For many families, having a mother, father, husband or wife who works in the oilfield can make life difficult. Many people are forced to find ways to cope with long periods apart. For one oilfield wife, all that time at home turned into a business.
Ashley Harris wanted to work while her husband of seven years, Dustin, worked in the oilfields. But she didn’t want to sacrifice her position as a stay-at-home mom for their eight-year-old daughter, Kaydence. Because her husband is away so often, Harris believes she has to be there for Kaydence. “I’m all she has 100 percent of the time,” Harris said.
As an “oilfield wife,” Harris saw a unique opportunity to put her experiences and pride to use that would allow her to work from home. She started making designs for clothes with slogans like “Oilfield wife. Just like a regular wife, but way cooler.” Her ideas were geared toward women like herself, whose husbands also spent much of their time on the job and away from family. With her husband’s full support, Harris purchased the equipment she would need to start creating her clothing design, and Ashley’s Custom Apparel was born.
Two and a half years later, this one-woman operation has quite the following. The Facebook page currently has over 10,000 fans. In addition to making many of her own ideas into fashionable attire, Harris also facilitates requests for custom designs or slogans. All of her designs express the pride in an oilfield family lifestyle.
It took a great deal of learning for Harris to grow her business to where it is today. When she purchased the equipment to start producing her wares, Harris had to learn how to use that equipment from square one. Although she researched carefully to find out what equipment she would need, Harris had no working experience with any of it. “Graphic design software was the hardest,” she said. “I’m still learning two and a half years later!”
From her office at home—“Who doesn’t like being able to work in their pajamas?” she rejoiced—Harris brainstorms her ideas. “My creative process starts out with a large glass of wine,” she joked.
In reality, the slogans and phrases on Harris’ products can come from her own creativity, from gathering ideas, or simply from talking to others who live the oilfield family lifestyle. Even her husband contributes to the pool of ideas occasionally.
“Normally I have an idea in mind, sit down, and try to design something that I would wear myself.” Her daughter, when she isn’t at school during the week, loves to try and help. She loves her mom’s business and tries to come up with quotes or design ideas for Harris. “She wants to work with me so badly, but some of the equipment can be dangerous, so she can’t do a whole lot,” Harris said. “I do let her clean up all she wants, though!”
Harris treasures the fact that her business doesn’t interfere with her time with her daughter. “It really works out for the best,” she said. “Kaydence doesn’t have to be put in an after-school daycare or anything. I am able to take her to school and pick her up every day.”
Transitioning from her Etsy page, Harris just launched her new website on Wednesday. Dozens of designs are available on everything from kids’ clothes to sweatpants, but Harris’ staple is occupational-related shirts. Harris also posts all of her new designs on Twitter.
Although Harris and her family live in Seguin, Texas, her husband has traveled through much of the United States. He’s worked in the oil industry since the age of 18, and is currently a snubbing supervisor for an international company in the industry.
Because Harris operates the business singlehandedly, she says it can sometimes be a little overwhelming. She makes products as the orders come in, and her website warns that shipping can take anywhere from ten days to eight weeks, depending on the current volume of orders. But her designs are made to please, and Harris frequently receives thank yous from her customers and pictures of them in the clothes she’s designed.
To check out more designs from Ashley’s Custom Apparel, click here.