Saving Dogs, One Knit Bikini at a Time
Still looking for that perfect swimsuit but don’t want your hard-earned bucks going to a company that hurts animals in the name of fashion? Meet Ashley Paige: bikini designer, animal rescuer, and founder of Ruff Houzen Rescue.
This down-to-Earth designer is taking the swimsuit world by storm with her creations. Her designs are highly sought after by celebrities and have graced the cover of the much coveted Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. Ashley also has her own reality show, Bikini or Bust, which airs Saturdays at 11 a.m. Eastern Time on TLC and gives fashion fans an intoxicating glimpse into her world of design, business, family, and, you guessed it, her love for animals! To ensure that Bikini or Bust gets picked up for a second season, you can e-mail the network at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out their Web form here.
See for yourself just how fab Ashley is. Check out the interview that she just did with PETA. Here she is in her own words.
As a fur-free fashion designer, what do you think of designers who continue to work with fur—sometimes even on bikinis?
They truly disgust me.
What has been the best part about running Ruff Houzen, your animal rescue group? Has there been a particularly memorable rescue?
When people who have adopted animals from me and bring them by to visit, it’s so adorable that I can’t help but think back to when I first rescued them. Sometimes it makes me cry. I’m “sensitive,” I’m year of the dog. I have so many memorable stories, here’s two:Memorable story 1One day my boyfriend was coming down hard on me for bringing too many strays home. Later that same day he called and said, “I just spent the last hour chasing a little ‘mangy’ mutt all over Sunset Blvd.” I laughed and said, “Well, did you catch him?” and he said, “Yes, he’s sitting in my lap!” Funny how passion persuades!!! Memorable story 2So I eventually got a new boyfriend, who was much more supportive of my love for rescuing animals. He also happens to be year of the dog, like me. One morning, a little stray dog decided to play chase with us in the center divider line during rush hour morning traffic. I was in a bikini and Alek was wearing only his underwear. After we managed to catch the little “wild” dog, we slowly let traffic continue and thanked everyone for stopping. One woman rolled her window down and commented, “How cute!” I couldn’t help but wonder if she was talking about the dog or my new boyfriend.
You say your favorite breed of dog is the mutt. Why is that?
I’m against breeding and selling animals, and puppy mills break my heart. People who showcase their purebreds to better their image are such sad, delusional people. The Mutt is humble, and I believe the world could use more humble people!
Your mom seems like such a sweet, caring woman. Did she influence your love for animals? Did your family have companion animals when you were growing up?
When I was a little girl, my mom would always bring home strays, but we lived in an abusive home where she could never keep them for long. It angered me for many reasons, and I would always tell myself, when I grow up, I’m going to have a house full of animals that need a loving home. And I did!
What animals do you share your home with now?
I have 8 dogs and 2 cats, but it fluctuates, between successful adoptions and “rescued newbies.” My permanent guests include a Pit/Wiener dog mix named Petunia, a Senior Shepherd named Cali, a Wiener dog named “The Flying Peeing Weiner,” and a feral cat that lives under my bed named Crazy Eyes!
What advice would you give to somebody who’s looking to adopt a dog?
Adopt two! Haha, no really, it’s usually much easier for both you and your rescues. Remember, dogs like to be in a pack and they get lonely when you’re not around. Just make sure you’re the pack leader!
Do you frequent any of the vegetarian restaurants in L.A.? Have any favorites?
There’s a great little Thai vegan restaurant right by my shop named the Vegan House on Wilcox. They even make vegan sushi, one of my favorites. And my boyfriend likes Real Food Daily on La Cienega, which specializes in raw.
We love Bikini or Bust. Can you tell us what’s coming up on the show?
The final episode is me having to choose between a corporate apparel job or sticking it out at “my little company that could.” I announce my decision during pet adoptions in my store. You guys probably could guess the answer … but make sure to tune in.
What are your ideas for next season?
I am praying for a second season, but the new president has not given us a green light yet. I know how important it is to stay on the “boob tube” as long as possible, for the animals. If we do get it, you bet there will be a great anti-fur demonstration in NYC during Fashion Week, lots of dramatic animal rescue, and probably some friendly fashion thrown in there somewhere. Oh—and as for mom, she’s planning a cross country road trip with Spring Louisee to pick up maw and paw paw to bring them out to California. So let’s do the math, 5 people, 8-10 dogs, 2-5 cats, and hopefully a camera crew of about 30.
Ashley often uses the spotlight to draw attention to animal rescue. In fact, this Saturday’s episode of Bikini or Bust is all about the canines! We’ll definitely be tuning in for some puppy love—and you should too! Don’t forget to catch the show and let TLC know that this compassionate show deserves a spot on television.
Written by Jennifer Cierlitsky