As a child you never know that your surroundings, people, and experiences will shape you to become the person you are later. I grew up in Bogalusa, LA and when I was in the 3rd or 4th grade we moved to Baton Rouge. This is going to sound so crazy but before I moved to Baton Rouge I wasn't familiar with anything Cajun or Creole. My town where I grew up was more of a southern country vibe. I will never forget. I can remember somebody told me they were cooking dirty rice and I automatically freaked out. I had no idea that the rice wasn’t actually dirty but all these new cajun dishes were being introduced to me and I just remembered it all being so new. Of course as I learned more about the history of Louisiana it all came together and I realized we are one big melting pot with lots of rich culture and history. Bogalusa will always be special to me because running around with my shoes off, playing in the grass, feeling free in the stillness of the country is something I'll never take for granted. Growing up I played by myself a lot because I didn't have a sibling and I can tell you now I think that's why I have such a big imagination and a wild craving for nature.
My love from where I come from is just heavily engrained in me. Of course I have traveled and seen some amazing places that I would love to live but there is nothing to me like a sunset on the bayou with some crawfish and daiquiris. Heauxm will always have my heart.
Now let’s talk about how I can call myself a cowgirl now lol. Moving to Texas was the biggest culture shock of my life, point black period. I had the hardest time accepting that I was no longer in Louisiana and that things are just going to be different. The food is number one. Like ain’t no seafood out here okay, not like home. I'm eating tacos now not crawfish ettoufee and fried catfish with a hushpuppy on the side. Then I had to adjust to people not speaking. At home it’s normal for us to say hello or smile and be causal with one another. In Dallas people don't really do that if you ask me. Southern hospitably is real people and I had to learn to stop speaking to people because they will keep on walking and not say anything. It was always something to be mad or complain about and eventually I learned to embrace where I was. Like get over it Ashtin you have to become a cowgirl. So instead of me being negative Nancy about this situation I did what I do best. I became curious enough to learn about my surroundings, the people and the new place I where I was living, Texas. Then while working at JCPenney I met Vanessa.
She will always tell me the first time she noticed me it was for what I had on. That let me know right then and there she was into fashion. Then boom, we hit it off. I was so happy because she was Latina and I love learning about other cultures. I don’t appropriate, I appreciate and there is a difference people. If I’m interested in someone’s culture, I want to learn everything I possibly can and you just wait one day my Spanish gone be on point!!! After learning that she was into fashion I started to bring her in on some of the projects that I would be working on and I was like hold on wait a minute. Where did you get these clothes ma? Vanessa would always have some banging clothes on or bringing some bomb ass thrift pieces and I would be stunned. Wasn't long before I got the chance to see her golden palace of a closet and I was literally blown away. We're not talking one closet we talking the whole house is a living breathing vintage thrift museum. I can't even find a way to describe it but after going through what seemed like room after room of items I coined her the "Latina Iris", she really is.
This beautiful vintage Stanley Korshak dress and shearling fur coat paired with gold and bronze metals and cowboy hat are all items that Vanessa has been gifted or thrifted herself. This timeless vintage dress was given to her by her mother. I will never forget the first time I saw her pull it out and the train fell out from the bottom. It literally took my breath away because before I even tried it on I could tell there was a story behind the dress. Which made it even more special that as we became closer friends she would choose me to model her mother's dress. Each time we would bring up “the dress “we would always be on the same page that it had to be like an iconic moment for us. We wanted this to be memorable and moving.
Vanessa continues to surprise me with her talented ability to personal shop, style and thrift. She finds pieces you can't get your hands on and finds quality luxury and vintage items. Someday she will open her own shop. Someway, somehow and when she does people you want to be the first one in line to see what amazing and beautiful timeless fashion pieces she has to offer. I am truly greatful to call her my friend and I'm glad we both have a drive and passion to have artistic creative careers.