University of Georgia - Fashion Merchandising and Consumer Journalism
[Editor's Note: Ansley's interview is the third in a series celebrating Southern Proper this week. Check back all week long to learn what it's like to work for the Southern fashion powerhouse.]
Southern Proper was built on the idea that every southern gentleman should know how to dress from head to toe. What began as hand-drawn neckties evolved into a lifestyle brand devoted to dressing men and women in classic style. As president of wholesale and customer service for the clothing line, Ansley Kuhlke makes sure each and every customer is taken care of.
“I absolutely love working with people and that is what I do every day,” explains Ansley. But she also makes sure to note that “selling clothes to cute pretty guys is always a plus, too!” And while we totally get the allure of a charming man with an accent, we also love Ansley’s southern belle demeanor that leads her to “take the high road in every situation.”
Making relationships is the key to success.
How did you discover your current job?
When I was in college I was fortunate enough to intern for Southern Proper. My uncle introduced me to the brand in 2009 as he sold Southern Proper in his retail store in Augusta, Ga. After I was in intern for the summer, Emmie (Southern Proper's Founder) thought I would be a great asset to the company, and I was hired right after I graduated.
What responsibilities do you have in your role?
Every day varies for me, which makes it so fun! My main role is to take care of all wholesale accounts and make sure customers get their order. I also answer all customer service inquiries and head up our social media.
What was it about your job that makes you feel it’s the right fit for you?
I absolutely love working with people and that is what I do every day. Talking to people on the phone, as well as visiting stores, is the highlight on my job. Selling clothes to cute preppy guys is always a plus, too!
What challenges keep you awake at night?
Putting a new product out is always stressful. We are so confident and know it will be a hit, but there is always a chance it will be a bust. Also, working with factories is always a challenge. We may need a certain product to come in at a particular time, but it could get held up in customs or just have a late delivery date. All in all it’s a pretty stress-free environment.
Is work/life balance ever a problem with you? If so, what is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?
Luckily the balance between my work life and my personal life are all connected. Southern Proper is a very social company, so I make sure to invite friends and family to every engagement. I do have to travel a good bit, but it never interferes with my personal life.
Was there ever a moment in your career where you’ve thought, “I made it!” What was it?
We strive every day for these “We have made it” moments. Of course we have had little moments on the way, but I am still waiting for my “I have made it” moment that really takes Southern Proper to the next level.
What are some of the rules you live by?
Emmie has instilled the rule to take the high road in every situation, life or work, no matter what. I try to take that rule to heart and be nice everyone in any situation. It is not always easy, but in the end it is the best way to be.
What qualities does it take for someone to be successful in your line of work?
Confidence is key in this line of business. You have to have the confidence in yourself and the product you are selling. If you are confident in it, then other people will be too!
What one piece of advice do you wish you could tell a 21-year-old version of yourself?
I have learned that making relationships is the key to success. People are going to want to do business with people they like as long as they can deliver. Keep, and build, great relationships that can help you along the way. I also would say not to stress out about not knowing exactly what you are going to do after college. Opportunities will arise in the craziest places and everything will work out!
If you were to pick one concert to go to, what would it be and why?
I would have to say Lady Antebellum because they are from my hometown of Augusta, Ga., and they just have good wholesome country music. You can never go wrong with good country!