Heather Kemesky Rises to Design for Her New Line ‘House of Ash’

It’s no coincidence that reinvention and rebirth are at the core of Heather Kemesky’s new jewelry and elevated basics line, House of Ash. After she made a popular custom piece as a declaration of her love and celebrating her queerness, the model has been busy during quarantine expanding her line to include a capsule collection of elevated basics that can be worn inside and out, perfect for this pandemic limbo stage as society crawls toward healing. “Ash as a substance was beautiful to me and reminded me of a Phoenix rising from the ashes, rebirth. Ash sounded strong, so it was perfect in starting my new journey.” Assisted in the campaign imagery by Kemesky’s partner, model Erika Linder and with campaign images shot by Sonia Szóstak, Kemesky gives us an exclusive look at House of Ash’s latest campaign, her motivation behind starting the brand, and how important it is to champion LGBTQIA+ causes.

Be sure to check out House of Ash at Shop Style Guise.


Courtesy of DNA Models/Sonia Szóstak

What is the meaning behind ‘House of Ash’ and why did you want to create a clothing and jewelry line?
The name was born at my old place that I called “The Tower” in NYC after I had already decided I was embarking on this new journey. I tried so many different names that weren’t sticking and then started to use my own name and played with that. Ashley is my middle name and I always loved Ash for short. Ash as a substance was beautiful to me and reminded me of a Phoenix rising from the ashes, rebirth. Ash sounded strong, so it was perfect in starting my new journey. It’s something I always wanted to do and didn’t know where to start. I have been expressing myself in so many creative ways forever, whether I have shared it or not.


Courtesy of DNA Models/Sonia Szóstak

How were you able to conceptualize your new brand under lockdown?
I bought lots of supplies for jewelry making at home so I would have the things I wanted to feed a favorite pastime. I had the idea to make a custom piece for myself, so I had the design cast and molded. I brought the letters home and played with stones, pearls, and silver chains to design what came to be the GAY Pearl necklace. It was originally just something I made for myself, the first piece of what House of Ash became, to empower myself with the energies it holds and stand bold in my existence. I wore it one day hanging with my friend and she said, how amazing it was and other people would want it too! So, it was the piece that started it all.

I loved the idea that something so special to me that I designed would be worn and cherished by others. Like most things in my closet I buy with the intention to keep it forever and to be able to pass it down, so it’s important for anything I make to be something that is special, well made to last, and that could be handed down for lifetimes to come. Something classically unique in its own way. Through this journey of jewelry making, I was sketching ideas of my perfect things that I would love to have as well, so it led to making clothing. We spent a lot of time at home living in pajamas last year, working from home and what I lacked most was the basics that could be worn inside and out, dressed up or dressed down, to bed or going out. I have so many ideas that I can’t wait to design but I’m just starting with the multifunctional basics I craved.


Courtesy of DNA Models/Sonia Szóstak

Did you have any delays in production or were you affected in any way?
Everything is made in Los Angeles, so I never had to have anything shipped from overseas but, of course, during COVID things have been slower. A lot of companies had to sadly cut back on their employees so of course things were going to take longer to get done with less help. This has all been a new learning experience for me so, I have been taking it slow. It’s more work than one thinks to start a brand, crossing all the T’s, dotting all the I’s. My deadline was Pride Month, the perfect time to spread my new love.

What has the modeling industry taught you in terms of design and have you always been interested in designing?
Since I can remember, I have been making jewelry and adjusting my clothes. Being in this industry just gave me another form of access to a different creative part of myself and has shown and taught me so much. They both bring ideas and stories to life, in one art form or another and we are able to express ourselves through it.

When it comes to design, I was able to see so many talented people firsthand create masterpieces before my eyes, fittings for example for the shows, it’s not the most fun part people would say about the show process but, I was intrigued when you see the craftsmanship and detail firsthand, you have much greater respect for each piece. So much love goes into it.


Courtesy of DNA Models/Sonia Szóstak

Your first piece was a silver necklace that spelled out ‘GAY’ and it quickly became a standout — how important is it that your brand reflects your personal style while simultaneously championing LGBTQIA+ causes?
It’s important to me as a gay woman to embrace my community and all that we are. My slogan is “Made for All In Los Angeles”. Something that has happened many times when I shop in “the men’s section” when I check out is I get “who is the lucky guy getting this gift”? I personally don’t shop dedicated to men’s or woman’s clothing as I buy anything I like or feel comfortable in. As House of Ash grows, it’s important to me that I try and stay as unisex as possible and not have anything labeled “men’s or women’s wear”, so no one ever feels shame shopping in the “wrong section”.


Courtesy of DNA Models/Sonia Szóstak

Take us through your design process — how was it creating this line with the support of your partner, Erika Linder?
It’s a scary thing to take a chance and invest in yourself for a dream you have and making it a reality. Without the support of Erika and my family and friends, I couldn’t have done it. There have been many times I thought to myself, can I do this? Is this a real possibility for me? So, having encouraging voices around me was so incredible. Everything started with paper and pen, sourcing materials, and bringing the idea to life in many fittings later. When it came to designing the striped print, I custom-designed at home about 30 variations and narrowed down the one I liked most, had it digitized and printed on my cotton fabric. I designed my own logo in photoshop myself with all the little tools, I hardly know how to use, so to see that embroidered on my short pocket was extremely fun to see. Each and every little detail has brought it that much more to life and made it all the more real to me and tells me that it’s just the beginning.

If you could pick a favorite piece, what would It be and what significance does it hold for you?
It’s hard to choose, as they are all a first of everything for me. The GAY pearl necklace will always be “the one that started it all” in my eyes, but there are so many things to love about the rest of the collection that I have created so far. The two tank tops are special because unknowingly the straps coming undone quickly became something special for a woman to breastfeed in. I love a multifunctional piece that fits on everyone for every purpose.


Courtesy of DNA Models/Sonia Szóstak

What are you most proud of?
I’m proud of myself for taking a chance. Following a dream and making it a reality. It’s not easy to do something you’re afraid to do, but at the end of the day, if we’re not scared of what we’re doing, we’re not taking big enough chances so, I know I’m on the right path.

What advice would you give a young designer or model wanting to expand their creativity?
I would say don’t let fear stop you from doing anything you feel drawn or compelled to do. We are our biggest critics, so don’t worry about the rest and go for it by taking advantage of this life, because it’s beautiful and share your soul’s work.


Courtesy of DNA Models/Sonia Szóstak

What are your plans for expanding the line and are there any materials that you want to incorporate into your line in the future?
I have lots of plans for the future of House of Ash with clothing and jewelry. I’m just taking it step by step and finding my way first. As I originally started with jewelry designing as my first sketches, clothing wasn’t far behind. My imagination takes over and it just becomes my personality when it comes to ideas and creating, I get excited and spiderweb in a multitude of directions but they all come together making perfect sense.