Pam Dudding Contributing
Dreams, wishes or just sheer determination, along with loving encouragement, have a way of bringing out the best in people, and Ashley All is a young woman who is proving that. Overcoming abuse and wanting to help other young ladies is her life’s newfound vision.
Opening her doors to her new business, OutLaw Creations, a custom craft and antique store, has also opened the door for herself, allowing healing to come to her heart and spirit, while creating artwork that many are coming to enjoy.
“The way I came up with the name is where I enjoy making new things that some are afraid to attempt,” Ashley shared. “Also, I used to be a little Rebel, so using the name OutLaw Creations doesn’t limit me, plus makes it unique for each customer.”
All, 32, has been creating for about a year-and-a-half.
Not long ago, her “pawpaw” (Russell Sarver) helped her to make a headstone for her daddy.
“When he saw what I could do, he said, ‘Wow, I did not know you were that talented. You need to start a business for yourself,’ and coming from my pawpaw, that was huge,” she said.
She has two boys, Kaingston and Kainan. “They are very talented. My oldest has art class at the Jefferson Center. He is just in third grade and they picked his art to display,” All said.
“They are my top little dudes in being my strong support right now. My kids actually encouraged me to start the business, saying, “You’re good at that mommy!” and “No other mommies in school can do that.”
She added two other great supporters, Stacy and Sydney, who encourage her.
“Ashley is a single mom, taking care of two boys, eight and eleven years old, and lost her job (at the hospital) because of COVID-19,” Stacy Lucas shared. “She was really talented doing the crafts she does and said she would like to get started in selling them, so I told her if that’s something she really wanted to do then that’s what she should do. She wasn’t sure how to make it work so I told her I would help her in any way I could, so I let her set up in my shop to get started.”
“Stacy helps me a lot,” Ashley said. “He still works on friends’ vehicles, and does everything from siding and roofing to cars. He’s Mr. Do-It-All. He definitely helped me when I was trying to do things on my own. I felt if it stayed together, I was excited, but he would say, ‘This would be so much easier if you would just do it this way and then knock it out in no time.’”
“It’s not about the sale for me, it’s about spreading love, joy, happiness and support especially during a time the world needs it the most,” Ashley added. “I’ve wanted to share my story for a long time but was always afraid. But due to new-found faith and peace, I’m ready, even if it helps save just one.”
Ashley grew up in Craig but moved away when she was 17.
She dealt with sexual, emotional and physical abuse off and on for several years.
“There are a lot of people out here that are being abused and if my story helps one person, it is so worth it,” she shared with emotion. “My abuse started before I reached my tenth birthday.”
She added that later in life, she became a little rebel.
“When I took off at age 17, I was skipping school, running non-stop and regularly fighting because I was standing up for kids who were being picked on. In my eyes back then, I thought if it helped them, it was good. So, I got kicked out of school a bit (noting that she considered it a free vacation).”
Stacy added, “She has had a hard time in life, and I want to help her change that and be the wonderful woman she is for herself and her family. Encouragement goes a long way to help people pursue what they want in life and I hope that it helps her and more.”
Ashley explained that she has “calmed down a lot now” and has found “my new faith and peace with myself.”
“One day I got in my car and just decided I need to drive and went to Low Water Bridge and just sat in my vehicle,” she shared. “I got the craziest feeling that with everything I had gone through in my life, all was now going to be ok. I had sort of questioned God and wondered why all this happened to me. If there was a God, then he didn’t protect me and so I didn’t have any faith anymore.”
Since then, her story has changed.
“Though He didn’t allow those things to happen to me, I know He was going to help me through it,” she added. “Now I know God’s got me and put me here on this earth for a reason.”
Ashley shared that after abuse, it’s easy to build walls and have major trust issues, that sometimes, your “love factor” doesn’t know which way to go and you become unsure of who to believe.
“There’s nothing wrong with standing up for yourself, having a voice and then knowing that you are not alone,” expressed All with great sincerity.
Therefore, her healing is now coming through her creating.
“Once I had my babies, I decided that I wanted to come back where I was raised, where morals were important,” Ashley noted.
She continued, “My vision for my business is to grow to the point of hiring other survivors whom lives were affected by unforeseen circumstances. I suffer from PTSD due to years of sexual, mental, physical, emotional and economic abuse, so my journey to this point has been a tough one.”
Stacy shared that when he noticed her starting to bloom in her creativity, he asked if she wanted to keep going and said, “I told her we would put the shop in separate for her store because I knew she could make it work and would be good at what she was doing.”
Now, when you drive up to her shop, the welcoming art placed outside starts telling her story and the stroll throughout it awakens one’s creativity and imagination.
The “custom” is a part of her shop that is most important to her, and she has an area set up so that even her customers can craft something if they like.
She also has a little bench for kids, where they can make and customize their own bracelet charm or keychain.
Her artwork began on a small table, but Stacy quickly fixed her a custom area to create her treasures. He then creatively placed an old cars’ exterior up on its side to separate its areas.
Here, she shared, is where she creates special orders for her customers.
“Craig is a great place, and I would like for them to know her shop is not just for her, it’s for Craig,” Stacy said. “Also, she has a lot of interesting items and crafts and does custom designs for people. She really wants to help the community grow.”
Customers give Ashley pictures of their animals and she replicates them. She had a set of cut-out life-size hound dogs which had been painted to specification, along with a bear it was chasing to show.
Her inventory also includes mailboxes that look like a deer, zebra and other animals and they even have the legs and a tail if one wishes.
“It’s something I enjoy, and it really helps me,” she said.
She began with a few little hand-held tools, but added, “Stacy lets me use his things. He has anything you can imagine and is actually teaching me how to weld now.”
They were going to take down the old metal rails the garage doors were on, but left them, allowing her to hang baskets on them. “It gives the shop a special sense of character that reminds me of Stacy”, she said.
“What I love the most about my business is getting to talk to people,” Ashley said. “I could talk all day long. I am just that little happy and chipper person who use to work at the hospital. So, if me smiling, though I may be dying inside, can help make a sick person feel better, that was what I did at Roanoke Memorial for five years.”
“I really want to help people whose lives have been affected to the point to where they may now have a record, though it wasn’t really their fault and can’t get a good decent paying job,” she said. “I hope to give them the opportunity to work here and help them help me, and we all just help each other.”
Ashley has already met some who have had similar history, befriended them and had them crafting and they said it helped them.
“For me, if there’s something bothering me that day, as soon as I put myself into something, it makes me feel better,” she added.
OLC accepts cash, checks, PayPal and CashApp for now. They are open Monday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Ashley loves it when people give her customer orders.
“We sell handcrafted wood art, antiques and vintage items, jewelry, and candles,” Ashley said. “Being able to help others smile by a piece of art means the world to me. Meeting new people and hearing their stories is what I look forward to the most.”
Stacy concluded, “I feel like it is starting to come together for her, and she really wants to help the community and hopes she can make it grow. She is such an amazing woman, and I will keep encouraging her to pursue what she wants to make of it. She really loves Craig County and the people in it.”