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Beyond the Pencil (Skirt): Meet Ashley, Stick Figure Productions

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Meet Ashley Bush, a recent Barnard graduate with an insatiable desire to capture life experiences through a camera lens. Her interest in people and culture led her to pursue a career in documentary films. We caught Ashley in between trips to Tyler, Texas, where she is currently working on a documentary with Stick Figure Productions about the Tyler Rose Festival. Ashley chatted with Levo about her love for Little Rascals, interviewing strangers, and having Barnard President Deborah Spar as a mentor.

Bonus: Be sure to read Ashley’s inspiring article on The Liberian Women’s Sewing Project, a new garment factory aimed at employing women.

Current city: New York

Education: Barnard College; English Major, Film Minor.

Company/Job Title: Producer at Stick Figure Productions.

Before this job: I co-produced a web series with a good friend, Raffi Sapire, on inspirational professional women, while working as a research assistant for Deborah Spar, President of Barnard College, on her new book (coming out September 2013).

Style icon: People on the street in my neighborhood, Soho. I am continuously inspired by my fellow fashionable New Yorkers.

Staple pieces to splurge on: Comfortable heels, white button down, and black or tan cashmere sweaters.

Favorite store for bargain pieces: Club Monaco has great sales for young professionals.

What bag do you carry to work and what are the essential items inside? My FEED bag – preferably the FEED Kenya bag if I don’t have to lug a lot. Essentials include: my laptop, my headphones (they happen to be a fun turquoise color), and Clarins’ chap stick/lip gloss combo stick.

Make up or all-natural? Blush, concealer, and mascara. Call it a day!

Did you always imagine pursuing a career in documentary filmmaking?: I’ve always loved the entertainment world. When I think back to my childhood, there are certain films that define the various stages of my life: Little Rascals, Thelma and Louise, Ordinary People. I love the idea that no matter where you come from, no matter what your background is, film has the power to be that common denominator, that shared experience. Film helps us to tolerate life’s mysteries.

Tell us about your documentary on the Tyler Rose Festival in TX. What is it like delving into the lives of strangers?: Someone approached me to make a documentary on the Festival, and I brought it to Stick Figure Productions. Since then, I’ve been to Tyler three separate times, and now I walk through the town grocery store, and I will run into at least 3 people I know, its fantastic! Entering into the lives of strangers (with a big ol’ camera!) is a tricky thing that requires a lot of trust and time, especially if you want those really raw, organic moments.

Most inspiring documentary you’ve seen?:
My all time favorite documentary is Bombay Beach. A beautiful, heart-wrenching documentary by Israeli director Alma Har’el. If you can believe it, she shot the whole film on a Canon Vixia (which costs like $600 at Best Buy!). It is absolutely beautiful, I highly recommend it.

Currently reading en route to work: I walk to work and listen to podcasts. I am in love with ‘The New Disruptors” podcast series by Mule Radio Syndicate.

Workout regimen: Yoga or a nice long run on the West Side Highway.

Free time activities: Reading and journaling at the McNally Jackson Bookstore on Prince Street.

Favorite restaurant:
Joseph Leonard in the West Village.

Best piece of advice: Don’t be afraid to fail. Gem of advice from Reshma Saujani.

Career role model: Two fellow Barnard ladies. Barnard President Deborah Spar has always been an inspiration. I do not know HOW she does it all, and still finds time to ask about my day. And Barnard alum Binta Brown because she always provokes me to approach situations from a different, non-conventional angle.

In 10 years: Our world is changing so vastly; especially in the media/entertainment world there is so much room for innovation. I can’t wait to see where the next 10 years will take me!

Words of wisdom for young professional women: Don’t take yourself too seriously. Life will work out!


#Style Lifestyle
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Um, I want that sweater NOW!

Ashley is beautiful inside and out!! I admire her passion for film and can't wait to see what the future holds for her.

Carly Heitlinger
Carly Heitlinger

Oh, she has the best style. (And I love her advice to other young professional women.)

Elana Gross
Elana Gross

"Don’t take yourself too seriously. Life will work out!" I love this advice from @Aw_bush of @stickfigurepro. Great advice & great style!

I agree 100% with splurging on comfortable heels—emphasis on "comfortable!"

Fun coincidence - I read this email and my the next email was's daily product showcase --- featuring Feed bag's on sale!

They don't have the Kenya bag Ashley loves, but they have 2 other and some bracelets on sale.


Love this series!

The McNally Jackson bookstore is my favorite, too! Such great advice - and now I want to watch Bombay Beach!

I'm a huge fan of documentaries, can't wait to watch Bombay Beach. Def agree with both quotes "don't be afraid to fail" and "Don’t take yourself too seriously. Life will work out!" Yes!!!

What a genuine, lovely interview. I am inspired to switch up my listening to Pandora all the time and instead listen to podcasts on my walk to work. And the color of that blue skirt just pops - it is amazing!


I enjoyed it a lot. She is amazing.. I need to remember her words(:


Such an amazing series!

I love that one of your role models is Binta, who was one of our previous Office Hours speakers! #womenhelpingwomen

It's almost Friday again. Looking forward to the next article. This is getting better and better.

I'm always fascinated to learn how documentary film makers are able to earn the trust of their subjects such that they act normally in front of the camera. It's also inspiring to see that you don't need a massive equipment budget to make a powerful documentary, as Ashley notes about "Bombay Beach"

Love the advice : Don't be afraid to fail

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