”
While the concept of Frankie Jean is similar to her first business, this time around, Green wants to make sure Frankie Jean is seen as a lifestyle brand. Rather than taking on any artist with a craft, she wants to make sure everything she sells has a similar aesthetic.
“I really wanted to curate things in a way that when someone walks into the shop, they like it all,” Green says. “I reached out to all the people I knew who had a craft and shared my vision with them.”
Although she’s picky about the items she curates at Frankie Jean, Green is always interested in collaborating with other artists in order to create items that blend with the Frankie Jean brand and style. With the debut of her new space at The Refinery, she’s looking forward to expanding her reach and presence in Austin and developing partnerships with new artists. “It’s a really great opportunity [being at The Refinery],” Green says. “It’s an opportunity to grow the business, as well as learn from all these other creative people.”