Tuesday, July 17, 2012

HerKentucky Story: Ashley Turner of Pink Julep Abroad


HerKentucky is thrilled to introduce y'all to Ashley Turner, the blogger behind the fashion and lifestyle blog Pink Julep Abroad.  Ashley, a Paintsville native, lives in London (England, not Laurel County) after stops in Miami, NYC, and Grand Cayman.  Girl knows a thing or two about travel! Ashley graciously agreed to share her travel story with us today.  You can get to know Ashley better on her Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, or Spotify.




I have lived all over the place... Miami, New York, The Cayman Islands and I now call London home. No matter how far I roam, my story started in Painstville, Kentucky, a tiny town known locally as "the land between the lakes." The one thing that really stays with me from my Eastern Kentucky upbringing is the music. Situated along US 23, also known as "the Country Music Highway", there was no shortage of musical inspiration with some of the greats like Loretta Lynn, Ricky Skaggs, Dwight Yoakam, The Judds and Keith Whitley coming from the surrounding area. 

Country Music Highway Museum, Paintsville

My family, like lots of others in Paintsville, was always a musical one. My parents were both musicians and music educators and my uncle played in a few rock bands in the 80's & 90's, later becoming a member of The Kentucky Opry, so we went to concerts all the time. Sometime around the age of 10 years old, I started singing and getting involved in small productions and choirs. By the time I was 13, I was performing in musicals at the local high school alongside Chris Stapleton, now a successful musician & songwriter in Nashville. At age 15, I started spending my summers working at Jenny Wiley Theatre, an outdoor summerstock ampitheatre located within the scenic Jenny Wiley State Park.
Ashley in blue on the far left in Oklahoma,  Jenny Wiley Theatre 1999.


Working summerstock is no easy task - the hours were long, the pay was almost nothing (the first year I made $50 a week before taxes) and the work was hard, but as a teenager, I had invaluable experiences there and met a lot of interesting people who would provide me with an education I'd have never gotten elsewhere. It was a fellow JWT cast member in 1997 who told me about the theatre program at the University of Miami, which is where I chose to attend college in 1999. I studied hard, played hard and worked hard for 4 years in Miami and when it was all said and done, I stopped off in Kentucky for 9 months to save money before heading to New York City. 

I went to New York City to be a Broadway star (as you do), but after seeing the long audition lines that often came with a fruitless return, I quickly decided that wouldn't be the life for me, so I put my management degree to work and got a PR & Marketing job on Broadway instead. That fantastic opportunity eventually led to working for Roundabout Theatre Company and later Film Forum, an art film house in SoHo. Living in New York was a great experience, but when my soon-to-be fiance was transferred to the Cayman Islands, I knew it was time to leave so I followed him to the sunny Caribbean where we stayed for nearly 3 years.
Grand Cayman Island, 2008

I was like a fish out of water in Cayman. I was fashion obsessed on an island with very little shopping and afraid of the ocean (too much Shark Week!) in a major dive destination. Aside from a few cover bands and a community theatre, there wasn't much going on. It seems as though everyone in Cayman is a stay-at-home mom, a lawyer, a banker or an accountant so how does a country music-lovin Broadway girl fit in? Like most other expats in the Cayman Islands, I went to work in the finance industry. It was about 6 months after I arrived on the island when I saw that some of friends from dance class in high school were blogging in Kentucky and shortly after that, Pink Julep was born in the Dunkin Donuts on 7 Mile Beach. I finally had something on the island that I could create and get interested in, but it was also a way that I could keep up with what was going on at home, not just in Kentucky, but the entire USA. 

After the first 2 years, we reached our expiration date in Cayman, After months of planning, saving and applying for various visas, we packed everything we owned into 14 bags and came to London with no jobs, no prospects, very few contacts and a vacation rental apartment to stay in for 3 months. I didn't know what I wanted to do, but I knew it wasn't finance. While in Cayman I did a lot of reading and became fascinated with lifestyle brands, magazines and blogs, so I set out to find a way to incorporate that into my new life abroad.
London has proven to be a great choice! It's been a fantastic time to be here with the Royal Wedding, Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics, not to mention the ever-growing British fashion industry! I worked for a while at a digital agency in the social media department and I'm now a freelance content writer and social media consultant in addition to writing my lifestyle blog Pink Julep full-time. When I'm in need of inspiration, I always find myself looking to home and the music of where I grew up. It's been more than 10 years since I left home to go to University and it's exciting to see a lot of the people I knew from home making names for themselves in the music industry! If you find yourself in the Eastern Kentucky area, I'd recommend checking out a show at Jenny Wiley Theatre, a visit to the Country Music Museum, or head to the Mountain Arts Center to see The Kentucky Opry or one of their other many entertainment offerings!
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5 comments:

  1. Ashley, as a Kentuckian looking to move abroad in the next year (Central America), do you have any suggestions or top tips? Things you wish you knew when you were in my shoes?

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    1. Hi Lydia, the best thing I can suggest really is do your research! Not just with visas and legal matters, but about everything little thing. When I came to London, it took me 2 weeks to find clothes hangers... Had I known they were so expensive and hard to find, I'd have brought some with me. Little things like that can be frustrating. Also, I depended a lot on social media to get me through. Twitter friends could tell me where my nearest grocery store was, where's the best place to find hairspray, restaurants, reliable places to buy furniture, etc... Things I just didn't know, so make some friends on Twitter or Facebook in the area if you can. Also, it can be really lonely if you don't have friends there already - if you're part of an active expat community, that's great, but if not, look up clubs and things you can join. Maybe there's a Junior League where you're going or some kind of American club or American Women's Association? Even if you don't stick with it, you'll make some friends in the beginning of your stay which is great. Best of luck on your move! If you have any other questions, please don't be shy - find me on twitter or e-mail ashley@pinkjulepabroad.com. I'm happy to help!

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    2. Thanks for the tips, Ashley! Who would ever think hangers would be hard to find in London?

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  2. Loved getting to know more about you, Ashley, and having the excuse to check out your new endeavor here, Heather. Too fun!

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