Get ready to Meet the Makers … of the coolest fashion and home goods in town, that is. In this occasional series, we take you into the workshops of the creators behind that stuff you’ve been coveting.
Ashten Houpt’s profession was likely never on her high-school guidance counselor’s list of possibilities. “I get people drunk for a living,” says Ashten Houpt, 24, the girl behind Get Flasky. Her line of classy, sassy, Indy-centric, sultry, sometimes naughty booze purveyors has taken the city by the storm—you’ve seen them on the shelves of hip boutiques and in the pockets of the cool crowd for a year. Here’s how Houpt got them there—and where she’s going next.
Where are you from?
Zionsville. I went to Zionsville High School, and then I went to Herron School of Art.
Where did the idea for flask-making come from?
I was going to Herron, and I had gone through a divorce. Since he was a doctor, he couldn’t go out to bars. So I had never been out to a bar, and I was 22. I started going out with my friends and I was like “God, this is really expensive.” I really like liquor drinks, so my friend said, “Oh, just make a flask.” I went to the liquor store and bought a stainless-steel flask. Then I went to Michaels, got scrapbooking paper and Sharpies, and I went to work. It had pink and purple and yellow paisley. It’s much different than what I make now. I took a picture and put it on Facebook and Instagram, and people asked where I got it. I told them I just made it. I was working at IndySwank at the time with the creative director, and she said I should sell them in there. I put 10 on the shelves, and they sold out the first night. Then I put them on Facebook, and within a month they were in 10 stores. Now we’ve been sold in 47 stores, and we’re going to be an exhibitor next week at the biggest retail trade show in the world.
Is that the one in Vegas?
Yeah, it’s called Magic. It’s insane.
Where are you going to go from here?
We’re just really focusing on the flasks. There are 65,000 buyers that come to Magic, so we have the potential of picking up an Urban Outfitters or something large like that.
What’s your best-selling design?
Overall, we have one with an American flag and a blonde pinup girl on it. We based our first commercial off of that. For Indiana, I have one that says “This is Indiana,” and one of the “I”s is the state of Indiana. United State of Indiana is one of our bigger sellers, too.
Where are some of the places your flasks are sold, and for how much?
The retail is always $28, and they’re sold at Retro 101, all the Delaney’s Shoppes, Niche Boutique, Boomerang Boutique, Homespun. So there’s a few just in Indy.
The Indianapolis artisan scene is getting a bit more crowded lately. Is it harder to stand out?
I can walk down the street and most people know who I am or what I do, so I don’t think it’s been a problem. I think it’s just been staying public and staying part of the community. And I don’t think it’s necessarily getting crowded. We can only be something bigger than ourselves if we all work together. If there’s more here, more people are going to want to come here and shop here and go out to events.
Do you keep a flask on you at all time?
Yes, but I don’t keep it full because I think it would be really embarrassing to get caught at a bar and get my flask confiscated. I always buy at bars. I encourage my friends to buy at bars because we sell to a lot of bars.
What’s your flask look like?
I coordinate to my outfits.
What’s your personal favorite flask?
It’s really hard because I literally design all of them. My favorite one is actually “Treat Your Girl Right” (Editor’s Note: That design is NSFW-ish … unless you work at Get Flasky). The one that’s appropriate is the one with the blue owl on a red background. I don’t know why, I’ve always just loved that one.
What’s the weirdest custom-design request you’ve had?
Oh my God. There’s one weird one that I really like. Gym41 is a local gym, and an WNBA player named Tully [Bevilaqua; now retired] and her girlfriend Lindsay run it. For Christmas, Tully got her girlfriend one that says Gym41, but on the back it has Miley Cyrus on a wrecking ball as a white silhouette. I love it.
You work around 18 hours a day.
Yesterday was 22.
What do you do for fun? Do you have any free time?
This is fun. When you own a business and it’s your child, you’re so obsessed with it and you are your brand. My fun is honestly going to Jay Z’s afterparty and networking there. We just saw it on Twitter. We got to the door and they asked us if we were on the list. I told them no, but they said, “Okay, go in.” And we walked past all the security guards and all the VIPs. We just walked up to the area, and there he was. We were two feet away. It was so cool. And then we met people who wanted to buy flasks. It’s a given that when you own a flask company, you’re selling to drunks. So you get to go out a lot. I get to write off going to bars as a business expense.
You’ve traveled a lot for your job. Do you like Indianapolis best of all?
Not only is it home, but it’s a great hub for entrepreneurs. Nothing makes me not want to be here, but I think we’ve hit our market and we need to go to other places. We’re keeping our distribution and manufacturing here, and it will always be home, but we will probably be traveling full-time for the entire year. We’re going to Vegas, L.A., San Francisco, Palm Springs. We’re vending at large events. I don’t think we’ll call anywhere else home, but I need to be stimulated by other people doing similar things, and I think to stay on trend, we have to be out researching people and things and places and making connections. I just met with someone for a TV show on Bravo in San Francisco, and I just shot a commercial out in San Francisco, and I went to New York for inspiration, so I think it’s important to not stay in one place. … People tell me (traveling) is too expensive, but you just don’t go shopping. Instead, buy a plane ticket for New York for $200 and stay in a hostel. We’re staying at Airbnb the entire time we’re in L.A. so we can stay in really nice places for $40 a night. I think it’s just finding ways to make it work.