Photography by Jeffrey Schad | @jeffreyschad


Meet Ashley Ruprecht: co-founder of Laurel & Ash: a brand and 50-acre farm based in the Hudson Valley that produces limited batches of 100% pure, wood-fired, Grade A maple syrup. Prior to founding Laurel & Ash in 2017, Ashley has had an impressive and diverse career path: From modeling in the early aughts working with world-class photographers such as Steven Meisel, to creative advertising and marketing at MTV’s World Design Studio and Ogilvy, to starting a millinery brand Faeth Millinery in 2014. Today, Ashley not only runs Laurel & Ash, she also works as the marketing director at the Hasbrouck House. We are in awe!

In 2015 Ashley and her husband, photographer: Jeffrey Schad decided to change their city life-style by buying property and moving to upstate, NY. This started as their weekend home, and soon after became a move full-time. The couple instantly fell in love with the sugar maple trees surrounding their property. They started making maple syrup for fun, but then in 2017 they decided to dive in and make their passion project a commercial operation. In 2022, their exquisite syrup was discovered by Oprah as part of Oprah’s Favorite Things

Read on to learn more about the beautiful story behind Laurel & Ash’s journey, values, and lifestyle, and, how Ashley styled her ELEVEN SIX Spring Knitwear edit, photographed on their dreamy, family-farm by her husband Jeffrey.



Can you share your background and how your varied career path in advertising, modeling, being a milliner and marketing consultancy led you and your husband to form Laurel & Ash?

As you mentioned, my career path has been varied, spanning from modeling in my early 20s to art restoration post-college, followed by creative roles at MTV’s World Design Studio and Ogilvy. Additionally, I ventured into entrepreneurship by starting my own millinery business in 2014 (where I initially met Catherine), and then more recently made the transition back to marketing and creative consulting.

Each experience provided me with unique skills and insights that aided in the formation and growth of Laurel & Ash. My time in advertising and marketing taught me the importance of branding, storytelling, and connecting with an audience. My experience as a milliner honed my eye for detail and craftsmanship, while my background in art restoration instilled in me a deep appreciation for heritage and tradition.

When my husband, Jeffrey  and I decided to start Laurel & Ash, we drew upon our combined expertise to create a brand that embodies our shared values of quality, sustainability, and creativity. It's been a journey of discovery and growth, and we're excited to see where it takes us next.


Laurel & Ash were selected to be one of Oprah’s Favorite Things in 2022. How did you get discovered, what was involved in being part of this? Was there a significant impact to your business?

We are incredibly grateful for this experience and the wonderful benefits that came from being selected by the team at Oprah Daily. They discovered us at a makers market in the spring of 2022. We had no idea they had even visited our booth! That year, we had just launched a wooden gift box featuring a large bottle of our best-selling Amber | Rich maple syrup nestled in shaved aspen, and they fell in love with it.

They reached out, asking if we would consider being part of Oprah’s Favorite Things for the holiday season, and we were absolutely floored. Of course, we said yes and produced a limited edition of 600 boxes for the launch. We ended up renovating our entire production facility to meet the demand during that holiday season. The response was overwhelming, with orders pouring in from all over the world.

We decided to self-fulfill on the farm instead of sending the orders to Amazon. We wrapped and hand-numbered every single box ourselves while managing the landslide of orders from our website, thanks to the publicity. We somehow managed all of this with the help of generous family members who stayed with us to care for our son.

We sold more products online in three months than we had in the previous three years combined. It was an incredible experience that led to additional press features, new wholesale accounts, and thousands of new customers. We are forever grateful for this opportunity.



Ashley wears the Iola Crochet Top in Ivory styled with her own jeans. 



What have been the highlights and 
the biggest challenges of running Laurel & Ash?

I think with any small business, there are highs and lows. When we first started out, we were making soaps, growing vegetables, and producing maple syrup. Within a few seasons, we realized that we wanted to focus our energy on creating the best maple products possible. Managing such a wide range of products was stretching us too thin, and we weren't able to excel in any one area.

Over time, we’ve grown organically, adding a few hundred more taps each year, expanding our facilities, and product line—an amount that feels manageable given our time and resources. This gradual expansion has allowed us to maintain high standards for our maple products while also introducing new offerings. This year, we’re excited to add some new products to our lineup, all while continuing to prioritize quality and sustainability in everything we do. By focusing on what we do best, we've been able to refine our processes, enhance our product quality, and grow our business in a way that feels sustainable and gratifying.


Outside of the exquisite maple syrup what other product offerings do you have and are there any other products or business developments in the pipeline you can share? 

This fall, we will be launching a new maple syrup flavor in collaboration with another farm (which we are keeping secret for a few more months) and a pancake mix made from all stone-ground New York State grains. It’s going to be a sweet holiday season!

Last year, we also began construction on a new barn for wood storage and expanded our production and storage facilities. This will help us grow our line of vinegars and, hopefully, provide a space for hosting gatherings, farm dinners, tours, and classes in the future. We're doing much of the construction ourselves, so it’s taking a bit longer than planned to finalize. We’re hoping that is will be worth the wait and a hub for community in the coming years.



Ashley wears the Helene Top + Carrie Tube Skirt in Tomato 




We are intrigued to hear more about what is involved with the Audubon Bird-Friendly Maple Project and how this came about?

This is a wonderfully sweet conservation project between Audubon, Cornell University, and the New York State Maple Producers Association. We are proud to be recognized as New York State’s tenth bird-friendly maple producer for managing our sugarbush—the forest area where maple syrup is produced—in ways that provide more resilient bird habitat.

We have updated our forest management and wildlife habitat plan to include the practices and recommendations from Audubon New York's bird habitat assessment. As a result, we've seen an increased diversity of bird species in our forest. Our focus is not only on creating the most delicious and delightful maple syrup but also on doing so responsibly. We use low-impact harvesting techniques and holistic forest management to promote sustainable sap production, landscape diversity, and a hospitable habitat for birds and other wildlife.

The stewardship of our sugarbush positively impacts not just us but also neighboring forests, wetlands, and bird conservation in the region. Maple syrup production, when done responsibly, can be a model for sustainable food production that also supports healthy habitats for wildlife.

I first heard about the project while listening to ‘Sweet Talk,’ a podcast produced by Cornell Maple Program. I was intrigued and immediately reached out to the head of the program in NY and CT to see how we could adapt our forest management plan and ensure that we are holistically managing our sugarbush for diversity in plant and wildlife.

Customers love asking us about the program at the farmers’ market and we love telling them about it.




Being in business with your life-partner is no easy feat and on top of you both having full time jobs on the side! How do you divide and navigate business with your husband, Jeffrey?

I truly couldn’t have asked for a better partner in life and in business. We both have our strengths and seem to complement each other very well. Jeffrey handles a lot of the physical and operational side of the work, while I focus more on marketing, customer, and vendor relations. We both share the workload in bottling, packaging and order fulfillment. I tend to dream big, and he's great at grounding me and providing a practical perspective.

Both of us come from an art and design background, which means we both have strong opinions when it comes design. This can make new product launches or packaging decisions challenging, but we usually reach a harmonious compromise. Our shared vision for our brand and mutual respect for each other allows us to navigate disagreements and make decisions that benefit the business. We balance each other out and bring out the best in each other, making our partnership both dynamic and rewarding.



Ashley wears the Eleni Stripe Dress  





What parts of your (and your husbands) former career experiences would you say are the most valuable skills for running your Laurel & Ash business?  

I was actually just talking to a friend about this today. I’ve had such a varied career path, but I’ve taken valuable lessons from each experience to help us run our business today. Having my own small business before starting Laurel & Ash taught me a great deal about entrepreneurship, from managing finances to understanding customer needs. It also made me realize that I can be terribly shy when it comes to making sales and that I needed a bit more aggressive tactic for this amazing product.

My background in art and design has been incredibly beneficial for product development and branding. It allows me to create visually appealing products and memorable packaging that resonate with our customers. My experience in marketing has equipped me with the skills to effectively promote our products and build strong relationships with our customers and vendors.

I believe the diverse skills I've acquired throughout my career have been instrumental in the success of Laurel & Ash, helping us to create a business that is both creative, sustainable and efficiently managed.


Your 4-year old son has grown up around the farm and you both bring entrepreneurial. Does he enjoy getting involved in his own way with the farming process? 

This is a wonderful question! Our son loves being involved on the farm and enjoys having a job to do. He has so much energy, which he seems to have inherited from us. He is almost always eager to help and frequently asks what we're doing each day. During sugaring season you’ll find him outside of the sugarhouse in a snowsuit rolling his dump truck through a mud puddle and coming in frequently to ‘test the syrup.’ He’s become our official taste tester. He also loves walking through the orchard and spotting the first apples on the trees or simply watching dad tap maple trees in the forest. He’s so inquisitive and eager to learn. I hope this will instill a strong work ethic in him as he grows older, though I understand that his enthusiasm for chores may wane very soon...



Ashley wears the Arden Crochet Top and Jana Crochet Skirt in Black 




How has moving from the city to live upstate and own your farm full-time transformed you and your families lives?

It was challenging at first, but I wouldn't change our decision for the world. I was definitely a city girl who always appreciated nature and the slower pace of life, but I also loved the excitement and palpable energy of being in New York City. I loved meeting up with girlfriends for a 10pm dinner, then going out dancing at a nightclub, or visiting a museum or attending an art opening. But after almost 20 years in Brooklyn we decided that we wanted a bit of a slower pace and some breathing room. We had no real intention of starting a farm - or a business for that matter. We actually had no idea that we had purchased a property full of maple trees. It was just a very fortuitous fluke and some very good luck.

 Living upstate has provided the perfect environment for our family. We enjoy the tranquility and connection to nature that come with rural life, which has been a true blessing for us. This slower lifestyle has given us the space to breathe, reflect, and grow closer as a family.

 But most importantly, we have developed a wonderful community of like-minded creatives and friends upstate. This new community has been incredibly enriching, providing support, inspiration, and a sense of belonging in an environment that can feel extremely isolating at times. Though we don't visit the city as often anymore, we find comfort in knowing that it's always there at arm's length if we want to pop in whenever we want to see friends, catch a show, or enjoy our favorite restaurants!


How do you like to unwind and relax when you are not juggling a double career?

I absolutely love gardening. I know that sounds like work to most people, but it can be truly relaxing, meditative and a way to disconnect. I love being close to the earth, getting my hands dirty, listening to birds (or whatever is playing through my air pods) and watching plants that I’ve nurtured from seeds transform into an abundant garden. There's something incredibly rewarding about seeing the fruits of my labor flourish and knowing that I've played a part in their growth. Gardening connects me to nature and provides a peaceful escape from my day-to-day behind a computer screen. The last few years my son has also taken an interest in the garden, so it’s a beautiful place for us to connect together and for both of us to enjoy more time outdoors and aways from screens. It’s pretty magical.


What is a series/movie/book you just read or watched that you loved?

 Piet Oudulf At WorkNoma in Kyoto. Both of these books are sitting on my coffee table at the moment and are incredibly inspiring to me.



Ashley wears the Layla Sweater in Neon Lime styled with her own pant




 What does the ELEVEN SIX brand mean to you, which are your favorite pieces and why?

I was first introduced to ELEVEN SIX about six years ago when Catherine and I did a popup trunk show together at a boutique in Soho. I was immediately captivated by her unique designs, unexpected patterns, and her commitment to sustainability within her brand. Catherine’s ethos and elegant designs for Eleven Six are a true inspiration to me.

I’ve always had a special place in my heart for knits, especially sweaters, as my grandmother used to knit each of us grandkids (over 20 in total) a sweater for Christmas. This tradition made sweaters not just a garment but a cherished piece of family history. I shared this story, along with some of Nana’s sweaters, with Catherine for inspiration for this summer’s collection.

One of my favorite pieces is the Ines dress, named after my grandmother Inez. Catherine beautifully interpreted my grandmother’s delicate dress, blending sentimental value with modern elegance. This piece not only represents a connection to my heritage but also embodies the sustainable and thoughtful design that ELEVEN SIX stands for. It’s a perfect example of how fashion can be meaningful, ethical and stylish. I also love the Helene Top and Carrie Skirt knit-set that can be effortlessly styled from day to night.