AshleySmith1

Ashley Smith is the owner of Haute Society. (Photo courtesy of Ashley Smith)

In June 2013, Ashley Smith hosted her first event as owner of multipurpose event planning firm, Haute Society. “I love to go into a space that’s empty and completely transform it,” Smith told the AFRO. “The biggest part for me is making that dream a reality because when you see your client’s face after you’ve gone from zero to reality, its amazing to watch.”

Since the age of 14, the Chicago native has cultivated her event planning skills working with non-profit organizations, youth centers, and foundations. When she moved to Washington, D.C. to attend Howard University, she began hosting events with campus organizations like the Undergraduate Student Association and Chicago People’s Union as well as off campus with organizations like the Congressional Black Caucus. As a psychology major and African-American studies minor, her educational background informs her work.

“ really helped me to dive into who I am as a person and I really wanted to share that with everybody. When you’re enriched in your culture you appreciate yourself more,” she says.

Through Haute Society, Smith has created events that celebrate African-American lifestyles from dance and poetry to art and education. She’s also avid about creating a business model that elevates minority business owners. “We want to have our own network base so whatever a client needs – from makeup to nails to fashion to photography –the goal is that we can utilize our entrepreneurial network base of Black businesses,” she says.

As a millennial entrepreneur at the cusp of her professional career, she knows just how difficult it is to get started.

Many of the company’s first events were in her home, before they branched out to local parks and larger venues. Not only does she want to be an example to her demographic, but also provide guidance and education for budding startups in the city.

“I feel as though I was put on earth to help others, and everything I learn, I want to share with African-American people,” she says. “It’s definitely possible to get through those first struggles when you have people who’ve done it already there to advise you.”

As her May 2015 graduation approaches, Smith reflects about her progress and future growth. “It started from just these ideas in my head and so for people to now appreciate that and want to utilize Haute Society is amazing,” she says. “That’s just the first goal of the company.”

For more information, Ashley can be reached via email at hautesocietyllc.com. You can also find the company on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HauteSocietyLLC.