Ashlyn Chesney has an eye for stylish men – and a job that requires her to meet them. As director of Mr Porter’s Style Council, the online retailer’s lifestyle and travel guide, she scours the globe for its best connected gents and finds out their favourite hotels, restaurants and bars (that Ashlyn gets to visit in the process – a girl’s got to do her research, right?). Talking with Collective Hub while in Sydney – where she inducted Haydenshapes Surfboards founder Hayden Cox to the Style Council – the former events manager says her move from Texas to New York “on a wing and a prayer” kicked off her career.
“I had done a show in New York for fashion week and met with a boutique company that produced shows and events,” she told us. “They offered me a job, but they needed somebody to start in two weeks, so I gave my notice to both of the jobs that I had at the time, booked a plane ticket, found an apartment on Craigslist and moved to New York with $1,000 in my bank account for an unpaid internship.”
After her time with Soho’s LDJ Productions, she freelanced in fashion events before detouring into property development with André Balazs.
“I ended up staying in that role for three and a half years, but because it was more of a desk job, I knew I wanted to travel and be more client-facing again. So I quit my job, once again, going into the unknown.”
Ashlyn had “a bit more” in her back account this time, so took eight months off to visit Argentina, Uruguay, Paris and London – where she met Mr Porter’s brand and content director, Jeremy Langmead. “He had this role that he was looking for somebody to fill, and it was exactly what I was looking for. So we decided to partner up.”
Nowadays, she works with the Style Council members (all 121 of them, including Pharrell Williams, Dev Patel, and Scott Schuman) and is heavily involved in the back-end of the platform, making sure that “those profiles are always updated, the locations are still relevant and that they’re populated and easily searchable.” She’s also deep in development, having helmed the relaunch of the Style Council app. In a digital space teeming with travel guides, Mr Porter’s offering stands out, Ashlyn says, because everything on the site is tried and tested. “They are places that we are genuinely fond of. There are real people behind the recommendations. A lot of other sites just capture the newest, latest and greatest, and they don’t keep it up to date. It just becomes a name on a list and it’s filed away. The Style Council is really living and breathing.”
One thing all style council members have in common, though, is a desire to give back to their communities – be they in tech, fashion or media. “Hayden Cox is one of the most interesting [members] because he’s been studying his craft since the age of 15 and is completely self-taught. He’s designed and patented a revolutionary frame, FutureFlex, which is used in surfboard construction. Coming from that point of passion and being able to make such an impact on the industry is really cool. It’s fascinating.”