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Friends build hand-lettering business that's getting buzz: Handmade in the Heartland

Posted at 7:02 AM, Apr 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-05 08:04:18-04

Two Omaha women who run a business for hand-lettering and designing T-shirts, mugs, and pins are getting noticed by the likes of BuzzFeed.

The way that friendship is designed, you sometimes push each other to do your best. So it’s no coincidence these two besties with a passion for design credit each other with the success of their side hustle.

“She pushes me to actually do things,” Ashley Stuhr said.

Stuhr and her friend Dawn Sailors comprise Ad Aesthetic.

"Having that combination of our personalities, we push each other to go further than I think either of us world alone," Sailors said.

The two make graphic-designed objects, witty pins with sayings, and even a illustrated children's book. About half of the work they design on the computer, the other is all by hand — “probably 4 of 5 hours."

They started in 2016, with a website and etsy store with posters and pins. soon orders came in from as far as Germany.

”When we got our first wholesale order, that was kind of a jumping up and down, hugging each other moment,” Sailors said.

Now, in two years, the pair has made everything from lapel pins to tote bags to coffee mugs — more than 40 different designed products.

Ad Aesthetic has also designed signs and shirts for women attending the 2017 march in Washington and made free lip balms with a domestic abuse hotline number for women to discreetly hand out to each other.

"A lot of times, people think design is just about making pretty things and it can be so much more than that. if you push yourself and look for the right opportunities,” Sailors said.

”Yeah, it's really more about visually and effectively communicating a message,” Stuhr said.

And the message from these two women: Work hard, and it can happen.

"I would say, just go for it, just do it."