The Creatives: Ashlyn Major’s Print or Solid
Like a lot of creative startups, Ashlyn Major’s began with a simple question: How can my hobby pay for itself?
Exploring those answers set the LSU grad and pediatric speech therapist on the path to turning her passion for sewing into a thriving, sustainable clothing line.
She’d always been into fashion, but not for the trends, more for the way style can inventively aid self expression. “I’m a natural introvert, so if my clothing can say things about me that I don’t have to, that’s a win,” she says.
While in the thick of LSU grad school in New Orleans, she began to feel a strong pull to be a maker and dusted off her old sewing machine.
After a few years of creating her own clothing and gifts for friends, in 2016 Major began selling aprons under the name Print or Solid—signifying her love of juxtaposing quirky and classical styles. Soon she saw a need for ethically made, durable clothing for children that could be passed down to the next generation. With a whimsical lineup of cotton and linen dresses, rompers, jackets and more, she shifted the focus of the brand after an extensive run of research and development, creating samples, and giving pieces away to friends with young children.
In 2017, Major participated in her first market with 13 pieces. Last month, she brought 75. Major’s experience at markets is a lesson for anyone struggling with how to put creative work up for public critique.
“Standing in front of people and watching them react to your art—it was terrifying at first,” Major admits. “You have to practice being vulnerable. Not everyone will accept your work, but when they do, hold onto those moments. They’ll propel you to keep going.”
As Print or Solid’s market and online sales grow, Major remains a one-woman shop, creating each pattern and piece from scratch.
Coming home from her demanding day job and sitting at the sewing machine for hours doesn’t drain the creative, either. She finds it energizing. “But I’ve never been a couch person,” she says.
Sometimes the Louisiana native who began sketching clothes as a child feels like there’s not enough time in the day to get out all of her ideas. She’s always thinking of new approaches to a traditional piece of clothing.
“You just have to do it, perfect your skill and do it,” Major says. “Make what you feel like making, put it out there. I’m a firm believer that what’s inside of us is there for a reason. It’s there to reach someone else.”