Ashley Freeborn Smash Tess

Ashley Freeborn of Smash + Tess

Ashley is Co-Founder & Managing Director of Smash & Tess, and the winner of The 2022 RevolutionHer™ Trailblazer Award, recognizing her incredible dedication and commitment to community impact, and the overall betterment of people and/or planet locally or globally.

Where It All Began

Ashley’s clothing concept took root in her childhood, when she and her mom would spend hours researching matching PJs for Christmas. Traditional women’s apparel is either very expensive or ridiculously cheap “fast fashion” — poorly made, quickly outdated, produced without regard for ethics or sustainability. Ashley started Smash + Tess to disrupt the women’s wear market and challenge those standards. Breaking new fashion ground, Smash + Tess designs everywear so comfortable and beautiful it can be worn from the bedroom to the boardroom (with a jacket) or even a party (with a little bling). The company’s bestselling, trademark rompers suit people of all ages and body types, with sizing from Petite to XXL.

The Mission Behind Smash + Tess

Smash + Tess has created its own category of fashion- “Everywear”, providing clothing for every woman, for every occasion, while helping to build a community that celebrates comfortability, style, and girl power! Smash + Tess is all about quality, style, and comfort and is Vancouver-designed, North American made, and globally inspired.

Smash + Tess believes in slowing down the fashion cycle and making clothing on demand and with a clear purpose – to delight their #smashtessgirls. Their best-selling romper fabric is a sustainable rayon from bamboo and cotton blend, and although it costs more to use it, it’s proven to stand the test of time and retain its shape and softness when treated well. Smash + Tess produces all of their clothing in their own backyard under their watchful eyes to ensure that their clothing is made in the very best working conditions by skilled and talented seamsters. Smash + Tess is, first and foremost, a direct to consumer e-commerce brand that services customers from around the world, but their best-selling rompers and everywear can also be found in over 200 boutiques nationwide (including exclusive luxury retailers like Hills of Kerrisdale and Plenty), along with major retailers such as Chapters Indigo and Well.ca.

Ashley’s Insights to Entrepreneurship

What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
I never had the goal of becoming an entrepreneur. What motivated me to start Smash + Tess was the desire to fill a void in the market. It really did start as a side project while I held down my teaching career, and then a subsequent career in the financial industry.

What’s the best part about owning your own business?
The lack of red tape! Although I’m grateful for the experience my corporate career afforded me, I love that we can ideate as a team and then very efficiently make our dreams a reality! It’s a Creative’s dream!

What impact did other people/experiences have on you, and how did they help you get to where you are in your business today?
My parents have been instrumental in my journey towards becoming an entrepreneur! My mom was a business woman in the male-dominated financial sector in the 80s. Although she worked long hours and traveled a lot, I credit her with showing me what it means to be truly passionate about what you do. I grew up dreaming of creating a full life that included a challenging career, and a quality home life – and I watched it play out in front of me every day! My father is very pragmatic and instilled in me a strong sense of ownership and responsibility. These practical attributes have been pivotal in how I approach my business decisions and my day to day!

What values do you believe in and live by, and how do they shine through when it comes to your role as a business owner?
I believe in inclusivity first and foremost. We are more than a fashion brand, we are a lifestyle where women support one another and celebrate one another. I believe in creativity, and ingenuity, and think that respecting this and encouraging this amongst our entrepreneurial colleagues is paramount! And finally, I believe in being uncomfortable. All of the learning happens when we are thrown off balance- so don’t be afraid to take the leap!

What are you most proud of when it comes to your business/being an entrepreneur?
I’m most proud of the community that we have created and all that we’ve been able to accomplish in a very short period of time! I’m so proud of the Romper Revolution. We are committed to looking good, feeling good, and doing good! And I’m so happy that we’ve been able to give back to our community and make a positive impact. Our recent Healthcare Heroes initiative saw us raising and donating $20,000 to WHO’s COVID-19 Relief Fund and creating and donating much needed scrub caps and headbands out of unused and scrap Romper fabric. Over the past year, Smash + Tess has also raised $40,000 for the Alliance of Moms through our “With Heart” Romper initiative, and has also teamed up with Mamas for Mamas and BC Women’s Hospital Foundation to raise funds for their important programs.

What does the future look like for you and your business?
World domination… one Romper at a time!

Any tips for women thinking of starting a business?
To find a hole in a market and go after it, with every ounce of your being! It’s ok to make loads of mistakes a long the way, those come with the territory and don’t make you any less of a savvy business woman. In fact, they make you a courageous one!