Boutique NINE BY ASH offers an immersive Western experience in Katonah
In one way or another, we are all influenced by the fashion industry—even picking out what clothes to wear in the morning make us a part of it. But Ashley Belizze is much more involved in the fashion industry than most. The North Salem High School alum (‘08) owns NINE BY ASH, a Western-inspired boutique in Katonah.
After opening in September 2021, NINE has quickly gained popularity for its Western clothing and warm and welcoming atmosphere. Inspired by old Western films, the cowboy lifestyle, the desert landscape, Native American culture, Navajo designs, and the craftsmanship of true artisans, Belizze crafted a “full-fledged desert oasis” in her store. With the help from her boyfriend James Damson, Belizze created an entire Southwestern experience, filling her store with candles and incense, authentic pieces from the West, and cacti growing throughout. “There are odes to the West everywhere you look,” Belizze said. “My vision was to create a warm and inviting space where people felt comfortable shopping as if they were in their own home.”
“I have always taken fashion seriously,” Belizze said, when asked what inspired her to open NINE. “I found it so important to always be well dressed and look put together.” Even in high school, Belizze always dressed to impress. She won the “Best Dressed” senior superlative, an honor that her father and brother also won during their graduating years. “I think everyone has a calling in their life and owning a clothing store was definitely mine,” said Belizze. The risk and challenges in opening NINE were tempered by the idea that owning her own clothing store “would be magical.”
Belizze admits that being a business owner can be a “roller coaster of emotions at times.” Knowing when to order merchandise or predicting what is going to sell can be a “mind game” but Belizze is thankful to have a strong support system of friends and family members that have supported her from day one. “The loyal community in Katonah and the surrounding towns have such a powerful impact on the way I work and operate,” Belizze said. They fuel her motivation to work a seven-day work-week and desire to always keep things changing. And although she feels that this part in her journey has been the most challenging yet, Belizze believes that the rewards are definitely worth the hard work and effort.
At NINE, Belizze emphasizes selling unique and specialty handmade pieces rather than products with large branding behind them. She also tends to stay away from fast-fashion trends because she believes that classic staples are much better investments. For Belizze, fashion does not always equate to high-end clothes or designer couture. Instead, she is a firm believer in effortless style and in wearing clothes with confidence. “To me, fashion ultimately means making your wardrobe speak to your personality. Why not dress for who we are as individuals?”