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Meet Ashlee Villanueva

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ashlee Villanueva.

Hi Ashlee, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
It all started when I decided to get sober January 23rd, 2021. I had just left a toxic long-term relationship and had moved in with my parents. During this period of recovery, I suffered through a lot of stress and essentially an existential crisis. I was in a really dark place in my life. I even developed severe plaque psoriasis all over my face and body…it was horrible. I still have it now but it’s much calmer. It was difficult during those days though…balancing recovery, my health, just existing was distressing. I had anxiety and depression to the point where I had to call the suicide prevention hotline. I was eventually enrolled into a mental health program and things got a lot better. Through time I started to stabilize and realize I still had a lot of life to live and that it wasn’t too late to make my old dreams come true. For years on end, I had this dream of trying to make it in fashion and art and it never worked out because I was never in a good place. I was always too out of my mind to really pull anything off correctly.

However, in my heart I felt like this time would be different because I was no longer in a toxic environment or constantly altering my mind. So I jumped in, I quit my crappy job and started promoting myself and my services on social media. My business is still very young but I’ve been very busy! I am working with a drag queen and two singers from the local punk scene. Slowly new clients are trickling in! I work out of my bedroom where I have all my machines set up and soon, I will be holding a fundraiser to help fund the equipment needed for both of my growing careers. I now have two baby businesses getting off the floor and running. Gutter Glitter Shop which is my sewing business and Gutter Glitter Art which is all about photography and photo booths for events.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I think my biggest challenge was building self-esteem and truly believing that I was worthy of having a dream. I always say it’s important to have the audacity to dream even through really bad times. Even when you think you really messed up…when you think you are just trash…it’s important not to listen to those lies you tell yourself…never forget you are worth it. No matter how hard you’ve hit rock bottom, you too can have that audacity to dream and imagine yourself someplace better. It’s important always to build a clear vision so that when things get hard again (because they will, no ones life is happy 24/7) you can close your eyes and see that dream. I may not have substances or alcohol to escape life anymore…but I have something better! Frankly, I get high off my own dreams now.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I’m most proud of my Lucy costume (from the movie Dracula). A lot of innovation and love went into making it come to life. But mostly, I am truly proud and even overjoyed for never ever leaving this world. I’m proud of myself for always fighting even when I had nothing left in me. I’m proud of myself for tapping into the little girl still inside of me that had these gigantic dreams of creating art and living off of it. 15 years of altering my mind and all the mental turmoil that came with it never ever took her from me. She’s still in me and now I’m focusing on filling her constantly with a sense of euphoria.

Alright, so to wrap up, is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
I’m having a benefit show February 19, 2022 to fundraise money for photo equipment, there will be a fashion show and also a photo booth. I will be debuting my Gemini collection (yes, I’m a Gemini) for the first time as Gutter Glitter Shop. This collection will essentially be the start of my shop era where I will be able to vend and also take orders for original work I’ve designed and created. I’m really excited about this! And one more thing: Never give up on yourself. You never know what’s around the corner for you…things can change in the blink of an eye. I started this year a total mess…and now I’m making my own dreams a reality…I’m not special…I truly believe anyone can do this with the right determination and support.

Follow my work on @gutterglittershop & @gutterglitterart.

And if you’d like to learn more about my personal journey with recovery and health whilst building this empire and obsessing over my dog, feel free to follow my personal page: @guttterglittter (with three t’s)

Contact Info:

Image Credits

Photo credits to: Jazmine Paniagua of Secret Oasis and Luis Arrendondo aka Anya Body

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