ASHLEY MOLESSO & CHESSIE NEEDHAM
What does it mean to you to be a nasty woman? Chess: To be strong and independent.
Coffee or tea? Ash: coffee forever
Go to beauty products? Ash: I actually just discovered that vaseline is like the only thing that I can put on my face to make it super soft and moisturized. is this gross???
What’s one thing that’s always in your bag? Ash: Burt's Bees pomegranate chapstick.
Favorite indulgence? Chess: Cheez-its.
What message/ word would you wear on your RP custom jewelry? Why? Ash: maybe GayAF or ExtraGay because I love wearing things that make it clear that I am not straight. :)
How did you get started with Ash + Chess?
Chess: Ash made me do it. Now I'm super happy we did. Ash: I wanted to do my own thing and I made Chess help me start our company LOL
Did you always want to have your own business? Biggest fear when starting out? Has that fear shifted now that you're established?
Ash: I've always been creative and businessy (and by businessy, i mean i used to create all these dumb businesses with my brothers when we were younger- one time we tried to start a hat business where we made all kinds of poorly-made fancy hats out of construction paper and tried to sell them to our classmates, one time we made watercolor bookmarks and sold them to our neighbors to raise money to buy our younger brother a birthday gift, one time i got CALLED TO THE PRINCIPAL'S OFFICE because parents were upset that their kids were spending their lunch money on duct tape flip flops & wallets crafted by yours truly).
My biggest fear when starting out was I guess, just, money. We completely paid for everything out of pocket when we first started the business, and on top of that, we hadn't been saving extra for it. We just decided to start it all of the sudden with no backup funds. I guess we were hoping that the money wouldn't end up going to waste if we weren't successful.
No more fear here- magically we've been doing amazing! Funny enough, our first trade show in May 2017 left us with so many orders that we didn't even have enough money to pay for production up front! (Which is a really good thing LOL)
How does New York influence your work?
Ash: I always feel extra creative here because everyone and every place surrounding me is just like over the top teeming with inspiration. what people are wearing, how boutiques and storefronts are doing their window displays, how that old mysterious building on the corner would be really fun to draw. I think that diversity of new york is just so much that how can you not be inspired?
Favorite place to draw inspiration from? Chess: Old items from the 60s/70s are always a huge inspiration. They had awesome patterns, typefaces, graphics, and colors.
Clean and organized or messy and chaotic? Ash: ideal: organized. reality: messy and chaotic.
What was the "coming out" process like for you?
Chess: Really scary. For me, I came out pretty late because I struggled with a lot of internalized hatred/homophobia when I was younger. I was such a tomboy that people either accused me of wanting to be a boy or being gay, and either way they seemed disappointed. So I just covered it up for so long. Then, when I came out, I felt like I was too late. I felt like I'd been lying to everyone before. It was hard to decide if I should just pretend to be "normal" and be miserable for the rest of my life, or hope that I hadn't missed my chance and come out later in life.
Favorite thing about Pride month? Ash: pride month is the best month because it's our time to shine and our time to help normalize the presence of the LGBTQ+ community.
Pride plans? Will you go to the parade? Chess: The parade is inconveniently on my mom's birthday, so we think we might just go to a gay bar after the parade. 🌈
If you could do anything else for a day, what would it be?
Ash: I've always wanted to be a barista at a coffee shop. Sometimes, I think about just getting a random part-time job just cause I have the freedom to now. Owning a business opens lots of doors, even weird ones like possibly fulfilling your dreams of making strangers coffee. Or maybe I could be a bartender? Or a person who reads books and looks for typos? I'm great at finding typos. Chess: If I could do anything else, I'd become some super awesome biologist that just lives in the jungle and spends a ton of time behind a rock waiting for some exotic animal to come by so I can observe it doing something mundane.
What are you currently binging? Ash: Queer Eye season 2, The Carrie Diaries, The Voice Season 14 (don't tell me who wins cause I haven't finished it yet!!!
General advice for anyone reading this? Ash: Follow your dreams and don't let people tell you that you can't do it. if you believe in yourself and you work hard, almost anything is possible. (so cheesy I know!)