Makers simply can't not make. When you spend time with a gifted maker, it doesn't take long to realize that "making" is a lifestyle—not just an interest. In that sense, DandyLion didn't just "start." The brand has been...in the making...for decades. Meet Ashley Farland, maker, founder, and inspiration behind DandyLion.
You started as a chef. Tell us about that.
After college, I pursued a cooking career through the New England Culinary Institute. After graduating from culinary school, I had fabulous opportunities to chef in New York. I was part of the team that opened Joel Robuchon's L’Atelier. Following that, I also cheffed at Gramercy Tavern and Marea, ultimately leading to several engagements as a private chef. But my love for textiles and wood predated my chef career. While I was in culinary school, I had a membership at a nearby woodshop, where I made furniture on weekends.
What led to a switch in focus?
For five years I flew back and forth every week between Vermont and New York City. That got old. I wanted to live in Vermont full time, and since private cheffing isn't really an option here, I knew I needed to create a new path. So I turned back to my first love—textiles.
That's a broad category! Any specific kinds of textiles?
I love indigo—especially Japanese boro and sashiko stitching. "Boro" means "tattered" or "ragged" and it's created from discarded fabric scraps, which are used to mend, patch, or reinforce items until the scraps actually become the item. Boro grew out of necessity—not throwing scraps away but finding another purpose and creating beauty. Sashiko is a simple running stitch used in boro. My other fabric love is cashmere. My friends call me the cashmere queen.
How did these interests converge?
My budget has never aligned with my taste. I love quality, but I've always had to be value-conscious so I always bought clothes from luxury consignment stores. In 2021, I decided to create a lifestyle store, where I would create a large percentage of the products I sold, understand the craft behind the products, and honor the ethos of sustainability, reuse, and superb quality.
Wow...so then what?
Well, I'd never sewn before 2021! Minor detail. So I started taking private quilting lessons, learning precision and repetition. Since then, I worked full time making shoes for a year, graduated from a vocational sewing school, and now work in a clothing manufacturing factory—learning new tricks every day. These experiences gave me the skills to begin making DandyLion pillows. I found sources for deadstock men's suiting fabric and other premium-quality remnants, which allowed me to use fabric that otherwise would have been sent to landfills or stored in warehouses for years.
When did the wood products come into being?
I would have gone to the Vermont woodworking school if I hadn’t taken my first quilting class! When I sold my house in Stowe to start DandyLion, I met an expert wood worker who helped me build my tiny house. His products are beautiful and lasting, so he was a natural addition to the DandyLion team. In addition, a local woodworking shop has "adopted" me, so I can work in their workshop on weekends. I love it.
Where do you see all this going?
My plan is to grow the Dandylion textiles division. I did the hours as a chef, now I'm doing the hours as a sewist—the formula is practice and passion. DandyLion will never produce endless quantities of a product. Limited quantities are more interesting. We use what's available and when it's gone, it's gone. On the wood side of the business, our goal is to develop heirloom-quality pieces with sophisticated designs that require a certain level of experience to produce. We have a great start.
Anything else you'd like to add?
I just wish there was less mediocre stuff in this world and more good stuff! That's our goal at DandyLion.