Hello – I’m Nicola Ashe, a brand strategist living in Durban, South Africa.
I love my dogs more than people, coffee more than most food and have a mild obsession with new sneakers. I spend my days running a digital agency and my spare time on instagram discovering or sharing anything new and local.
So just how did I end up doing this? Here’s my story.
I have a background in both interior and web design and spent the years after qualifying as an Interior Designer, travelling Europe & North America, as well as working in restaurants – this is definitely where the foodie bug bit. After living in London for 3 years in the late 90s, I returned home to Durban and spent the next 15 years working at some of SA’s top companies, specialising in advertising & marketing, web, product & packaging design, point of sale design & manufacture, printing, TV production & event management.
In 2009, I started a blog after being asked too many times to remember – “Where do I get that?”, “What is the best?”, “Who can do this?”, or “When is that on?” I either knew the answer, or had a suggestion and my friends used to joke and say, “Ask Ashe”.
I always said I’d start a business and name it that, but I started this blog instead and it became my place online, for the mess in my head to hang out.
For the first 6 years whilst blogging, I worked full time as an Account Manager, on the Mr Price Group and then Unilever accounts and Ask Ashe was just a side hobby. It was my little space on the interwebs where I could share my thoughts, voice my inner monologue and punt any cool, relevant stuff going on in Durban, the design world, South Africa, overseas… you name it – if I’d tried it and loved it first hand, or wish I could have because it was downright cool or clever, I wrote about it.
And then in 2014 I just had enough.
The corporate advertising world was driving me batty and it felt like my head was going to explode. I no longer felt passionate about what I was doing and it was as if something was missing. The scary thing is everyone around me thought I was so together and that I was living my dream – but it was quite the opposite. Cue many meltdowns and a good few months of soul-searching and I eventually threw in the corporate towel, along with the support of my husband, who was prepared to eat salticrax all month if it meant I was going to be sane!
Fast forward to 2021 and we’re one year into a global pandemic and I’ve never been more fulfilled. I ran Ask Ashe solo as a brand consultancy until 2018, working with over 400 small businesses to launch or revamp their brands. And then in mid-2018 I joined forces with 2 incredible partners and together we now run a digital marketing and e-commerce agency in Durban called TDMC.
I no longer consult to small businesses on a 1-on-1 basis, instead I use my knowledge of the industry to assist the businesses we work with, to define and refine their own brand strategies. In the past 3 years since I joined TDMC, we’ve built over 200 SMME sites and supported them on their e-commerce journeys.
My blog is now just a repository of all the cool things I found- these days you’ll find me over on instagram, where I share anything local and lovely, as well as a healthy dose of dogs – I live with 5 rescue mutts!
I was a secret reviewer on the Eat Out Durban Restaurant Panel for 4 years – pre-COVID – and have written countless articles about my city, its people and small business, so you’ll always find me supporting local and shouting about my clever colleagues, who are pioneering small business in Durban and South Africa.
Thanks for stopping by.
PIC OF ME BY CHRISTY HOSKING