This Bronx-based designer is bringing a fresh take to fashion with her instantly-recognizable handbags

Ashley Ciriaco shares the inspiration and motivation behind her namesake luxury handbag and accessories brand, CIRIACO

Video Transcript


ASHLEY CIRIACO: I want people to feel like themselves, but still feel luxurious. You know, there's not too many Black luxury brands. So I'm trying to push that out there, but still make it fun. My thing is still focusing on the silhouette. So it's more of, like, adding the accessory to complete your look. Like, hey, yeah, she's wearing Ciriaco.

My name is Ashley Ciriaco. I'm originally from Atlanta, live in the Bronx. I design handbags, and soon to be launching out clothing as well. Ciriaco means the Lord, but also the leader. And I take it as that. I feel like Ciriaco could be another franchise to lead and to be, like, the next big thing.

What actually pulled me in the direction for designing? It was me and my grandma just sewing. Little things, like a hole here or helping my mom hem her pants. And then, lots of shows. Honestly, "That's So Raven" really inspired me because you don't see a lot of Black women being the main person for the show.

It was mostly, like, oh, my God. I can't wait to dress like that. And it's just so cool to also be able to make your own clothing. So I'm just like, let me just focus on accessories. So that's what came up with the Ashley bag, to fit on your shoulder so it doesn't slip off. So your arm still has a little rest on it.

What influenced that shape was actually the crescent moon. So literally, I was drawing a moon and I just wasn't paying attention. And it just made a full circle. And my friend was just, like, oh, might as well keep going. I just add a little thing at that bottom and made it into a bag.

We started off with 15 bags. And from there, it went to viral on Twitter. I received a call saying that my brand was on the Beyonce website. I was just, like, wow. She actually knows who I am. Thanks to social media is honestly why I'm here today.

AMANI NOWELL: The Ashley Baguette is my favorite. My name is Amani Nowell. I'm a talent coordinator and a production coordinator. And Ashley is one of my best friends. And I'm, like, her unofficial assistant. It's cool. It's fun. It's sophisticated enough to, like, wear it at-- wear to something more casual. You can use it in every outfit.

We were at her storage unit. We opened it up for the first time, and I just started crying because I was like, this is so exciting. I'm so happy for you. I just love her so much.

ASHLEY CIRIACO: I'm definitely designing for imaginative space. I'll just play around with colors on Pixlr or on my iPad, laptop. Even with my nails to be my own inspo, just see what will clash, what will not, what will work. So I try to do a little balance of sophistication, but then still bring in, like, hey, you can dress this down any day. Wear some sneakers and stuff.

Still in shock to this day. Like, obviously, I have the little moments where I cry, but incitement. It's also surreal because this is what I've always wanted since I was a little girl. So just seeing it happening, things happen for a reason.