Dirt Floors Stone Walls

Posted on January 25th, 2012 in Be The Difference,Home page (right column)

Everyday I am reminded of how blessed I am to do what I do. What’s amazing to me are the people I meet along the way. There are too many times to count where I meet someone that shares similar interests or gets my vision for this company – making a difference in the lives of others.


Last August was a very special month for me. It was the culmination of many months of hard work and support from awesome individuals who shared the vision of using my talent to make a big difference in the lives of many more. August was the launch of my design label, Designs By Malyse. 🙂 It was amazing and you will see those moments very soon on my website – changes and updates coming! 🙂


The Launch awaits!


In planning for this momentous event, I became aquainted with two very special people – Ash and Jake. I met them face-to-face for the first time the day of my launch. It was from there that we have become great friends. What is amazing is how their passion for their work has led them to share the same vision that I do of making a difference in this world.


Jake was the event photographer for my launch and Ash graced us with her hair and make-up talents. Thanks Jake for capturing these moments forever!


Ash applying make-up to model & Allison Browder Leonard (Legend’s Salon) styling my hair

Ash getting me ready


Jake capturing it all



Moments in time


Dirt Floors Stone Walls (DFSW) is a project that I am passionate about bringing to the awareness of others. Together, we can all do something to make a BIG difference. Here is my interview with Jake & Ash and the story of DFSW:


1. Who are Jake and Ash?

we’re a young couple living in brooklyn, new york. we met on the job doing what we love and have encouraged each other to continue to do so throughout our relationship. ash is a hair and makeup artist who loves to make people feel beautiful inside and out and i’m a photographer who hopes to make a change for better in the world i see through my camera. 


2. Background of how you came to do what you do now.

ash has been doing hair and makeup professionally since she was 18 years old. she always knew that she wanted to bring out people’s inner beauty. her career has brought her all over the world and she has met some very interesting people along the way. i always loved photography, but didn’t pursue it as a career until i was laid off from my advertising design job during the recession in 2009. since then, i’ve been building my wedding photography business from the ground up. however, it has taken me a long time to figure out how to use my talent to help people. 


3. How you came to know me and what it was like when you first met me in person.

ash and i were lucky enough to connect with madison and designs by malyse through mutual friends. it was really six degrees of separation. my cousin is dating the daughter of madison’s publicist (thank you, lynne!). we came down to chattanooga to shoot madison’s runway show. it was so much fun! we knew that madison was special as soon as we talked to her on the phone. she has such great insight and ideas. wise beyond her years. when we finally met her in person, we were blown away. she carries herself with such poise. i’m pretty sure that when i was her age i was playing video games and making things out of legos! 


4.  What made you realize that you wanted to do something more for others by using your talent? What was your epiphany?

ash and i are very fortunate and are truly grateful for everything that we have. knowing how little others have has driven us to do whatever we can to make a difference. we are so lucky to have the opportunity to do what we love and help people at the same time. while there was no particular crystalizing moment for us, we always just knew we had to give back in some way.


5.  How did Dirt Floors Stone Walls come to be?

i (jake) travelled to india in 2010 to find a purpose for my photography. instead, the purpose ended up finding me when i stumbled upon a small public school in the city of jaipur. sharing it’s land with a garbage dump and a fertilizer plant, the school left a lot to the imagination. this school started it all for the dirt floors and stone walls project. when i saw the conditions of the classroom contrasted by the smiles on the children’s’ faces, i knew i had to do something. but i didn’t know what to do yet. this school’s dirt floors and stone walls were the inspiration for the name of the project. when i returned to the united states with the images from the schools, it was ash’s idea to start a foundation to gather resources and raise awareness to help these children. without her, none of this would be happening.


India school children


6. What makes this so meaningful to you?

ash and i just want to give back. we have so much and it kills us to think that there are so many people with so little. we are so fortunate to be in a position to do something about it. as for a specific experience, there is no substitute for seeing a child’s face light up with joy.


 7.  What does it feel like to know you are making a difference in this world?

it is very gratifying to do something. even if it is just a drop in the bucket, we will do what we can. but saying that it’s gratifying makes it sound like a selfish act. we do it for the kids, not for ourselves.


8.  What is it like to know you are on your path of life and you know that it is where you are to be?

it is an overwhelming feeling to think that ash and i have found our calling. it is exciting and scary at the same time. all that we know is that we have these gifts for a reason and we want to use them to do as much good as we can while we are here on this earth.


9.  What are your plans for your upcoming trip?

the work i did on my first trip to india was all about discovering the DFSW cause and scouting out where we can do the most good for the schools. this trip is about digging deeper and actually giving supplies directly to the children. we will be landing in delhi and then making our way from rishikesh down through jaipur, ahmedabad and finally mumbai. the trip will last for four weeks. more details of our trip can be found at www.dirtfloorsandstonewalls.wordpress.com. this blog is dedicated to DFSW and our upcoming journey. this blog will be updated throughout the trip. below is a map of our route:


10. What are your goals for Dirt Floors and Stone Walls, and what can people do to help you reach those goals?

the ultimate goal of the DFSW project is to evolve it into a foundation through which money can be raised directly for supplies and construction materials for the schools of countries in need. we don’t see DFSW stopping at india. we hope to reach all places in need. since the project is still in its infantile stages we mainly need support from people that are ready and willing to give directly to these children. we are literally taking the funds we have raised, flying to india, buying schools supplies (pens, pencils, notebooks, blackboards, chalk etc.) and bringing it directly to the school in need. there is a donation button on my homepage if you navigate to the dirt floors and stone walls project page. the direct link is here. donations of any size are greatly appreciated and will go a long way in india.


11. What is it that each of us can do?

when ash and i first started our work with the schools, everyone kept telling us how BIG the problem is and that we can’t do anything about it. but that’s not true. ANYTHING is SOMETHING. if we only make a drop in the bucket we will have succeeded.


12. Meet Jake and Ash:





13. The video link to this amazing story: 



I will be traveling to NYC in February and will be meeting with Jake and Ash to deliver funds for this project. Please consider donating to this worthy cause by going to the website link above and make an online donation. If you live here locally, you may contact me with your donation and I will personally deliver the funds to them ( info@designsbymalyse.com ). The basic supplies for school that we take for granted here are luxuries there – pens, pencils, paper and more. Funds go along way there too! Jake and Ash will be personally purchasing the school supplies and delivering them to these kids and their schools. A little will go a looooong way! Together we can make a BIG impact and a difference for the future of these kids. Education opens up the world of possibilities. 


I am thankful for the special people that have entered my life. I know that it is not by accident, but for a greater purpose. Jake and Ash,



thank you for touching my life and blessing me with the opportunity to join you in touching the lives of these precious children.


Watch for updates and more ways you can be a part of this great project – DIRT FLOORS STONE WALLS. Go to the donate link today. 🙂



One Comment to “Dirt Floors Stone Walls”

  1. Avatar February 18th, 2012 at 4:30 pm our designs by malyse interview! « dirt floors and stone walls Says:


Leave a Reply