See Me, Move Me, Feel: Part 2
Blendia Arie: Miss Sweeney Todd of L.A.
I have known Ashley since our high school days. In a time where young minds were trying to cope with their insecurities and impress fake friends, it seemed that Ashley already has an idea of who she was; different, a creative, an old but strangely new soul. She doesn't know this, but I can remember the first day I saw her. We both were walking in the hallways, maybe on our way to class, when I noticed her coming towards me going in the opposite direction. I didn't quite know what I was feeling at the moment, but her energy was different. It was strong, sure, and self-aware. Qualities I have required yet. She rocked a black Mohawk, slouched, harem pants, dark layers of scarves and an oversize sweater. She made walking down a slippery stone hallway in high heels look so fucking easy. This girl wore her fit and confidence so well, til' this day I can remember the "I don't give two fucks!" expression stamped on her face. I don't quite remember when we became cool, but I thought it was crazy that we did because I admired her so much. So here we are. Here she is… Ashley "BlendiaArie" Betts.
Ashley Betts was raised in Cleveland, Ohio alongside her older sister. She was raised in a two-parent household who loved her very much. However, something was missing. Even though Ashley had the love of her parents, she didn't quite have their understanding of who she was. As a former teenager, I can tell you first hand, there is nothing more depressing than having family members who do not understand you. Like, the REAL you. As she grew up, she became interested in embracing her artistic values. The art world welcomed her with open arms as she began to express herself through fashion and drawing.
Fast forward to high school where I met Ashley, she was already proficient at drawing. She used to carry around a sketchbook with all her past and recent ideas for clothing and amazing doodles. Surprisingly, she drew in such a way that I have never seen before. In my opinion, her pieces were original and I was immediately intrigued by her artistic abilities. I remember she started drawing celebrities for a while, which seemed pretty hard for her but you couldn't tell. Unlike the usual mistakes for most beginners (like matching eyes and a realistic chin) she already mastered it. However, her true form of art didn't shine through unless she was drawing something she wanted; from her own imagining. The mixtures of fictional people with a punk-rock, authentic state of being intertwined with a vigorous, ghostly glow were all less than enchanting. Her characters were all different different colors and shapes. They were like aliens in my eyes. Maybe Ashley was from another planet.
After high school, she kept drawing, but as life would have it, she found interest in other areas to create with her hands. She thought she wanted to become a D.J. but that didn't stick for too long. Being a true artist was calling her name. Everyone around her loved her work when her pencil hit the paper. Then, there came the idea of cutting hair. Her father owned a barbershop in the inner city, so, it wasn't totally a bad idea. Transforming an old hair due into a masterpiece was right up Ashley's alley.The fact that it involved clippers was a plus. The reminisce of cutting into hair enticed her. Customizing logos, designs and her own works of art into strangers heads felt freeing. Almost like cutting shapes out of cloth to make an outfit; like what she used to do back in the day. As you already know, the rest was Herstory (Her*story).
I reconnected physically with Ashley my first day here in L.A. Right off the bat she was different yet the same. Apparently, my girl has given up all meat and anything made from animals. Yes, my friends, she is vegan. I must say the lifestyle treated her well. She looks great! As she so plainly put it, "I have a neck!" which I thought was funny. She was already accustomed to the lifestyle of Los Angeles. She had its spunk, understanding and its attitude of a positive, vibrant L.A. girl. Even though Ashley's living circumstances was a bit rocky, she made it work. For over a year, she turned living in her car into a subtle sport and I couldn't wait to learn from her. Apart of me knew I was going to be living in my car, so, I wanted to know what to do. She knew all the tricks; where to park your car to sleep, where to use the bathroom, how to take showers on the daily (which I thought was clever) and how to store your clothes. Surely, I was impressed. It didn't take long for me to become accustomed to that lifestyle. Nevertheless, most importantly, we didn't let living in our cars get us down. We were in L.A.!! We all had big dreams of making our dreams come true. It was as if Ashley knew where to find the latest parties and get together in L.A. and that was okay with me!
Ashley's energy and style stood out the most in the barbershop. Everything from her hair, to her shoes, was very much different from anyone there. On top of that, she doesn't judge anyone's' way of life so she is very easy to talk too. SHE IS HER OWN PERSON!! People saw that and it couldn't be denied. All walks of life came to get their cut by Ashley. Her lines were crisper than a fresh sheet of paper, and her fades were faded to the GODS. With me being her friend, she asked me could I be her guinea pig for trying new things. I quickly agreed because not only would I be getting my hair done, I knew that whatever she did, I wouldn't be disappointed.
I am sad to announce that my friend is no longer residing in Los Angeles. It's been quite dull without her. She decided to move back to Cleveland and work on a few things. I'm not sure when she's coming back out here, however, in the meantime she's breaking down Cleveland with her barber skills. Due to her skills, she has already gotten an offer to work in a very well-known shop named Studio 87. It is there she is doing her best in building her brand and expanding her name. Until she re-ups on her clientele again, painting and drawing have become her outlet yet again. You can find most of her work on Instagram and Snapchat. She is not shy about sharing what she's currently working on.
I love interviewing my friends. It lets me know that I have genuine, creative people around me and it feels stupendous. We all need that little push when we are downs and what better people to do it like those who believe in you? When you find passionate and genuine friends, do not be a dummy and let them slide between your fingers. You are supposed to have disagreements and different opinions, that's what makes us all unique. Realize the deeper reason why the universe brought you together. I say that to say this, keep the real ones close and don't take them for granted because you never know what they are feeling. They may be here one day and gone the next.
Thank you for reading yet another interview of mine with someone I truly admire. You can find her on all social media platforms; however, she can be reached much quicker on her Instagram @blendia.arie Until next time, remember…
Stay Focused. Stay Positive. Vibrate Higher