A Very Special Partnership—The Ashleigh Bergman Collective
"I've known Ashleigh for almost 15 years. I first met her when she was the buyer at the illustrious (now sadly closed) Fred Segal in Santa Monica when I was working for Maya Brenner. When I launched AGJ, she was one of the first stores to pick up the line, which was such a dream come true for me. Fred Segal was one of those marquee retailers—a store that other buyers around the world would frequent to see who they carried. I continued to work with Ashleigh when she moved to Philly to be the buyer at Anthropologie (another major moment for me). By that time, we were both pregnant and we'd be waddling around market appointments together. While she was there, we collaborated on an AGJ x Anthro collab that sold really well. After she had kids and pivoted her career into being a consultant and private sales concierge, we continued to work together. And now that Milestones is such a strong business, I'm even more proud to be a partner. Ashleigh and I are cut from the same cloth and it's been so rewarding to watch our careers grow in tandem. This collaboration is a real full-circle moment for us and I couldn't love that more. I recently got the chance to sit down with Ashleigh to talk about the launch of AGJ x The Ashleigh Bergman Collective, and wanted to share some of my favorite moments here.
How did you get your start in jewelry? What has been your career path to date?
I started my career at famed L.A. fashion retailer Fred Segal at the age of 14! I worked as a sales girl, and eventually became a manager and then buyer, which is where I met Ariel, and carried her line. During this time I also partnered with Nina Segal to design, wholesale and retail our namesake jewelry line, NASH. After working at Fred Segal for 18 years, I took the leap to move to Philadelphia to accept the position of Senior Jewelry Buyer of Anthropologie for all 250 stores and web business. I had my first child while in Philly, and after 1 ½ years decided it was time for my husband and I to get back to our family in Los Angeles and his career which was based there. Managing a $40M jewelry business was an incredible experience, but I longed to get back to working with customer directly. With the personal shopping/styling businesses becoming more and more popular, I honed-in on my love and expertise of jewelry, my acumen in the business of jewelry, and 20 plus years of relationships with the best designers, diamond dealers, and craftspeople, to create a more personalized experience and secured my place in this niche market. Milestones by Ashleigh Bergman takes service to another level by offering a hand-picked selection of who’s who in jewelry, delivered to my audience from my point of view on social media, my ecommerce website, and through private consultation. With a passion for having the perfect balance of emerging and established designers, I guarantee there is something for fashion and accessory lovers everywhere who are looking for something new and unique to add to their jewelry boxes or gift their friends and family.
How/when did you meet Ariel and how did you two forge a relationship?
I met Ariel when I was a Senior Jewelry Buyer at Fred Segal. I fell in love with the aesthetic of her line immediately and just as much in love with Ariel as a person. Whenever we saw each other at the store, in her office or at shows, it seemed like we could talk for hours, like she was a girl I grew up with. I always felt like we were cut from the same cloth, if you will. That’s part of the reason I decided to work with her again when I was the buyer at Anthro. Of course I am a freak about product and design; but the person behind the product has always been just as important for me. We were always able to inquire with each other about advice, sources, referals, etc.
As you probably noticed from my company name, jewelry has always marked special Milestones in my life, and I have always counted on Ariel for those heirlooms. My latest Ariel Milestone bauble is her imperial disc necklace which I have engraved with my husband and kids’ names. This piece I wear nearly every day marked the completion and wholeness of my family.
What inspired you to create this collection?
Throughout my career I have been fortunate to work with people who are inclusive, generous with sources and advice, supportive and collaborative. I really wanted to honor that synergy, cultivate more of it, and put a spotlight on those whom I felt embodied that spirit.These pieces embody the jewelry I would want in my jewelry box and I'm proud that they are made by this amazing line up of designers - Ariel Gordon Jewelry, Charlie & Marcelle, Eden Presley, Eriness, Maya Brenner, My Story, Nina Segal, Samira 13, Walters Faith. I adore all these women, what they do, and how they do it. The Ashleigh Bergman Collective celebrates the spirit of collaboration over competition with a collection that symbolizes, love, strength, friendship and empowerment. Plus, anyone who knows me, knows I can never have enough jewelry. So the idea of getting to co-design a piece of jewelry with these incredible designers that would be made encompassing my vision with their aesthetic, was a major turn on!
How did you decide on the partners to work with/bring into the partnership?
The decision of WHO to work with was the easy part! First of all, I have worked with most of the woman for more than 10 years, since my Fred Segal days, and I am so proud of those relationships that we’ve cultivated, even throughout my career pivots. All of the designers are women whom have embodied generosity and collaborative spirit over the last 4-22 years of my career. I partly wanted to say thank you to them, and also to publicly exemplify that “getting ahead” in your career is such an antiquated strategy and belief. I believe it is so much more powerful to develop a tribe and rise together.
How collaborative was the design process?
Since The Ashleigh Bergman Collective embodies the jewelry I would want in my jewelry box made by these designers, I mostly threw out the first pitch and we went back and forth from there. With Ariel specifically I have always been a mega fan of her signet rings. My first one, I bought for myself when I got married with my married last name initial on it. I gifted my bridesmaids with the same ring to memorialize the day. Then Ariel came out with a larger version which I coveted for years! Those same bridesmaids gifted me with the larger signet with my daughter’s initial when she was born. I wear it every day. Sooooo I love hearts, and Ariel hadn’t designed a heart signet yet. I also love Ariel’s turquoise pieces. I married those ideas together, and thought Jumbo Heart Signet Ring, and she was totally on board. She executed our vision perfectly! I’m literally OBSESSED…again.
Ariel treats AGJ jewelry as collectible everyday pieces. How do you envision these pieces being worn?
I have the same philosophy as Ariel. I have always believed that jewelry is meant to be worn, and does no good sitting in a safe. It was kind of fun being the ring leader behind all the designs because I was the only one who knew what everyone else was doing. I wanted to make sure that any and all of the pieces would look amazing worn together. Each and every design is a hero piece to me, but they all complement each other exceptionally well, just like the women behind them.
When it comes to jewelry, I have multiple personalities and my vibe changes daily, from feminine and delicate, to over the top baubles, to vintage vibe, to edgy and everything in between. The only thing that is constant is that I’m always layered in jewelry, and I wanted to co-design a collection that I would lather myself in, and that would mix in with items I already have in my rotation. The fact that my taste varies means that the collection also appeals to a range of personalities.
How will you wear/style your new AGJ ring?
The weight of the ring, the way the turquoise is set (gives me a little vintage vibe), and the size of the heart are all aspects of the ring that I am in love with. The hardest part is that Ariel’s piece was one of the first to be completed and I’ve literally been staring at it every day for 3 months dying to take it for a spin! I haven’t been able to wear any of the items since we have been keeping the collective under wraps. Sometimes, I would just wear it around the house or when I was in my office alone. I am so excited to finally get to rock this heart beauty! Originally, I envisioned it as a pinky ring, because I wear all of Ariel’s signets as pinky’s and to me there is nothing cooler than an oversized pinky. But of course it is available in alternate sizes to wear on the rest of your fingers too. I love it so much, I got a yellow gold one for my pinky, and another rose gold one for my ring finger! I have a vintage opal bauble I am waiting to rock it with!
I really just hope this project inspires people to get out there and collaborate with others. Think what you could do when you get outside of yourself. Share your knowledge, your gifts, your experiences, and yourself, and don’t be afraid to ask others for help!
Shop the limited-edition AGJ x The Ashleigh Bergman Collective design now.