Kentucky State University alumna put on "Blinders" and followed her passion
One Kentucky State University alumna has found her niche by creating a unique eyewear company.
Brandy Ashford, a 2017 graduate, began an eyewear company called Focused on Forever, which sells wooden eyewear.
“I’m the owner and visionary for Focused on Forever Eyewear, located in Hamburg Vision Center in Lexington,” Ashford said.
Blinders by Focused on Forever are a wooden eyeglasses and sunglasses product inspired by Ashford’s childhood.
“Focused on Forever was inspired by a young life spent with family on Stony Point Farm, my grandfather’s love for training and grooming racehorses, and one of the biggest traditions in the Bluegrass,” Ashford said. “The Kentucky Derby horses wear blinders that keep them focused from distraction during the race.”
Ashford said watching them resonated with her during her personal journey, resulting in having her own form of blinders that would keep her focused on her own path. That path, more specifically, she said, was going back to school.
“My line is designed to symbolize those same blinders that serve to keep us focused on our path,” Ashford said.
Ashford said she learned about the concept of wooden eyewear from a company called Wood Stock Eyewear while in the process of looking for frames to produce.
“I met the owner, who is from Slovenia,” Ashford said. “We Skyped about the possibility of working together and she explained that wood is alive and full of energy, which intrigued me and made me want to make wooden eyeglasses a focus for my brand.”
From there, Ashford was connected with a manufacturer.
“I was fortunate to connect and develop a strong relationship to learn the industry, what styles are popular and what we should keep in our inventory,” Ashford said. “They make suggestions for styles, as well as work with me to create frames we love. I had the opportunity to meet my manufacturer in September at the 2019 Vision Expo!”
Ashford currently also works as a college and career coach for her high school alma mater, Bryan Station High School, in Lexington.
Ashford said in 2015, after many life changes, she made the decision to finish college at the school of her dreams, Kentucky State University.
“I was a non-traditional student who came to campus twice a week to take a class and the way my professor was so helpful, and my peers were so welcoming made me look forward to the 30-minute drive down I-64,” Ashford said.
Ashford said the most important things she learned at Kentucky State was pride and professionalism as a black woman.
“I learned that I don’t have to compromise and water myself down to make others around me comfortable,” Ashford said.
Ashford said if she could give advice to current or future Thorobreds, it would be to be kind, network and be relentless.
“If you are passionate about something, don’t stop until you get it,” Ashford said.