A Homemaker Mentor
From the beginning of Dollar Store Style, it has been my hope that people with limited decorating budgets would be encouraged that they can have an attractive home without spending big bucks.
Meet Ash Greymane, a self-proclaimed career-housewife from Kentucky who has spent the last several years being a mentor in the art of homemaking to young women with limited resources.
“I’m 45, a mother of two boys, and have been a sort of surrogate mom-slash-domestic skills tutor to any number of young women over the years,” Ash told me. She estimates the number at about two dozen, usually young women, but there have been exceptions. “The oldest person I was able to help was in her fifties,” Ash says. “By the time I meet them, they are usually depressed; the house is a shambles; they’ve forgotten what the term “make-up” even means, and so forth.”
“There is typically one basic problem keeping them from moving forward in life, often involving a pattern of thinking and self-image,” she says. “The girls usually think they can’t possibly make a nice home without buying expensive things that typically don’t last anyway. Once you break through that mental block about shopping at dollar stores, they are very happy to be able to get things they need at these stores.”
The first thing Ash does with a new girl is to instruct her to take pride in her own appearance. “I tell them, ‘Go clean up and fix your hair’,” Ash says. She understands that, if you don’t feel good about the way you look, it’s hard to become enthusiastic about anything else. After a girl has learned how to wear make-up or at least tidy herself up every day, as Ash emphasizes, they move on to cleaning the house.
Most girls believe they can’t afford the cleaning supplies they need until Ash shows up on their doorstep with a month’s worth of brand name cleaning stuff from the dollar store that costs less than twenty bucks. She never asks to be paid back. “I tell them, ‘Pay me back by using it’,” she says.
“After we have remembered what a clean house feels like and that we can afford to keep it that way, we work on home décor,” says Ash, “One of my earliest lessons with my girls is to give them $5.00 and tax. The challenge is to get as much as they can for that five bucks that is relevant and useful to their life.”
“Typically, they have more trouble making up their minds what to get than finding enough things under that amount. There are a lot of “niceties” at the dollar store, and even more can be made using what we find there, with ingenuity, common sense, and some great ideas we might find on (websites like Dollar Store Style.)”
I asked Ash how she came to be a mentor to so many girls. “I think I drifted into it, mainly,” she says, “I began to realize I had picked up knowledge over the years that, for whatever reason, my small group of friends hadn’t. I shared what I knew because it’s awful not to know what to do and to be embarrassed to ask anyone else. I hate ignorance. I hate even more seeing young folks doing without when it really is unnecessary.”
Offers of help are usually taken one of two way, says Ash. “They either apologize to everyone for their perceived inadequacies or they are defensive and belligerent to everyone for the same reason. Once they trust I’m only here to be a friend — not waltz in, be Lady Bountiful and fix them — they get more receptive to doing some things differently. I have to prove myself, too, each and every time.”
“By the time we are done or nearing done, they feel better, are more confident and are usually letting me know my suggestions are not needed. I hate that part because I know my little chick will be moving on. But that’s the whole point.”
Ash doesn’t charge for her help and she doesn’t go looking for ‘projects.’ “Usually, about the time one of my young friends is feeling much better about her ability to manage, another person or two pops up unexpectedly. Mainly I just meet them by chance,” she says.
Ash believes that what we do does make a difference in our world. “I have been taught that a sound home is the foundation for success in life. This is probably the real reason it pains me to see people doing without when they don’t have to,” she says. Ash sums it up this way: “Be proud of your home, who you are and what you are achieving.”