The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Alumna makes career with vacation souvenirs

Ashley Gilroy knew that when her parents told her that she could travel the world as a reward for graduating a semester early that she was bound to have a few adventures. What she didn’t know was that the souvenirs she brought home from her travels would serve as her launching pad into a successful career in fashion. 

Gilroy says, “It goes to show that it doesn’t really matter what major you are because you end up doing all kinds of crazy thing when you graduate, especially in this economy!”

After graduating SMU in December 2008 the journalism major founded the company, “Bindi”, a fashion line that features kaftans and jewelry. Bindi also represents an Indian jewelry company called “Vipul Arts Jewelry” in the United States.

During a vacation in India, she set out to find her boyfriend’s mother a unique piece of jewelry for a 50th birthday present, but the entrepreneur ended up with a lot more than a necklace from a store called “Vipul Arts”.

“I went back (to India) three weeks after returning from my first trip with about five thousand dollars. I was begging the owners (of Vipul Arts) to give me more jewelry…I said ‘this is all I have, but this is all I want,’ and I convinced them to give me about $60,000 worth of jewelry,” Ashley said.

She admits that, at the time, she had no idea how a business was run, but it has been profitable since the beginning.

“I made my money back in the first two weeks,” she said. “I borrowed $5,000 from my parents and paid it back with a week of returning from my second trip to India.”

Ashley immediately hired sales representatives to help her expand the company by doing trunk shows all over the United States.

Bindi clothes and jewelry are now sold in Texas, New York, California, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Florida. The company also has a website and a Facebook page for publicity.

“It really just exploded—I’ve sold at least 600 kaftans in the past month—I keep getting shows in New York, California, and Houston,” she said of her business venture.

In July, at a trunk show in Aspen, Colo., Bindi sold a few hundred thousand dollars worth of jewelry.

Amanda Mervine, a senior journalism major at SMU, went to that show in Aspen, and was hooked on Bindi. 

“I like the dresses so much because they’re just so comfortable,” said Mervine. “It’s something I could wear to run errands or even wear out on a Thursday night.”

Even the stars are wearing Bindi’s Zipul Arts jewelry. Beyonce Knowles and Victoria Beckham have both been photographed wearing it.

“It’s the perfect dynamic because college kids can wear Bindi as well as older women,” said Stacey Randol, the public relations and sales representative of the company’s instant success. “It captures the unique Indian look, something that you can’t find everywhere.”

Mervine agrees that Bindi’s success is related to the unique style of the clothing and jewelry, but says it should also be attributed to Gilroy’s approach.

“She is very aggressive and just goes after what she wants,” Mervine said. “Her goals are clearly ambitious, and I think that’s definitely an attribute to how successful she has been. She’s made the right connections, she’s good at meeting people–networking, and–putting herself out there.”

Gilroy gives much of her credit to the experiences in college. “I think the most powerful tool that SMU has is its networking capabilities,” she said.

Gilroy was first introduced to the fashion industry during college with an internship at the magazine, “Glamour.” She made the connection to work for the magazine through a fellow member of her sorority, where she was a strong leader.

“I really think I was able to get that internship because of the SMU network and connections within it,” she said.

 She also believes that studying journalism prepared her with extensive researching skills, which is how she found out how to run a business in the first place. In the beginning, she was traveling to India every three to four weeks to pick new inventory and to help design, where the ability to make quick, yet educated business decisions was imperative.

“I was finding things that I knew would be good PR pieces mostly, because my training prepared me for that part,” she said.

A few months ago Gilroy relocated to New York City, where she runs her business out of her apartment telecommunicating with her teams of sales representatives across the nation and her designers in Mumbai, India.

“I have slowed down, now I still go to India every couple of months,” Gilroy said. “Work is definitely my life, but I love it.”

The entrepreneur said she always imagined she would be in editorial right now, but everything just seemed to fall into place with her business. 

“It was fate,” she said of meeting the designers in India and her sales representatives. “When it happens organically you know it’s right.”

To shop the collection of colorful handmade kaftans and jewelry, visit


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