What’s WRITE about Ashley and Ashleigh

0b0a7436-2We all do it.  We put up inspiring quotes on our instagram feeds, or Facebook statuses.  You know the kind…the ones that say something like, “speak the truth, even if your voice shakes,” and are spray-painted on the sides overpasses or broken down barns.  Then we feel really cool, like we’ve put something fabulous and a little hipster into the world, and we go on with our days.  We talk the talk, but we rarely walk the walk.  We scarcely inconvenience our own lives, or move our own feet enough to be real reflections of our cyber selves.  We’re virtual saints, but nothing about that can actually be felt by human skin.

Just the opposite, however, is true about Be The Change Boutique owners, Ashley and Ashleigh.  When first landing on their website, before taking in the array of cute tops, jewelry, and other odds and ends, a famous Ghandi quote travels the screen.  It reads, “be the change you want to see in the world.”  And in Ashley and Ashleigh’s case, they’ve done it.  They earn the right to tout the well-known phrase every day, and they’re doing so from a tiny shop hidden in a slight-framed cranny on King street.

The two entrepreneurs, who have been besties since sharing a cubby in the first grade, sell merchandise with a mission.  They only carry lines of apparel, accessories, and knick knacks that give back.  They feature lines that provide aid to underprivileged men, women, and children around the globe, right here from the cobblestone streets of Chucktown.  Among their favorite lines is “The Stitch,” a simple $5 roll of distinct orange thread meant to be sewn on clothing items to raise awareness about sexual abuse.  A subject often taboo, the stitch starts a conversation about how important it is for such victims to obtain therapy and support to take their lives back.  Proceeds of “stitch” sales fund counseling for sexually abused people from all walks of life, and was founded by a man who owes his very existence to the recovery he was able to achieve in therapy.  How can we all not want to get behind that?

I first met Ash-ley/leigh duo just before Christmas when they hosted a benefit to collect toys for the children’s hospital at MUSC.  I was humbled by these women immediately, and had to know their story. I asked Ashley number 1 where her inspiration to take on such a project came from.  She passionately told me stories of how she was so affected by the people of Uganda on a trip in her early twenties, and how they use craftsmanship to make money for their communities.  She eagerly praised the other Ashleigh for hopping on a plane at a moment’s notice, and uprooting a life in Maui to start the venture with almost no questions asked.  She spoke of it as though it was a no-brainer for both of them.  You just do good where you see the chance to do it.  But, what I see are two hearts of gold.  Without a profound empathy for others, the loudest calling will never be heard.  If people do not care, they do not respond.  But not with these two; the horn sounded, and they came running with arms open.

I implore this amazing LowCountry community to stand with these women.  Let’s support this boutique when we stroll down King Street.  Let’s not only look fabulous on the outside, but also on the inside.  And let’s do this without the goal of feeling good, but doing good.  Let’s lace up our shoes, lay down the signs, and actually act.  Let our dollars go to educate, elevate, and emancipate.  Ashley and Ashleigh have the lantern in hand, lighting a great path.  They shine brightly, from their hearts over their wallets. The light, so strong, has reached out and warmed my skin, the seeped into, all the way to my heart.

by Lorna Hollifield

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Visit 218 King and see for yourself!

Visit http://www.bethechangeboutique.com

https://www.facebook.com/bethechangeboutique/

 

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The Grown-Up Wedding

     It was about this time of year in 1998, give or take a few weeks…I was 12 at the time, and think I had just kissed a boy for the first time a matter of days before. It was the kind of kiss friends shame you into then watch with intrigue until their turn rolls around.  Strange how thinking about it still reddens my cheeks, but makes me laugh at the same time…

     It was about this time when my second cousin got married in Atlanta.  We drove the 3 1/2 hours to get there, which felt like the road trip of a lifetime to a bored pre-teen. I was excited to see my older cousin, whom I thought was so smart and beautiful, as well as my favorite great-aunt who was always the chic one.  However, I wasn’t so excited to be holed up in a hotel room with my Mom at the time.  I was feeling like such a kid, and I was itching all the time.  I didn’t know for what, but I remember this trip in particular, I wanted to be older.  I wanted it to be exciting.  I didn’t want the usual pleasantries that used to make me smile…my, how’ve you’ve grown…you’re a big girl now…look at those adorable cheeks.  Those were compliments for children, and I could stomach no more of them.

     The wedding was in a gorgeous old house in one of the fabulous districts near downtown Atlanta.  There were servers offering up hors d’oeuvres and champagne in the half enclosed room that smelled like a peach candle I’d once sniffed in the lobby of a hotel at the beach. It was dusk thirty, and the winds ushered in the southern spring air that was perfumed just enough.  Everyone wore fancy dresses, and the band played something I later heard while watching Casablanca. I was at an adult wedding, and that I liked.  I also like the dress I was wearing, which almost gave me an A-cup.

     My mother let me have a sip of her champagne and I wasn’t sure if I thought she was the best mom in the world or she was now going straight to hell for what she’d done.  But hey…I got champagne, and was starting to feel like one of the real people.  I started floating around the room, eyeing the crowd, looking for someone to charm with my sudden dose of confidence…and then found him at one of the food tables.

     The boy from Vancouver was a relative of the groom, and an usher in the wedding.  I’d noticed he was handsome during the ceremony, and had also noticed he was way too old for me.   I’m sure I lingered at the food table to get a better look at him, not dreaming he’d speak.  He turned around and peeked over his shoulder at me.

     “You, know, you look like Britney Spears,”  he flashed a white smile.

     “You know, I’ve heard that,” I tried to be cool, surprised I had even spoken back.

     We went on to talk for several minutes, and I was acutely aware it was because he was talking to me…I hadn’t just followed him around like a lost puppy.  He was an older boy talking to me…probably the first time I’d been noticed in this way. He wasn’t being creepy, and certainly kept his distance…after all, he was 16.  We both knew it.  I got the feeling though that he wished I’d been just a little older, which then, was all I needed to feel special.

     My mother and Aunts chuckled at my obvious crush I tried to hide when back at our table. They’d been watching me yacking away from afar, amused at this side they’d never seen.  They were careful to needle me about it only just enough.

     I spoke to Vancouver a couple more times…then in an instant I was back with my mother; it was time to leave, and it scared me.  I felt connected to this other human in some way, but I was a 12 year old headed back to North Carolina.  He was a 16 year old headed back to Canada.  My mother told me to go say bye, but I decided not to and followed her outside.  I heard a whistle from behind me.

     “See ya later, Britney,”  he called out.

     I smiled and threw my hand up as casually as I could make it look, and walked away like it was nothing.  Although I had a strange gut-wrenching feeling that first showed-up that night too.

      Back at the hotel my cousins and I went night swimming, and I’ll never forget how big the moon was shining down on the pool.  It was a sticky, steamy night, and I felt like the air I was living in.  Somehow the look of that moon, though…it gave me hope…maybe I’d see that boy again.  Maybe I’d find others like him.  But then, and just then, I realized I was growing up, and it had never been so exciting.  I could hear my cousin yell out, “Marco,” but for me, there’d be no “Polo.”

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     And I never saw him again.  He was a flicker of a moment at a grown-up wedding that with but a few sentences let me know it was time to come of age a little bit.  To that, at now 28 and happily married, I still smile.