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    Ashley Stark Kenner

    Ashley Stark Kenner

    Ashley Stark Kenner is the Creative Director of STARK, the force behind the influential @ashleytstark Instagram account which has more than 1.3 million followers, and the stylish namesake behind Ashley Stark Home. At an early age, she fell in love with the legendary carpet and textile company founded by her grandparents, which led to a life that immersed her in design, honed her eye, sharpened her sense of quality, and drove her desire to learn every aspect of the business from the bottom up. She has worked directly with artisans in Nepal as they sit on long looms hand-knotting rugs, adjusted color combinations in person at factories in India, and checked for quality as rugs dry on rooftops in the Nepalese sunshine. She understands every step that goes into making an heirloom rug — one with both the looks and quality to last for generations.

    1. You took over the Stark Carpet business from your family and continued to grow the business with Ashley Stark Home. Could you tell us how you began designing interiors? We would love to know how these two businesses grew together.

    In 2022, Chad, CEO of STARK (and my cousin) and I co-founded Ashley Stark Home, a new destination for rugs, wallcoverings, tabletop, lighting, decor, and design collaborations. I had been approached by various people and brands to do different lines and finally, we decided we would do it ourselves. Ashley Stark Home is an extension of me and everything I like. There’s something really special about taking my inspiration and making it a tangible item people can have in their homes.

    2. How was it growing up in a family that was so vested in the textile business? Were you in it from very early on?

    I grew up knowing I always wanted to be a part of STARK. My grandmother would take me to the STARK showrooms as a child to teach me about the different types of rugs and carpets and really nurtured my interest in the business. I started interning at STARK in college and have learned every aspect of the business from the bottom up.

    3. Has there been a defining moment in your career? Could you tell us about it?

    Choosing to come back after having kids, realizing how much I love working and what I do.

    4. What is your favorite type of project?

    Remodeling, doing gut renovations especially for my own home.

    5. What do you think is the deciding factor in a successful interior design project?

    Having cohesive designs that are timeless and work well together.

    6. What is the most challenging aspect of your work?

    Juggling my three kids and maintaining a healthy work vs. life balance.

    7. How would you describe your creative process and its infuences ? How do you get inspired?

    As creative director, I’m involved with every aspect of the business. From designing and buying, to materials and production, to ensuring the business is growing with the ever- evolving industry, I’m involved with it all.

    I’m inspired by fashion and travel. I love attending Paris Fashion Week and trade shows in the world’s design capitals like Basel, Milan, and Mexico. I love spotting future trends and reinterpreting them in exciting ways.

    My great aunt Iris Apfel is also a huge source of inspiration for me. From a young age, she taught me the importance of beautiful textiles and materials, and I still look to her for inspiration. She is fearless in her fashion choices and never listens to the naysayers, which is something I admire about her.

    I’m also inspired by other creatives and designers I discover on social media. I do all of the designing for STARK and my Instagram account began as a Pinterest board to capture the posts that had inspired me. It still serves the same purpose for me, however, I find it really amazing that I’m able to inspire other people through design and fashion. I get a lot of DM’s from people saying “Came for the interiors, stayed for the fashion.”

    8. What would be the ideal place to design for you?

    A modern beach house on the water.

    9. What was one of the hardest-learned lessons in your job?

    When I first joined the company, STARK had been run only by men, primarily my father and uncle, for many years. Early on, I had to convince my father to add softer colors like gray and lavender to the roster. This received a lot of pushback at the time but today, gray is one of our best-selling hues. This taught me to always trust my instincts.

    10. What advice would you give to beginner designers?

    To stay true to yourself and your own design aesthetic, also know the ins and outs of scale – that could be a huge make or breaking point.

    11. If you had to summarize your creations in one word or sentence, what would it be?

    Rebel traditionalist.

    12. Is there a design object you would not like to live without? If so, what is it?

    For me, good design always starts with a great rug. It’s the perfect way to create a beautiful backdrop or focal point in any space.

    13. Do you have any books/programs/podcasts to recommend to our readers?

    Some of my favorite podcasts are Domino’s Design Time, The Business of Home Podcast, and How I Built This. I love learning from other creatives, designers and founders.

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