It all began with a pandemic…
In March of 2020, our first family-owned business, AsheDesign.com, faced serious challenges just like everyone else being affected by closures of businesses and schools. In business since 2005, our customer base of photographers, many of whom shot sports in group settings, were heading into what should have been their busiest season traditionally. We had to find a way to keep them going.
As a result, we made a major pivot and designed high school graduation lawn signs for the class of 2020 which we provided to our photographers so they could pitch it to their high schools as a way to celebrate these seniors who were missing out on a traditional graduation season. This included one of our very own family members, so it was close to our hearts. Lawn signs for seniors turned out to be a HUGE hit and saved our customers from closing their doors. Instead of losing the teams they usually photographed each spring, they found themselves providing lawn signs to entire senior classes, multiple times over for the schools in their areas. Many reported making more money in the 2 months leading up to graduations in June than they had the entire year prior. Wow! Nothing made us happier than seeing our customers not only survive the storm, but thrive.
So now what? These lawn signs seemed to be a hit. What could we do next? We were still in lockdown from the pandemic and our customers were requesting signs for drive-by celebrations like birthdays and graduation parades. So, we delivered, of course! After graduations settled down in early June of 2020, we focused our attention on the birthday signs.
Our photographers were wondering if we could create the big HAPPY BIRTHDAY letters for lawns which they felt could help supplement their incomes and also use as photography props. Absolutely! But this was quite a departure from our core business of digital photography templates. After all, we weren’t in the print business. Following an enthusiastic family meeting, 11thStreetDesign.com was born and named for a family vacation spot we’ve all been going to together for decades, some our whole lives.
It was decided our 11th Street Design team would consist of Sonja Ashe (founder of Ashe Design), Connor McQuade (college student turned entrepreneur extraordinaire), Kyra Ashe (Sonja’s daughter and design partner), as well as Griffin McQuade (brother to Connor and the high school senior who fueled our passion for this new venture). While Ashe Design would continue to be run by Becky McQuade (Sonja’s sister, Connor & Griffin’s mom and a former RN with an amazing talent for graphic design and team leadership. Someone has to keep all these people focused!) as well as Sandy Prive (whether we refer to her as Mom or Grammy, she’s the matriarch of our family, the one we all learned our work ethic from, and the customer service manager at Ashe Design).
Connor McQuade decided to try his hand at customer service and not return for his junior year of college in the fall semester of 2020. If this was as successful as we had envisioned it could be, Connor could chart his course accordingly. Fortunately, his customer service skills are beyond what any of us could have hoped for, matched closely with his love for analyzing numbers. We know a business is only as good as it’s customer service and Connor hit it out of the park making for very happy customers as well as a very happy mother, aunt and grandmother! Needless to say, he is not returning to college any time soon.
Kyra Ashe, also a college student returned for her junior year on a remote basis. This allowed for one-on-one training in between classes from her mom, Sonja. Together, they created, and continue to create, all of the beautiful products offered by 11th Street Design. Kyra has shown great aptitude for learning the tools of the trade as well as the same passion for design shared with her mom. As a result, she is now a full-time designer and not returning to college. Kyra and Sonja are also yard carders with their uncle Mark’s entertainment business, learning first-hand how to help keep a business who relied on large gatherings alive during a pandemic. This is an important component for any yard card designer to know the other end of the business.
Griffin McQuade is our 2020 high school senior who needed to make a decision about his future. As remote classes for his freshman year at college seemed less than appealing and we needed someone to manage our products and marketing, it was an easy decision. Griffin would round out this new venture by managing our social media, building out our website and learning the marketing side of the business. A tall order to fill, Griffin has stepped up with ease.
There are 2 more children in the mix, the youngest and son to Becky, is Devin McQuade who has also voiced wanting a piece of the action. So, we taught him how to design and he now takes care of all of our custom orders (i.e., personalized sign frames, birthday banners & car magnets…for now). Devin is still in high school, but very responsible, following in this brothers’ footsteps. The oldest, and son to Sonja, is Tiernan Ashe, who is a member of the Air National Guard graduating from basic training and tech school in July of 2021. Tiernan is training to become a crew chief at Barnes AFB. This makes us all so proud, especially his grandfather who is also a veteran of the Air Force. Although it looks extremely unlikely, should he decide he’d like to work on a computer with us instead of under the hood of a fighter jet, we’ll welcome him with open arms!
As one big family of entrepreneurs, it’s a blessing to work together in our sole mission to help our customers’ businesses grow and thrive. We are firm believers in being thankful for what we have every day. We know the pandemic has created the opportunity for so many to become small business owners themselves and we are committed to helping you succeed.