Ashley Zarlin Tells All
Life Since The Real Housewives and Her Exciting New Brand, Cheeky Minx
Written By: Clara Lemon
Photography By: Nancy Villere of Crush Photo Studios
One of Locale’s previous cover models, Ashley Zarlin, has come a long way since her days on “The Real Housewives of Orange County.” The TV alum has been busy starting her new brand and t-shirt line Cheeky Minx, which she launched earlier this year, and she gives us a peek into her goals for the future of the brand. She also reflects back to her time on the show and what it was like starting a career under the spotlight, while offering some great tips on fashion, entrepreneurship, and staying positive in the face of life’s hurdles.
Q: We’d love to know what you’ve been up to since you were last featured as one of our cover models!
Ashley Zarlin: I have been working and traveling a lot! This last year or so, I have taken some time to work on personal development. I decided that it was time to create an action plan towards my career that was based on self-awareness, values, reflection, goal setting and planning. It’s essential to find out why you think, say and do certain things … and then better yourself. It has been a humbling process and through all of this Cheeky Minx was born!
Q: Cheeky Minx has some cheeky tees! What inspired you to do the line and when did you first think of it?
AZ: For anyone that knows me, I think that it is pretty safe to say that what stands out most about me is my quick wit and sense of humor. That is one of the more positive sides of social media. It has opened up a place for people like me to laugh about things that most people wouldn’t say out loud. I wanted to create a fun lighthearted brand and a platform for laughter! So far, I have accomplished exactly that! The opportunity came to me in January, so it has all happened so fast. The timing just seemed so perfect and I decided to go all in.
Q: Where did the name Cheeky Minx come from?
AZ: Cheeky stands for being sassy and bold but in a playful and amusing way and Minx is a mischievous and flirtatious girl, or young woman. Put them together and you have a Cheeky Minx!
Q: When you were on the RHOC you started a skincare line, A to Z Skincare. What did you learn the most from the experience of starting a business while you were on the show?
AZ: Looking back on when I started A to Z Skincare, it seems like another lifetime ago! You would think that it would have been a positive experience for me. But being 21, nobody seemed to really take me seriously. RHOC definitely could have done a better job at supporting my efforts. The show was the first of its kind, and it was right around when online blogging started to get popular. I took to heart a lot of the negative remarks on the internet because I was so impressionable. In the end, I got discouraged and gave up hope. I was a young woman with an entrepreneurial mindset. And I think that should have been celebrated. If I learned anything from starting a business back then it’s that we need to do a better job at supporting the ideas of everyone, regardless of what we may think of them. I stand firm in the belief that if we want our country to prosper, we have to take the time to invest in our youth. I am now extremely passionate about people, positive thinking, and giving our future generations the ability to want to achieve more in life. I would like to be able to give young adults a positive example of what trial and error combined with never giving up looks like. We need more role models so that kids can try to replicate our success.
Q: Is it easier to run a business now that you aren’t in the spotlight?
AZ: I wouldn’t say that it is necessarily easier, it’s just different. I have been able to build my name into something fun and positive on social media. I enjoy being able to communicate with fans and sharing this experience with everyone.
Q: What is your favorite/least favorite thing about running a business?
AZ: My favorite part about running a business would have to be being able to have creative control of things. I haven’t had any negative experiences thus far! But ask me that question again next year!
Q: Do you miss being on the show and would you ever do television again?
AZ: I definitely do not miss being on “The Real Housewives of Orange County.” It became such a negative experience in the end. At the beginning, it was all about family and fun. Now it is all about grown women degrading each other and talking behind their friend’s backs. Women should empower each other instead of being so hateful and envious of one another. There is more to life than Louboutins and throwing Martinis in people’s faces. It’s not something that I care to be a part of. I have come a very long way since my days on that show.
As far as being on another television show! Never say never, right? I have been approached many times since but none of the offers have felt right. It would have to be the proper fit! I think that it would be fun if I were able to encourage positivity through the media!
Q: Do you design the t-shirts yourself? If so, where do you get your inspiration?
AZ: I do! I get the inspiration from social media, my sarcastic mouth or inside jokes with friends.
Q: Do you wear the pieces from your line often? Do you have a favorite?
AZ: I definitely love wearing graphic tees from Cheeky Minx. They are very soft and have a great casual fit. I have dressed them up, and I have worn to them to the gym! I can’t say that I have a favorite. They are all my babies, and I am a proud mama.
Q: Where do you get your personal style inspiration?
AZ: Finding your unique sense of style allows you to show the world who you are. My inspiration comes from myself. I think fashion is all about knowing yourself and your body type, knowing what looks and fits best on you. I don’t think it’s about simply following the new trend or a celebrity. Fashion inspiration comes from everywhere. Make sure to always put your own twist on it and most of all HAVE FUN.
Q: Like many Californians, I tend to wear laid-back, casual clothing. Do you have any tips for making casual styles look more pulled together?
AZ: My style is simple but sophisticated. I love to get dressed up, but if it isn’t easy, I won’t wear it. I gravitate toward classics with a twist, and I always manage to add an edginess factor.
Tips to making laid back looks feel more together can be as simple as a statement accessory, bold lip or pop of color. Adding a pop of color or one nice investment pair of heels can take a day look to a pulled together night on the town in an instant. Investing in classic pieces; skinny jeans, boots and nice outerwear is key. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
Q: What can we expect from Cheeky Minx in the future? Will you add more products to the line?
AZ: Expect Cheeky Minx to become an all-encompassing brand sold in major boutiques and department stores! We are currently working on accessories, coffee mugs and travel bags! I would also love to add a makeup line to Cheeky Minx. There is no end to the possibilities.
Q: What are your hopes for the future of your career? Will you continue designing or do you have any other interests you want to pursue?
AZ: I am very dedicated to Cheeky Minx. I would like to grow this company into a Lifestyle Brand. I hope to better both my career and my company via my commitment and enthusiasm. My career goals are constantly changing and growing as I do. I am eager to experience new challenges, and I find that owning my own business is extremely interesting and motivating. I believe that future success comes with everyday excellence and consistency.
Q: Do you have any advice for young entrepreneurs?
AZ: The best advice that I have is; don’t be afraid to fail and remember that it’s okay to not be perfect because mistakes mean that you are trying. I now realize that every time I thought that I was being rejected from something good, I was actually being re-directed to something better. The biggest hurdle is rejection. Any business you start be ready for it. The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is that the successful do all the things the unsuccessful people don’t want to do. When ten doors are slammed in your face, go to door 11 enthusiastically, and with a smile on your face. It only takes one person to change your life: YOU. Keep moving forward!