Radio Maine Episode 68: Ashley Tucci

 

6/19/2022

Dr. Lisa Belisle:

Hello. I'm Dr. Lisa Belisle and you are listening to, or watching, Radio Maine. Today, I have with me in the studio the owner of Aristelle in Portland, Ashley Tucci.  Thanks for coming in today. 

 

Ashley Tucci:

Thanks for having me. It's a pleasure to be here. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle:

One of the reasons we wanted to have you come on the show is that art is important to the work that you do with Aristelle.  And, you are a fan of one of our artists, Andrew Faulkner. 

 

Ashley Tucci:

Yes. I'm a fan of a lot of your artists, but yes, I do have a beautiful piece hanging in my store by Andrew Faulkner. I'm very grateful for it. 

 

Lisa Belisle:

I know this is not the piece you have hanging in your store, but Andrew does do a lot of work with depictions of oceans in them and things that kind of remind us of Maine.


Ashley Tucci: 

I agree. In fact, the piece that's hanging in the store reminds me a little bit of what we see here on Littlejohn with the little boats out by the dock. And in fact, that's what I thought it was at first.  I think his piece fits in my space because of his use of color and because we are along the coast here and people are drawn to Portland for that reason.  Color is back in a big way in fashion this season following the pandemic. And so it was really great to have this beautiful burst of color along with all of the new inventory that I have this spring. So it was perfect timing and a perfect fit. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle:

So that's interesting.  Before the pandemic, were we not into color for lingerie, For our listeners, that is the business that Aristelle is in.

 

Ashley Tucci: 

Yes. That is what we do.  I have a bit of tunnel vision when it comes to the pandemic because I had just taken over the business. I had very little experience going into the pandemic and it was an eye opening experience and I played it safe. I was doing a lot of neutrals and a lot of basics and just kind of trying to survive.  But now color is back and it's in demand and it's super fun to see women exploring color and seeing their eyes light up at what we've brought in for them. And so many women have commented to me that I've curated a collection that meets so many different needs, whether it's their basics or their use of color for our loungewear and our sleepwear. So it's fun to hear that feedback and know that I'm providing for women in a variety of ways.  But yeah, definitely color is back and we're all very excited about it. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle:

So that brings up something that I find very interesting that most people think about lingerie as being maybe something that most people don't see. Or a few people see in a person's life, but not a large number of people, but if you're talking about loungewear and sleepwear than probably there are more people that actually get a chance to see that. 

 

Ashley Tucci:

Absolutely. Absolutely. And you know, really what I strive to do with the store, what my mission is to help redefine the word lingerie. I think our society has created this definition around the word lingerie and what I try and do with Aristelle is make it so that women feel more comfortable exploring shopping for and enjoying lingerie for what it truly is. And it's just like art, it's subjective, every woman has different needs, and I'm trying to meet those needs, whether it's a really great basic for someone who struggles to find something comfortable in their size or someone who wants to have a little bit of fun. And to be honest with you, I saw both during the pandemic. I saw people staying home a lot and they wanted to be comfortable and be able to provide them with those zoom basics, if you will. They were seeing themselves on this little screen and like, oh my gosh, I still need a really great bra. But then I also had a lot of women who were home and alone and they were exploring a different side of themselves that they had never had an opportunity or the time to explore before. So, you know, it was very interesting and a learning experience and a really great way for me to also connect with my customers and meet their needs in a very interesting and curated way. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle: 

So tell me how you did that during the pandemic. I mean, your store is in Portland, and I know Portland had some enforced shutdowns. Which probably impacted you and your business. How did you manage to keep having those connections with your clients? 

 

Ashley Tucci: 

The word I use is hustle <laugh>. It was a hustle and I used social media and that was my plan all along. I knew when I took over the business that there was a lot of room for growth, and I knew that I needed to show up every day, even though my door was locked to the public and show women what I had in those four walls and get it to them. I was mailing items every day. I was taking phone calls and emails. I was taking orders anyway that I could, and I was also driving around and making deliveries to front porches so that people could have a smile on their face. That very moment you placed an order in an hour, I'd have it on your doorstep.  I could do it and it was what I wanted to do. And it really helped me form a deeper connection with my customers. And I think they got to see a little bit more of my personality, which has helped the store grow and thrive during a relatively challenging time for a small business. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle: 

And so did you find that this helped you to build trust in a way with people? 

 

Ashley Tucci: 

Absolutely. Trust and rapport. Like I said, I let a lot of people peek behind the curtain if you will, and see a little bit more of my personality.  I was a little bit, probably more vulnerable. And I actually, during this time won some awards for my social media presence, which was kind of fun to be recognized by my industry leaders for my way of connecting with our customers. And, and the <laugh>, the one thing they said was my use of humor in breaking down that barrier was what allowed me to connect with a lot of people. And I'll use it all day long. Like let's have fun, you know?  So that's what I did. I just tried to make it fun for people. And I would do videos of myself and I would mess up or say the wrong thing and I'd put together these little blooper reels and it was a bit of, you know, self deprecating, but women loved it. And, it was like I said, my way of connecting with them and I enjoyed it as well. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle: 

So tell me what kind of awards these were.

 

Ashley Tucci:

So we have an industry organization called the best OFA, and we also have another organization called Curve,  and they run our trade shows and our markets and whatnot. And so both of the awards that I won were last summer in New York City. And they were both for my Instagram and my social media presence. Like I said, it's a lot of fun to do it. It's a lot of work so it was great to be recognized for that because as much as I love connecting with our customers at the store level, I also love reaching them when they can't come into the store. And I do that through social media. So it's been a lot of fun to do that. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle: 

So what would you say your demographic is? 

 

Ashley Tucci:

My demographic is any woman who needs a bra <laugh>, but truthfully it's a broad demographic, but, you know, I do get young preteen girls as young as 11 and 12 to women who are visiting me from their retirement facility in their eighties and nineties. So I serve a wide range of needs, which I love. I get to come in contact with a variety of women at various stages of their life. I deal with women who are pregnant, who have just had a child. I deal with women who have recently had breast surgery whatever shape that takes.  And I just deal with women who are seeking comfort or wanna have fun, or are getting married. There's something beyond my door for every woman that walks through it. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle:

You grew up in Caribou, which is in Northern Maine. <laugh> About what, five hours, six hours away from here. And I think people who live in Maine know how far away Northern Maine is from Southern Maine. People who don't live in Maine sometimes are surprised to hear that it's almost like a different state. Really. Yeah. How did you find yourself in this part of the state? 

 

Ashley Tucci:

Oh, well, that's easy. <laugh> when you grow up in a small town like that, you wait for the day that you can explore the rest of the world. And I think that's what I did. I came from a loving, wonderful family that grew up there.  But I was ready to move away. And college obviously afforded me that opportunity as it does with, with most students.  So I went to the University of Maine in Orono. I didn't go very far.  Then after college I wanted to move farther away, but got as far as Portland and then I met my husband and now, here I am.  But yeah, growing up in Northern Maine I made like the slow trek south from <laugh> caribou to the Bangor area and now to Portland. And I will say that for as much as I've wanted to leave, I am so grateful that I live here because I love our life here. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle:

Do you still have family up in Caribou? 

 

Ashley Tucci:

I do.  My grandparents are still alive. They're well into their nineties. They're hanging on.  And I have an aunt that lives up there but most of the rest of my family has relocated south. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle:

Are they surprised to know that you own Aristelle and deal with lingerie right now? 

 

Ashley Tucci:

You know, it's so funny. I think about this quite often.  Unfortunately when I was young, my father passed away but he was also a business owner. He owned a sheet metal and roofing company. And so I joke that the sheet metal entrepreneur's daughter now is a lingerie store owner.  I hope he's chuckling as I say that. Entrepreneurship, business ownership, is kind of in my blood.  And to answer your very specific question, I think if you had even told me four or five years ago that I would own a women's lingerie boutique, I would've laughed at you.

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle:

Because you went in a different direction initially with your profession?

 

Ashley Tucci:

I did. I spent about a decade in corporate America in software sales and financial services. It was a really great line of work especially at that stage of my life; newly married with a young child.  We were really just building our life. It was a great experience for me to have. I knew it wasn't what I wanted to do long term. And so every day I'd wake up, I'd go to work and I'd give it my all. I'd work really hard at it but my mind was always somewhere else. My mind was always fishing for that idea or exploring some other avenue just to see what doors might open if I put my mind to it. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle:

So for you, it wasn't specifically the business, it was the idea that you wanted to do something that was yours. It wasn't specific to lingerie. It was more like “I would like to have my own thing that I am working on myself.”

 

Ashley Tucci:

Correct.  Being in sales, you become the face of that brand or that company. And I think there came a point where I was like, I'm good at this, but I want to do it for myself. And I think that's one of the things that I enjoy the most about owning the store, building something I really love and  the behind the scenes work. I love working with our customers, that fills my cup, but I very much enjoy the building of something, the brand, the growth, and putting ideas together and seeing what works. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle:

I think that sales is often thought of in a way that maybe is not always entirely positive. And yet when I think of sales, and I've said this on this show before, almost all of us are doing some sort of sales.

 

Ashley Tucci:

Correct. <laugh> 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle: 

I mean, in medicine, I'm trying to sell people on the possibility of living a healthy life for many years. Correct. So why do you think that people have suspicion around the concept of sales? 

 

Ashley Tucci: 

I wish I knew the full answer to that question, but from my perspective, I think it comes down to authenticity. And I think in my prior life, in my corporate life, there are a lot of people who are inauthentic. And that was what I struggled with the most.  I was always about forming personal relationships and connections with the people that I served, because that's how I was gonna gain their trust in their business and have a really mutually beneficial relationship. And that was the one thing that I learned was that if you are authentic and true to yourself, people will respect you. And I was very young when I started out in my career. And so I was dressed to the nines and the business attire and the, the high heels and because I was young and I needed to be taken seriously. And one of the things that I learned through that was if you are authentic, people will want to do business with you and they will trust you. And so that's what I think sales is missing, especially when we talk about corporate sales is there's just this lack of authenticity. And I am able to, because the store is my business and your practice is your business. You are able to approach it with such authenticity, that people can automatically be drawn to you and can connect with you. And, and I think that's something that's very powerful. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle:

So just before we started talking on air, I learned that you are a closet introvert 

 

Ashley Tucci:

<laugh> Yes. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle:

Or, my husband said to me, you know, kind of an extrovert by profession, by training. Yes. Yes. <laugh>. So I know what this feels like for me as being someone that interacts with the public on a regular basis. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and the comfort that I have reached and what I have needed to do for myself. Tell me what that's looked like for you. 

 

Ashley Tucci: 

Yeah, so people don't believe me when I tell them that I am an introvert. In fact, it's my husband, that's more of the extrovert of the two of us and I am more of the introvert, but I can turn it on because like I say, it's my money maker <laugh> and so I know what I need to do, and that's not to say that it's not authentic, but I just become very tired, very easily with constant social interaction. And so I go to work and I give it my all, and I love what I do, but when it's time to come home and relax, the second I open that door and I slide my slippers on, that's when I can let my guard down and breathe. And I like my alone time. I love solitude. I love being able to be with myself and collect my thoughts and prepare for the day or prepare for a restful night's sleep. I very much value that time. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle: 

And isn't that part of being authentic is that opportunity to connect with a deeper part of yourself and to continue to know yourself in a way that even if it's something that you're sharing with other people versus just keeping private it's that connection piece that really needs to happen on a regular basis. 

 

Ashley Tucci:

Absolutely. I think we need to know ourselves on a deeper level before we can give of ourselves to other people, whether that's one person or a community of people. 

 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle:

So when I also think about being introverted or extroverted, it's interesting that we've come to a broader acceptance of people who are maybe introverted and just understanding that it doesn't mean that if you're introverted, you dislike other people, right. It's just where you get your energy from. 

 

Ashley Tucci:

Exactly. Exactly. And, I would mirror that statement. I do get my energy from social situations, but I also recharge when I'm alone. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle:

So until a few years ago, when I think it was Susan Cain, came out about introverts in the book that she wrote. I think it seemed as though it was maybe not as well accepted. And it's been interesting for me to watch that people who are introverts have come out, I don't want to say come out ahead, but during the pandemic, that's what it was. Everybody had to go inside themselves, yes. To some big extent. So I think there was a group of us who were like, well, this pandemic is terrible. And also I'm okay with staying home for a little bit.

 

Ashley Tucci:

Exactly, exactly. I think it was a good reset for all of us. I mean, we always have to look for the positive in a situation and the pandemic and it's still going on there. It hasn't been the most positive of situations. It's changed the world. It's changed our lives no matter where we live, what our age is, what we're doing, but I think it was an opportunity for people to put the breaks on their pace of life and hopefully use that time wisely to maybe dive a little deeper into who they are and what it is that they want in life. I think that's why you've seen this sort of great resignation, if you will, with people reevaluating their choices in life.  I had already done that. <laugh> just so we're clear. I had already reevaluated that prior to the pandemic which was why I chose business ownership over climbing the corporate ladder. 

 

Ashley Tucci: 

But it was still an opportunity for me to take a step back and grow my business in a more efficient and different manner.  I don't think the pandemic necessarily hurt me and my choice to be a business owner. In fact, I think it helped catapult me and the business when the doors were able to be unlocked and reopened to everyone, because I was able to, again, form a connection with my audience because they were home looking for a distraction from their kids, from their zoom calls, from the laundry, from the four walls of their own home. And I was able to form that connection with them. I was able to get a slice of their attention where in a normal world, I wouldn't have had that opportunity. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle:

How did your daughter do during the pandemic? 

 

Ashley Tucci:

She did great. I have to say that I am not a teacher, and neither is my husband, but he's far more patient than I am. And so together we were able to create an environment for her to continue her studies at home.  She was in fourth grade at the time, so not an easy age, but she is an only child. And so it wasn't as if we had taken her entire world away from her. We were just home a little bit more, a party of three. So she did well. And I would say that like most parents, we had to give into the use of technology a little bit more than we would've liked, but it was her way of connecting with her peers. And she was at that age of learning how to be social and form those relationships. And so like everyone, kids included, we were all just doing the best that we could given the circumstances. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle: 

And I know we're hearing a lot in the news these days about mental wellbeing, particularly when it comes to children and it's something that I think about myself as a parent of older children, but I'm guessing that as the parent of someone who is in the middle school range, you probably think quite a bit about it as well. 

 

Ashley Tucci: 

I think about it for all ages.  In fact, I do a newsletter with the store every Saturday morning and it's a way for me to highlight new inventory, but it's also become a space for me to share what's on my mind and my heart for that particular week. And it's kind of become a thing that people comment on that they enjoy my message. But this week I did write about mental health because May is mental health awareness month. And I think our mental health is so important and often overlooked as it relates to our physical health.  So I very much am open with my daughter about when she wants to talk about things or when she needs to talk about things. And I try to approach it from a very gentle sort of non threatening manner, if you will, and just let her know that I'm here. 

 

Ashley Tucci: 

And if she doesn't wanna talk to me, her father's there, or her Nana who is my mom that she's very close with. It’s important that she'll always have someone no matter what her needs are. But I do think it's really important because I think that the pandemic stripped away so much from our social lives and it had a different impact on a variety of people. And I think the pandemic itself, not to keep saying that word, it highlighted, or it exacerbated the issues that were already facing our mental healthcare system. And if you're not equipped to be able to be there for your child, you need to be able to call on someone that could. And not all parents had those resources and not all adults had those resources for themselves. So I do value mental health quite a bit. You know, I lost my father at a very young age. I went through my mental health struggles in my late teens and early twenties. And I think that admitting to that and talking about it and sharing your story is what I wish more people would do. That they would normalize their struggles, just like a case of the sniffles. And I think that we could help not only younger generations, but our peers and older generations in doing that as well. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle:

So when I hear you talking about losing your father…and it sounds like you lost your father when you were a teenager…

 

Ashley Tucci: 

Yes. I was on the cusp of being a teenager. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle:

So really, really young. That has such a huge impact on a life. And one that I'm hoping that not many kids at that age have to struggle with. Did it feel very alone for you at the time or did you feel like you had the support that you needed? 

 

Ashley Tucci:

I definitely had the support that I needed. I had a very wonderful family. I do have a very wonderful family. We all rallied around each other but it's very hard to go through something like that and not have residual trauma. So it's something that I have dealt with from the time it happened and I'll continue to deal with it until I take my last breath. But it's something that I use to my advantage to help other people, because we'll all go through something traumatic in this life, whether we lose a loved one, whether we become gravely ill, whether we are victim of an accident or, or even in today's world of a mass casualty event, like we're all going to experience and be witness to trauma. And so we need to be a little bit more open about our struggles and normalize it just like we normalize when we have a physical ailment, because the pandemic taught us that when we stay silent and we just rely on ourselves and we don't share our stories and our pain, the impact can be far more devastating. And so I'm, I'm a big advocate of sharing our stories and being vulnerable. And I guess that goes along with the authenticity piece as well. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle: 

Well, I know that my intersection with Aristelle had that kind of a flavor because and, and I've also told this story before, but not for a little while.  When I was diagnosed with breast cancer and I had a bilateral mastectomy, I went into Aristelle once things had been reconstructed and I had healed enough and I was a completely different person, at least one part of my body was, and even mentally and emotionally. And the people that were helping me with my purchases then, and I mean, in a small way, it was just lingerie because I no longer had things that fit the same that they once did. But in a bigger way, it was kind of meeting me at the place of my new identity. And I think that what you do with lingerie or loungewear or sleepwear, I mean, you really are meeting people at a very vulnerable place because we hold so much of our stories in our bodies, whether we understand that or not. 

 

Ashley Tucci:

Yeah, absolutely. That's so true. And that's why our tagline is “love what's underneath.” And it's more than just our physical bodies. It's everything. It's every layer to our being. And, you know, like I said, I work with women from a variety of walks of life and circumstances and it's the second they walk through that door, greeting them with a smile and welcoming them in and sharing with them what it is that we do. And then we provide a one on one service. So we work with women, one on one, and our goal is to first gain their trust, you know, build that rapport and gain their trust. And we have women that will come to us and they'll be very shy. They'll feel like they don't belong. They'll feel vulnerable and shy. And in my mind, I will sort of chuckle to myself because I'll be like, we're gonna be best friends by the time this is over. 

 

Ashley Tucci: 

And sure enough, that's the case. We're helping women see themselves in a whole new way. And it's not just the reflection that they see staring back at them in the mirror. It's appreciating their bodies for where they are right now, not where they were not where they want them to be. It's accepting our whole selves in that moment and allowing women the space to feel safe and comfortable and beautiful. And I don't have to make a dime doing that because to see a woman's smile and to watch her walk out that store with a bag full of goodies, feeling on top of the world. I can die a happy woman with that feeling. It's so fulfilling. I feel very grateful to be able to do what I do. And I think some people say, well, it's just an underwear store. It's not, it is far more than that. And I take it very seriously, obviously. <laugh> 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle: 

Well, I can tell. And, and that's good. And I think what you're describing also is that, you're only in the place that you're in for a very brief period of time. I mean, maybe you'll have one set of lingerie that fits at this moment and maybe for a couple of years then maybe you'll have a baby. Yeah. Maybe you'll nurse that baby. Maybe you'll go through cancer. I mean, there are so many things that cause the body to change over time. And I think that one of the things that happens as, as you go through changes is that some people go through almost a grieving, a grieving of what once was yeah. That will never return. So I think that sensitivity is very important. 

 

Ashley Tucci: 

Yeah. Yes. And all women have their struggles, no matter what their lives look like. We all struggle with something related to our body at one point or another. And what I hope that we achieve every time someone comes into our fitting room area is just giving them the space to take a deep breath and relax and enjoy the moment. And we make it fun. I promise we make it fun. And when I say that we share jokes and we laugh and we hug, and we've cried. I mean, before the pandemic, it was like I was hugging women left and right. And then when the pandemic hit it was asking permission, can I hug you right now? But forming those connections is just awesome. And, myself and each one of my staff members takes that very seriously. And I don't just hire anyone to work at the store. I have to be able to trust them to build that rapport and make that connection with the women, just like I do, because it's an extension of me and myself and each one of the women that work for me are amazing women in their own right. And they do a fantastic job. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle: 

So that's an interesting consideration that we have had the great resignation. I think my sense is – with having my responsibility now is hiring doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants for our health system. My sense is that the tide has started to turn and that people who have reevaluated their lives or evaluated their lives are actually consciously making a decision to go into medicine. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. Did you see something similar with your business, that people made a conscious decision to gravitate towards Aristelle and to become part of the work that you are doing? 

 

Ashley Tucci: 

I wish a little bit more. <laugh> All small businesses these days will tell you that they're short staffed and my stores, no exception.  But I will say that the women that do work with me and that do apply to work at the store, they love what it is that we do. And they've seen us and know what we're all about and they wanna be a part of that. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle: 

Yeah. The small business thing, I find really fascinating too, because having been a small business owner and also having worked in a more corporate structure, I think that there's a lot of interesting trade offs. When I owned my own business and my own medical practice, I made my own decisions. I also, for many months, even years didn't pay myself.

Ashley Tucci: 

<laugh> 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle: 

So you're, you're definitely there's a little bit of a leaping into the void. 

 

Ashley Tucci:

Yes. Oh yes

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle: 

Yes. And working really, really hard. 

 

Ashley Tucci:

Yes. The funny thing is that I'm a little risk averse. So the fact that I even own my own business is quite laughable. Before I took over the business, I was petrified about the prospect. I was like “what am I doing?” It ended up being the best decision of my life to this point, but it is, it is not easy.  I make it fun because that's the choice that I have. That's the opportunity that I have. But I thought I worked a lot when I was in corporate. But, no, no, the jokes on me because I actually work more now <laugh> but I don't necessarily call it work all the time. And  I do, I obviously love what I do. And I also love that my daughter gets to see me devote myself to my work as well. But it's 24/7 and I don't know if I would trade it though. I really don't. It's exhausting, but it's my purpose. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle:

Well, I think that, that's the other interesting thing that I've observed is I have seen people go in and out of owning their own businesses and I will hear, well, I don't wanna work as hard. I don't wanna work for the man, whoever the man is. I don't even know if it's a man anymore, but whoever.  And then when they get out into the world and own their own business, they realize, oh my goodness, I am working harder than I ever worked for somebody else. And then they kind of make a decision, all right, this is right for me or this isn't right for me, but it's a huge risk because it's you personally putting your name on the line and your need to check your emails at night and be the one with the brown bag full of goodies to drop off at the step during COVID. I mean, that just requires so much energy. 

 

Ashley Tucci:

It does. And I think when we go back to the whole introvert extrovert thing, that's where I've created boundaries in my life. You know, I've done over the years, I've done a lot of personal growth and development on myself and I know what I need and I know what I don't need. And so I've been able to create boundaries around my life so that I can preserve my energy for the times that it matters. And I joke that I'm the CEO, COO, CMO and CFO <laugh> I do everything, but I'm also a little bit of a control freak like that. So I don't mind it.  It kind of goes back to the saying: if you want something done, you might as well do it yourself. I have a hard time delegating and I have a hard time asking for help, although I'm getting better at it, but it's manageable for me because I love what I do so much. And I really truly am still in those early stages. You know, I've really owned the store for just shy of three years. And when we talk about the spectrum of business ownership, I'm still an infant. So I don't mind doing all of these things.  But I'm getting better at delegating, which I think is important for all of us, for my survival <laugh>. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle: 

So you told me at the beginning of the show, that color is one of the things that is coming into the industry. Are you noticing other trends? Are there other things that you think are maybe a reflection of a cultural shift that's occurring? 

 

Ashley Tucci: 

Yeah. You know, I think that people are starting to get out a little bit more.  And I think that people want to shop for nice things. Again, they want to, because for so long we were told we can't, and people don't like being told they can't do something, or can't go somewhere, or can't wear something. And so this constant barrage of “no” and “can't” has now been replaced with,  we're gonna go and do. Because we lived for so long, two years with the nos and the can’ts.  So we see a lot of people coming in and being like, all right, I'll take it. It's my size. It looks great. Do I need it? I don't know, but I love it. So yes. And I think that goes along with the lingerie and the sleepwear and the loungewear. And I think it just goes in general with any small retail business. People are willing to – we sought through the pandemic with outdoor goods. Bicycles and kayaks and paddle boards and things that people could do that were socially distant. You know, those industries thrived. And I think in some respect, there's, there's a part of, of my business and what I do in the, in the women's retail space that is thriving as a result of that as well. Because no one tells a woman. No <laugh> 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle: 

So this brings up not exactly related, but you brought up the outdoor industry mm-hmm <affirmative> and do you think people would be surprised to know that you are an avid cyclist? 

 

Ashley Tucci:

<laugh> If they know me? No <laugh>  but yeah, like I said before, I love Maine.  It's a playground for myself and my family. We love to get outside and take full advantage of the four seasons, including winter. We're big skiers. But my passion is cycling.  And I'm usually wearing bright flashy colors and trying to go as fast as I can <laugh> but  my time on the bike is my one-on-one time with myself. It's my daily conference call. It's my daily zoom meeting. It's my therapy. It's a time for me to not be a mom, not be a wife, not be a business owner to just be Ashley. And I value that time. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle:

Do you go by yourself or do you go with a group? 

 

Ashley Tucci: 

I do go by myself. I've been invited to go on group rides and although fun, like I said, it's, it's my time to process my thoughts and be with myself. And sometimes I'll stop along the way, like here on Little John and enjoy the view and enjoy the water and smell that salty air. There's nothing like it. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle: 

Yes. I feel the same way you do about running and I equally run with my husband and occasionally other people but it is often a time to be solo and enjoy the outdoors and the woods.  

I think you're a road cyclist?

 

Ashley Tucci:

Now I'm a road cyclist. I do have a mountain bike and I do dabble with it but it actually scares me more than being on the road.  I know there are dangers with riding on the road these days and I have some technology in place to help me stay safe, but I have just this big fear of hitting a rock in the woods and taking a big digger and just breaking a lot of things. <laugh> 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle: 

I can't really blame you on that one. 

 

Ashley Tucci:

There are wonderful mountain biking trails around here but I just love being on the road. I think it's sort of an adrenaline rush for me.

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle: 

So do you always make it up the hill that's outside of our home on Littlejohn?

 

Ashley Tucci:

Every time.

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle:

That's so impressive.

 

Ashley Tucci:

I can't say that I'm not cursing my way up that hill but I make it up for sure. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle:

Anybody who's ever cycled this area knows Littlejohn Island and the two hills. One that's scary on the downhill and one that's very challenging on the uphill. It’s very impressive that you make it up that hill that's actually right outside our house. 

 

Ashley Tucci:

Yes. But it's also a really beautiful ride. And so it makes it all worth it. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle:

Yes. That's very true. Many things that are very difficult and a lot more rewarding on the other side. 

 

Ashley Tucci:

Yes, absolutely. And that's what life's all about. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle::

Where can people find Aristelle? 

 

Ashley Tucci:

You can find me at 92 Exchange Street in Portland Maine. It's where we've always been located. We're open Monday through Thursday from 11 am to  6 pm and Friday and Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm.  We're closed on Sundays since we all need a little break.  And you can find us on the web at www.aristelle.com or my Instagram page, which is @AristellePortland. And that's probably where you'll get the most bang for your buck because you'll see all of our antics. You'll see all of the beautiful items that we have in store.

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle:

And if they go into Aristelle in Portland they can see the painting by our lovely Portland Art Gallery artist, Andrew Faulkner. 

 

Ashley Tucci: 

That piece is just so beautiful. I am so grateful that I get to show up every day and stare at it. It's going to be a sad day when it's gone. And I hope that it's gone very soon. <laugh> I want someone to enjoy it other than me but it is such a beautiful piece. And we recently renovated our fitting room area of the store and brought it up to a level that met our needs a little bit better. And it's just such a beautiful piece for people to come into the store and see. We get a lot of questions about it and a lot of compliments on it. And I tell everyone who the artist is and where they can find more information about it. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle:

Perfect. It's been a pleasure to talk with you today. 

 

Ashley Tucci:

Likewise. 
 

Dr. Lisa Belisle:

I do encourage people to go find Ashley Tucci at her store, Aristelle in Portland Maine, or find her on Instagram. It sounds like she has a lot of good stuff happening. Maybe even sign up for your newsletter

 

Ashley Tucci:

Yes, absolutely. Sign up for the newsletter. See what we're all about and come give us a visit to see for yourself. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle:

Very good. Well, thank you for being here today. 

 

Ashley Tucci:

It’s been my pleasure. Thank you. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle:

I've been speaking with Ashley Tucci, who is the owner of Aristelle in Portland, and I encourage you to go see her store and all of the wonderful things that she is selling. Also, go there to see Andrew Faulkner's painting on the wall of Aristelle. 

It's been a pleasure to speak with Ashley Tucci. I am Dr. Lisa Belisle and this is Radio Maine. Thank you, Ashley. 

 

Ashley Tucci:

Thank you.