Where Are They Now? - Q&A's With Notable Jenks Grads
A down economy and a difficult job market closed one career door for Ashley Gilroy, but a timely trip to India and a chance discovery quickly turned inspiration into opportunity. Today, the 2005 Jenks grad is the owner, founder, and designer at J/Hadley Jewelry in New York City. Gilroy’s bold creations incorporate some of the rarest gemstones on earth, and in addition to being featured in several leading fashion magazines, her jewelry has made many appearances on the red carpet with celebs like Jennifer Lawrence, Jessica Alba, and many more wearing her designs. Read more about Ashley’s journey in this week’s “Where Are They Now? Wednesday” profile and check out her jewelry at www.jhadleyjewelry.com.
What are your fondest memories of attending Jenks Public Schools?
Gilroy: The friendships I made and the impactful teachers.
Who were the teachers, coaches, or principals who made the biggest impact on your life?
Gilroy: Coach Fox brought a new way of learning to my attention in AP US History. The most impactful teacher of all was Mrs. Hall – my yearbook advisor and English teacher. Her patience, her care, and her insistence on quality work have stayed with my throughout my life.
How do you think your time at Jenks challenged you and prepared you to be successful in the business world?
Gilroy: I laugh because I worked harder at Jenks than I did in college – but it’s because I pushed myself to take a heavy AP load. What you do in high school matters – it determines where you go to college, which in my opinion, is a major factor in determining the rest of your life. Who you meet in college is an important non-academic ingredient of college life. Study hard in high school so you can surround yourself with the people you want your life to emanate. I worked hard in high school – and my Jenks teachers’ gave me the opportunities to do well on my AP tests. Enough to get the scholarships I needed to attend an expensive school for almost nothing. So now I apply that hard work ethic to my business. Not many people can learn and keep good habits. If you can, you will succeed in life.
What were some of the most memorable events or moments you covered as a fashion journalist?
Gilroy: I actually did investigative journalism research at Glamour magazine. I loved working on important stories and then arguing my case with my editor to present to the Editor in Chief, Cindi Lieve. I worked in the fashion closet for two summers and loved every bit of it. I loved the photo shoots and running around town to collect the clothes. By the end of the summer I was a regular at them and got to have myself featured in Glamour Mag!
Why did you decide to make the transition from writing about to fashion to becoming a jewelry designer?
Gilroy: In 2008, when the markets crashed, I couldn’t get a full-time job at a magazine because magazines were downsizing. They didn’t know how to make the transfer to digital. So --- I traveled. You can see the story on my website: https://jhadleyjewelry.com/pages/meet-ashley
What was the most important step you took or decision you made that led to the success of J/Hadley?
Gilroy: WORK WORK WORK! I went to India 20 times in the first 3 years of my business, and traveled 6 months out of the year for trunk shows. Don’t stop until you get the yes you need. Be scrappy, be genuine, be honest.
A collection of rings from J/Hadley Jewelry. See more at www.jhadleyjewelry.com
How were you able to get celebrities such as Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara to wear your jewelry on the red carpet?
Gilroy: Some of the best press has happened because of word of mouth. I made relationships with stylists due to my days at Glamour and WWD. Then I found a great press team (Margo Siegel PR) to push the word out.
What are some of the best reviews/compliments you’ve received about your designs?
Gilroy: Nothing makes me happier to see a client wearing her jewels out, and then to rave about them to her friends.
There is no shortage of jewelry designs, designers, and shops which specialize in custom jewelry. What separates J/Hadley from the competition and how have you been able to adapt to changing trends in the marketplace?
Gilroy: What separates J/Hadley is our client network. I value my clients and make them feel special. I give them unparalleled customer service; that’s what keeps them coming back.
See more of Ashley Gilroy's original designs at www.jhadleyjewelry.com
What do you love about New York City and what do you miss about Oklahoma?
Gilroy: I love the energy of New York City. You wake up and just feel motivated to do something with your day.And people here are friendly! That’s a total misconception. I miss the relaxed, congenial spirit you find in Oklahoma. I miss the bonfires on Grand Lake.
What is next for you both personally and professionally?
Gilroy: Personally, I’m looking to spend less time on the things that don’t matter and more on the things that do – family and activities that make me a happier person. Professionally I am looking to increase my bandwidth, improve my business acumen and think bigger picture.