Working in Clark County: Ashley Gibson, craft components department lead, Craft Warehouse

By Kay Richardson, Columbian staff writer

Published:

 
Working in Clark County is a brief profile of interesting Clark County business owners or a worker in the public, private or nonprofit sector. Send ideas to Kay Richardson: kay.richardson@columbian.com; fax 360-735-4598; phone 360-735-4550.

We’re entering the season when, reluctantly, we must turn our thoughts and energies indoors. To bring in some warmth and cheer, many of us decorate our homes with seasonal creations made by our own two hands. But many times, we look down at our efforts only to think, “Ugh, Pinterest fail!”

This is where Ashley Gibson and her co-workers at Craft Warehouse can come to the rescue. Gibson — who spends at least an hour each day herself on Pinterest and Etsy looking for ideas — will happily walk insecure and self-doubting customers through the steps of solving crafting bumbles. “I can usually figure a way around it, figure out what went wrong and help them with techniques they need to go home feeling confident in their craft,” she says. “To give someone that joy of successful expression — it is an amazing feeling.”

Residence neighborhood: Hazel Dell.

Employer/business name: Craft Warehouse Hazel Dell, 9307 N.E. Fifth Ave., Vancouver. craftwarehouse.com

Age: 27.

Educational/professional background: I am a proud Vancouverite, born and raised. Most of my life has been spent right here in the heart of Hazel Dell.

I have always been passionate about art. Often, I was reprimanded in school for focusing too heavily on the artistic side of my assignments, or doodling all over my homework and essays. I am one of the lucky few who are able to go to work to do something I absolutely love.

How — and when — you got started in your business: The ability to create is what I believe really defines me. My world has always revolved around the beauty that is creativity. My first and dearest love has always been drawing, a skill I inherited from my grandmother JoAnn, who was once offered a position to draw for Disney. When my mother heard Craft Warehouse would be opening a new location close to where I lived, she insisted I apply, and in May 2016, I began my career with them. Every day I am learning a new skill, a new craft, and I now own enough crafting supplies to keep me busy for the next three lifetimes.

Personal/business philosophy: “It’s a beautiful thing when a career and a passion come together.”

Most rewarding part of job: Crafting can be daunting, even with all of the step-by-step YouTube walkthroughs, and endless blog tutorials. I tend to hear more often than not “I wish I could do that,” or “I wish I was crafty.” The most rewarding part of my job is guiding our apprehensive crafters one-on-one through the project they “wish” they could achieve, then having them come back beaming with their success stories! So many of our guests will return with their finished creations or images because they are so proud of what they have accomplished.

Most challenging part of job: Staying relevant. With the dawn of Pinterest, so many new forms of creativity have opened up to our guests. I like to think of myself as a “personal crafting consultant,” which means being current with all the new techniques, and products or product substitutions.

Something surprising about your work: Many people are unaware that Craft Warehouse is a local family-owned-and-operated business with eight storefronts in the region established in the mid-1980s. I work as part of the Hazel Dell team, and we just celebrated our one year anniversary in July!

A craft that stumps even you: I cannot knit to save my life! I have tried three times now. My boyfriend wants a pair of socks, but I guess he’s gonna have to go sock-less!

Best feature of my Clark County community: I love the concerts put on through the summer at Esther Short Park, the art walks, and Saturday farmers market. We are a quaint town that really provides a great sense of community.

Something that would make your community a better place: Better meal-plan funding for children of low-income families. Many of the “littles” in our community are still going without breakfast or lunch. For many children, the meals they receive during their school day may be the only nutrition they have. It would be amazing to see more weekend assistance programs for these families as well. No child should have to go hungry.

Your favorite travel destination and type: There is just something so special about long road trips; they give me so much excitement and fuzzy feelings. Packing up the wagon with as many pillows and blankets as we can fit, busting out the old CD stash, and packing enough snacks to last the next six months. My boyfriend travels for work, so we are blessed with being able to do this several times a year. My favorite has to be our trip to Yellowstone, and staying at Under Canvas Resort.

Favorite restaurant/pub/coffee shop/store: Sweet Pea Tea Room, Battle Ground; Horse Brass, Portland; McMenamins Edgefield; Salt & Straw, Portland; Yataimura Maru, Portland; Ruddell’s Smokehouse, Cayucos, Calif.

Hobbies: I love all things that have to do with self-expression, including but not limited to drawing, painting, sculpting, crochet, beading, jewelry making, costume design, and mixed-media work. I also enjoy being outside. I pull a large amount of my inspiration from nature — hiking, camping, and fishing are very dear to my heart as well.

Most enjoyable arts event in past 12 months: Hands down, the Oregon Country Fair. I attend this festival annually, saving all of my pennies through the year just for vendors row. So many outstanding creative souls attend this kaleidoscope of culture every year; it takes at minimum two full days to really see all they have to offer, and sometimes that is not even enough.

Who’s on your playlist? I listen to all types of music. Lately, I have been listening to a lot of music by a local group of amazing artists named CoLoSo — Collection Of Lone Souljahs. They frequently play at a few of my favorite local bars, and always rock the house with their original upbeat vibe.

Something you’d like to do this year/within five years: I would love to have my own art studio, a place where I can go and just create whatever I want, whenever I want, as messily as I want.

One word to describe yourself: Imaginative.

Person you’d most like to meet: Ellen DeGeneres. She is one of the most kind and heartwarming souls on this planet. She never fails to keep me laughing, and inspire positive thinking. Being able to attend one of her shows is definitely on my bucket list.