August 13 – Valdosta – Ashley Cook has always had an interest in fashion. People always complimented her style but she never thought she would follow that passion.
Cook has a degree in business administration, which has led her to work as a business administration instructor at Wiregrass.
One of the classes she taught included a workshop on small business development, and she said she began to entertain the idea.
In 2020, Cook launched her online boutique, Oh She Fancy Boutique.
She stores all her items in her garage and ships her orders from her home using parcels and an online storefront.
Her oldest daughter Layla, 16, helps package orders.
“She was a big part of it in the beginning. My daughters are the reason I want to own a business because it gives me an opportunity to leave something behind and lead by example,” Cook said.
In the year In 2021, Cook plans to open her first storefront in Valdosta.
On the morning of her grand opening, she never imagined a house fire.
Cook said she remembers the day well.
She said, “We spent Thanksgiving at my mom’s house and on Black Friday I went out to get the store ready for my grand opening. The next morning I came home from the store. I only had two hours to go home. I went to bed around 2:30 in the morning.”
She continued, “The funny thing is that my house had a split floor plan, so my room was on the opposite side of my son’s room. But when I walked in, I slept in the guest room bed next to my son. I woke up to the sound of the exhaust and the carbon monoxide detector, and I jumped out, and the back porch was on fire. I saw it was in flames.
Cook said she ran out the front door to grab her daughters Layla, Lauren, 13, and Landry, 8. After leaving the front door, she and her daughters realized their dog, Macy, was trapped inside.
Cook said, “When we sat in our neighbor’s yard and watched our house burn, it was terrifying. I was heartbroken and in disbelief … there were so many emotions.”
Because of the fire, Cook had planned to miss her grand opening the following day on Black Friday, but received encouraging words of support from her mother and friends and family.
Her mom and her best friend jumped into action to get the store together and get everything ready for the grand opening.
“Everybody came together and helped me. There was an outpouring of love from the community … a lot of people prayed for me, donated and bought,” Cook said. “It was destined. God sent the devil to destroy me. He worked for my good. I was able to push through… I don’t know how, but I’m grateful.
“My boutique is the service … I’ve made a lot of connections since I’ve helped a customer – I can pour into them – helping women feel beautiful.”
Last April, Oh She Fancy Boutique donated to Chanel’s Beautiful Creations to give a young woman the promotion of her dreams. In this case, Cook found a way to do business and give back to the community.
“I want to let women know that you can be ‘Fancy’ when you restart your life,” Cook said. “I want to teach women empowerment through credit, budgeting, interviewing and life skills.”
She’s trying to start a non-profit organization, partnering with women’s shelters, churches, etc. to donate old items and help women get inspired.
“That fire had to happen,” Cook said. “It was determined and the purpose was to show others how to be a vessel.”
Ohh She Fancee Botique is located at 1723 Norman Drive or online at www.ohhshefance.com.