Black History Month was introduced in the U.S. in 1976 as a way to honor the many achievements derived from the African American community. Though it dates back over 40 years, African Americans continue to break barriers present day. Here at Mulberry & Grand, we’re committed to diversity within our workplace and value that in our customers. On that note, we’d like to expand on this idea of diversity, and highlight a few members from our team that are living out their most fabulous dreams!
Introducing, Ashley Coger!
What’s your role at Mulberry & Grand?
I am the Assistant Store Manager for our West Village location. Some of my responsibilities include: location training, keeping merchandise stocked, and up-keeping the general look of the store. My favorite thing about it all is that I am literally free to utilize my creativity to it’s full capacity. Most of which gets dedicated to the visual presentations within the store and in our storefront.
Tell us a little bit about where you grew up.
I’m the youngest of 4; I have two sisters and one brother. Shockingly, I’ve always been closest to my brother who also happens to be 11 years older than me! He always gave such great advice, protected me, and practically helped raise me. We grew up in Harlem, so we got to experience all of the progression and continuous evolving diversity first hand.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
That answer has changed so many times over the last 5 years, which is totally normal. I studied various aspects of fashion for 7 years, and I’m still crazy about it. I’ve tossed up ideas from being a fashion designer, to an event planner. Recently, I’ve come to realize that being on the business side of fashion is what really speaks to me. Eventually, I would love to have my own online store and hopefully work with local designers that are trying to establish their brand.
Who in your life inspires you to follow your big dreams? How?
For my overall professional goal, it’s honestly my boss, Emily Guggino. (she probably doesn’t even know) The dedication to her brand shows in every aspect of the company. No matter what, she always has a way of finding the positivity in everything.
Within my dream profession, I aspire to be inclusive in all areas of my business. Whether it be social media, my actual site, or my staff. I want everyone to feel as though they have a product that is available to them and that they are represented adequately. For that, Jackie Aina inspires me. Jackie is a beauty blogger who recently won the NAACP Image Award. She uses her platforms to shed light on the lack of inclusivity in the beauty community and that is something I strive for.
New York is a very progressive place to live as it comes to equal rights. Do you feel like you face any issues of inequality because of your race or gender?
Absolutely. Unfortunately, to this day I still get profiled and followed around stores. I’ve even had the misfortune of being turned down for certain job opportunities because I didn’t “fit the look” that the company was going for. Thankfully, here at M&G those inequalities don’t exist. We’re a close knit mostly female team (#girlgang), and our differences are celebrated rather than pinpointed negatively. New York is definitely progressive, but there’s still a very long way to go.
Why do you think it’s important for us to celebrate black history month?
I think it’s important for us to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of all those who have made groundbreaking changes— no matter what defines them. As cliché as it might sound, you need to know your history before proceeding to your future. With all that still goes on in the world, I think it’s extremely important for people of color to know that they can do what seems to be impossible. Barriers can’t hold forever; there’s still tons of glass ceilings to be broken.
What lessons have you learned from your culture or the challenges of being a woman that you will want to pass on to your children or future generations?
I would hope that when the time comes, my future children would not have to face any of my current challenges. If in fact this is still a recurring issue, I would want my children to keep their aspirations first, and not allow the stigmas held against them to get in their way. I would want future generations to recognize that the world is a melting pot filled with different cultures. It’s crucial for them to utilize and incorporate all genders, races, and sexualities in order to advance and continue to break glass ceilings.