Ashley Burghardt is the UK Styling Manager at Stitch Fix the personal style service for men and women in the US and UK. After an online style consultation, Stitch Fix use a stylist to hand pick you a curated wardrobe edit taken from many stylish brands including Boss, Whistles, and Rag &Bone. This is then delivered to you at home where you can try everything on and pay for what you keep. Ashley talks to 35Thousand about how she’s juggled her team with her job throughout lockdown.
Tell us about your work
“I’m the UK Styling Manager at Stitch Fix, based in London. I lead an amazing team of people leaders and stylists (145 in total), whose main focus is making our customers look and feel their best and making sure our teams feel the same. I sit on the local UK leadership team, working alongside a group of highly motivated and talented leaders who support various functions of the business. I’ve been with Stitch Fix for over 6 years now, in both the US and the UK, and hands down, the company culture and unique individuals I’ve had the opportunity to work with have made my experience.”
Where do you physically work currently?
“Given this new world we’re operating in, I’m working remotely from my home in West London. Prior, I was based in Holborn.”
What is the best thing about your work?
“There is a lot of responsibility in leading teams: individuals growth, development, and employee experiences rely heavily on you as a manager. It isn’t always easy, but it’s incredibly rewarding. Being a part of someone’s journey and helping them achieve their goals is one of the best things about my job.”
What has been the most pivotal point of your career so far?
“Making the decision to uproot my family and move us from Texas to London to launch Stitch Fix in a new country. At the time my daughter was 2 and my son was 5. It was no small feat! But the last 2+ years have included the greatest learnings and growth I’ve experienced in my career to date.”
What’s your context outside of work
“I live with my two children and husband in West London. Our son is 7 and daughter is 4. They definitely keep us on our toes. I love working out and I really enjoy cooking…which I don’t get to do to the level I like often enough. A good yoga session energizes me like nothing else. In my life before Stitch Fix, I was in fashion design and I have a creative/artistic side I like to fulfill in my free time. That side can come out in many different ways, from colouring in a colouring book with my little ones, to decorating my husband’s restaurant that he opened this May. The restaurant has been a project that has taken a lot of my focus outside of work this year.”
What was your ‘normal‘ day-to-day life like pre COVID?
“During the week, I was waking up early and jumping on the Tube to get a workout in at the Virgin Active in Covent Garden, quickly showering and getting myself to the office to kick off the day. As we work globally with US partners, I have meetings with CA counterparts that go a bit later, so I generally left the office around 2 or 3 p.m. to commute home and finish my meetings from my home office. This allowed me to jump out of a meeting that ended at 6 or 7pm and be able to sit down for dinner with the family, instead of commuting and getting in just before or after bed time.
My husband and I have always prioritised continuing to date, so pre-COVID there were many more dinners out exploring all that London has to offer. We are big foodies and live (and travel) to experience great food, libations, and cultures.
Weekends held a lot more time out in London exploring. At the time COVID hit, we had only been living here for about a year and a half so there is still so much to see. We’d also play with the kids and getting in good family time.”
What is your day-to-day life like now after Lockdown?
“I worked remotely for years before moving to London and have actually always found great balance with a remote set up. It takes away wasted time commuting and allows me to focus that time in work or personal areas of life. You can also take those little breaks between meetings to throw a load of laundry in or water the houseplants (because yes my house has become a jungle since lockdown, I’m all about the houseplants!). I really feel I thrive personally and professionally remote. Don’t get me wrong, I love connecting with my team and coworkers in person, but I find day-to-day, I’m more productive when I’m remote and like to use in-person time to really foster connection and build relationships.
Generally, I kick off my mornings with some snuggles with my kids, cartoons and a coffee. I usually get the kids sitting down for breakfast as I head upstairs for a quick workout. I get ready for the day, which varies greatly depending on the meetings I have in the calendar for the day. I wear anything from yoga pants and tinted moisturizer to a full face of makeup and smart look if the day calls for it.
My husband and I have inconsistent schedules and we are fortunate to have an amazing nanny that helps with school runs. I’m usually sitting down by 8:30am to jump into my work day. On the nights my husband isn’t working at his restaurant, I make sure to close work by 5:30pm and get good family time in. Other nights, I’ll do meetings a little later to capture more time with US partners and sign off closer to bedtime so I can get the kids down. I’m reading the Harry Potter series to my son and it’s our special time together in the evening.
Date nights and weekends definitely look a bit different. During warmer months, we spent a lot more time in our garden and at local parks. Since it’s been a little cooler and darker we’ve found ourselves playing more board games and cooking together.”
What are you now finding challenging right now?
“The seasonal changes are definitely feeling challenging. Being a native Texan the chilly, damp, and extremely short winter days take their toll. It was the biggest adjustment when we moved. As we reach the time of year where you still have hours of your work day left when it looks like the middle of the night, I have to make sure I take care of myself and find ways to keep energy up without drinking my weight in caffeine. Being back in lockdown in November feels like it’s going to be much harder than those long warm spring and summer days we had.
It’s also much harder with young children who need to get their energy out. When you can’t get to the playground or just run around outside after school, the evenings get long as they just aren’t as tired and feel a bit more restless.”
What has got you through? What have been your coping strategies?
‘Self care. Making sure I continue to work out and eat well has always been important to me to keep stress down and ensure I’m feeling my best. It’s been even more important during these times. Also, just allowing time to decompress. So what if that load of laundry doesn’t get done or the dishes sit for a little bit longer. If a break is needed, I try to just take it.’
What are your current handbag essentials?
“Tinted lip balm, hand sanitizer (of course) and a great hand balm to counteract the dry skin. Sun glasses and a compact umbrella, because you just never know what this UK weather will be like.”
What gets you through working from home?
“We’ve always invested in a good coffee machine. I’m a flat white kind of girl, so a good machine and milk frother is a must. This definitely saved us in the lockdown transition as 1-3 cups of coffee are a daily must. I’ve also been drinking mushroom coffee recently and love the way it makes me feel.
I also love my standing desk – since we aren’t out and about as much, remembering to stand up and move around is important. I’m in a good deal of meetings and being able to take them standing at times is great.”
What is your work wardrobe like now from what it used to be?
“On work from home days with no meetings, I’ve always been the type to stay in my workout clothes to keep it comfy. Generally I’m in comfy yoga pants or joggers and a put together top.”
What are your current 5 essential items of clothing?
“I’d be lying if I said yoga pants weren’t a staple a good deal of the time. I recently got this oversized cardi by Find (Amazon’s brand). It fits so well and looks great with jeans, dresses, skirts, you name it. I went back and got it in 3 colours and wear them all the time. Then my Dr. Marten boots also get their wear in – I love tossing them on with a wrap skirt and top or with warm socks and leggings, depending on the day. I would also have a simple black, high neck bodysuit (you can do so much with it) as well as stylish trainers and my jersey midi dress.”
If you loved reading this article then you will love the rest of our How She Carries On series with many inspirational women from Sarah Vine to Whitney Bromberg Hawkins founder of FlowerBX. Read more here