Each Memorial Day, we re-run a FACES of Atlanta from the past year that seemed to resonate well with our readers. This year, we’re thrilled to bring back Ashley Hesseltine of Witty + Pretty!
From television spots to stand-up comedy, this local blogger and former editor of Daily Candy Atlanta proclaims her saucy view of life, love and longer lashes on her hysterical Witty + Pretty blog. She’s selfied her way through marathons, lip-synced through snowmageddon and mastered the art of layering product for a flawless finish. Her NATO-like boundaries for engagement etiquette are HuffPo endorsed, and she’s determined to narrow down the sociological origins of childbirth gifting, or “push presents.” From her antics with Trey Humphreys, founder of Fur Bus to her Instagram feed of her faithful four-legged companion, Dewey (#dewhess), Ashley’s an open book, seizing every moment. Every single day. All day. All the time. (Girl, I mean for realz, do you sleep?)
When you were a little girl, what did you want to be when you grew up? And now… do you plan to grow up?
A fashion designer. I remember sitting in my fifth-grade classroom and confidently stating I would be a famous fashion designer one day, while wearing stirrup leggings and a turtleneck. I do want to be a grownup one day. Or at least have a grownup savings account and investments while still acting like a 20-something.
Speaking of growing up, how did a teenager from Delaware find her way to Clemson, South Carolina?
I literally just picked it out of one of those fat Princeton Review college books (my Bible back then). I wanted to go to college in the South for some odd reason, and UNC’s application had too many essays (says the writer). So I applied to Clemson online in about 20 minutes, got accepted right away and never even visited until orientation. My parents were like, “I think we should go visit.” And I was all: “Um, hello, it’s SENIOR YEAR. I have way more important things to do than visit colleges right now.”
Did you fall hard for the Deep South? Do you now consider yourself a Southerner?
When I first got to Clemson, I thought, “Get me out of here!” But I would say by second semester of sophomore year, I had fallen in love with it. I’ve been in Atlanta for almost nine years now (holy sh*t), so I guess I’m technically a Southerner. But I will always be a Northern girl at heart. I’m liberal, curse a lot, do everything fast (walk, drive, talk, drink), don’t wear Lilly Pulitzer or own anything monogrammed, am 30 years old and not on a husband hunt and am severely turned off by fratty dudes who wear khaki shorts as swim trunks to the beach.
How did you develop Witty + Pretty?
Back in 2011-12, I was getting more into beauty products and treatments and realized there weren’t really any beauty blogs I loved. I wanted to combine beauty with funny, and while the site still has a lot of beauty content, it has definitely evolved with a lot more pop culture, social media and straight humor. The site had its two-year anniversary in April.
Since W+P launched, what have been some of your most life-changing beauty discoveries?
You keep a well-pedicured toe in many pools — TV, writing, comedy, pop culture, social media. What’s your favorite venture?
I love it all, but I definitely want to end up on TV or radio (or both!) regularly. I do love stand-up, too. There’s no rush quite like it, but I have a ways to go in that department.
Do you have a philosophy behind your comedic style? How do you determine when to draw the line … or do you?
I try to write or talk about stuff that’s relatable — those “edgy” things people think but don’t say. I try not to be too offensive, but then again, the “polarizing” content is what can get really popular. I ask myself, “Would Chelsea Handler say this?” If I think the answer is no, that’s probably too far.
Who is Trey Humphreys, and what exactly IS the nature of your relationship?
GROSS! Just kidding. Trey is a great friend I’ve known for a few years now, and we both enjoy stupid antics, like dressing up and going to reptile conventions. And he’s done some awesome blog writing for Witty + Pretty (a little one you may have read about selfies). I promise we are just friends and only have one child together named Joel (he was adopted by a lady we know in Acworth who runs a ferret rescue). And while we’re talking about Trey, I encourage everyone to check out his amazing, newly opened restaurant, Smokebelly, in Buckhead. I will be there patio-drinking and stuffing my face all summer long. And take the Fur Bus there.
Now let’s get serious. Dance-off: TLC vs. Destiny’s Child, who wins? Do you go chasin’ waterfalls?
ALWAYS TLC. And “Creep” over “Waterfalls” for sure. Although I do break it down when Destiny’s Child “Lose My Breath” comes on. In 2004, I threw my neck out while dancing to that and had to go to an urgent care facility the next day. My mom freaked out and thought I had spinal meningitis. True story.
If you were a cartoon character, which would you be?
I have to go with Ariel. I always want to be where the people are.
Should high-end boutiques, fine jewelers and luxury auto dealers start offering “push present” registries?
HA! I can see Buckhead starting that trend. I said it in my blog: “If I am ever going to GET FAT AND NOT DRINK FOR NINE MONTHS, I think I’m deserving of a trip (via private jet) to my own tropical island stocked with vodka, nachos and puppies, with Sam Smith live-serenading me the entire time.” Where’s the registry for that?
Please give us your summer festival strategy/survival tips and preferred hangover recovery method.
If I’m going to be festivaling or partying hard for three or more days in a row, I stick to vodka soda/water and try to stay away from wine, sugary mixed drinks, dark liquor and shots (but, I mean, a little Fireball never hurt nobody). Hangover recovery: Two bananas in the morning and drink water until you feel sick. Then start drinking again.
As you head out for fun in the sun, what’s in your beach/pool bag?
My Suntegrity 5-in-1 suncreen for face (OBSESSED), SPF 30 for the body (Coola is my favorite), Ray-Ban fold-up wayfarers, latest issue of Marie Claire or GQ and a cute coverup. I’m loving this beach kimono I got at Nordstrom (Juniors department for the win!) that I can pull on when I feel like my shoulders are getting burned, but not feel too covered up and frumpy.
Lightning round. Give us your favorite:
- Cocktail: My go-to is vodka (Pinnacle, of course) and soda with splash of grapefruit juice.
- Local food truck: Fry Guy (Does that make me fat?)
- Ice cream flavor: Ben and Jerry’s Chubby Hubby (I think it’s 3,000 calories a serving.)
- Pizza topping: Pepperoni. Or meatballs. (OK, someone call Jenny Craig.)
- Atlanta landmark: Fox Theatre, BeltLine, Clermont Lounge
Name three things that you cannot live without, other than faith, family and friends.
Ashley, thanks for putting the witty in pretty and some extra fun in dysfunction. Silly can be sexy, ladies, so lighten up and laugh!