Poison ivy to business owners
Almost three years ago, an engineer and a salon owner moved outside of River Falls. A few years and a bad case of poison ivy later, they own two natural-based companies with the goal of working from home.
Tasia Ashton, married to Quint Ashton, owned hair salons in the Twin Cities, and prior to that, lived in Georgia doing hair.
"Owning salons was my first big dream, and I opened that when I was 21 with my partners," she said.
Quint is a project manager for residential areas.
The couple moved outside of River Falls to a home surrounded by trees. Being BMX and motorcycle fans, they tore up trails all over their property.
"Turns out, we have poison ivy everywhere," she said.
Quint had a poison ivy rash for two summers straight.
Then, they found out that sheep eat poison ivy.
"That's why this all started," she said. "If you had asked me three years ago, I never would have said I'm selling my amazing salons in the cities to come to Aston Estate and Two Redheads and a Wolf, but this is just so much fun. It's an amazing quality of life and it's peaceful."
The first sheep were bought from her aunt and uncle in Elmwood. The two now have alpacas, chickens, a dog, a cat and even a miniature pig.
Ashton Estate is the company that Quint has spearheaded, but Tasia helps, just as he helps her with their other company.
"Quint is an amazing fabricator and engineer," she said. "We're really big into doing everything ourselves."
As a result, he has designed all of the shelters for the animals and has really enjoyed working and caring for the animals, Ashton said.
They breed their alpacas and sheep for their coats and use them to make products, including yarn and batting. They also sell the alpaca manure as organic fertilizer to nurseries and private gardeners.
"It's just fun and its just awesome," she said. "We can do this for real and run a business with it, but have a great quality of life."
This improvement in quality of life is what she said is their goal.
"Humans have forgotten, I think, that we are a part of nature and we are animals," she said. "You've got to be outside more. I think if people had more nature in their life and more animal interaction, people would get a lot more peace of mind and a lot less anxiety and depression."
For this reason, they want to work from home.
"I don't like the traditional lifestyle of people work Monday through Friday, nine to five, and you see your family two days out of the week. Its not a good quality of life, to me," Ashton said. "Whoever you work with, you're with 40 hours a week if not more. Honestly, there's no one I really want to be with all that time besides him."
What started with poison ivy, "next think you know, more fencing, more everything couldn't focus on any soap. That's why I decided to sell the salons so I could do all of this," she said.
Two Redheads and a Wolf
While Tasia was still working full time at the salons she owned and accumulating animals, she started putting together a hair and body soap bar.
"My stuff is literally, all natural when a lot of things out there say they're natural when they're only a portion natural," she said, adding that she refuses to use unnatural chemicals that are harmful to people.
The bars are "made from things that naturally sustain themselves," she said, like plant oils. "From that aspect of looking cool still, and all that, that I know people still care about, it does that too."
When things got busy at home though, she said her life was not flowing as well as it could, so she sold her salons, started working part-time at a salon in Hudson and focused on their two companies that launched in January.
"I never thought in a million years that I would have had this three years ago," she said.
"I've had the most amazing feedback from Two Redheads and a Wolf. I went on backorder right after I launched it," she said. "Hair just has to be cleansed with natural things and the pH has to be brought back down. Life does not have to be that complicated; you do not need 17 different hair care products."
This simplicity is something that she is trying to promote through both companies.
She said they are a... "vehicle to do bigger and better things for the world. It's a movement and it's about being anti-consumerism and not listening to what the magazines, commercials, TV shows and even the news tells you."
Part of this is to keep educating themselves but also share what they learn with others, she said. That is something as a hair stylist she was not able to do.
"You can only do so many heads of hair... products, I can reach the whole world," Ashton said. "I like that."