VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - It started five years ago as a way to build her portfolio coming out of hair school. Now Ash Fortis, a local hairstylist, has over 170,000 Instagram followers mesmerized by her "mermaid" hair color creations.
"I really wanted to start niche-ing in creative color because it wasn't really a thing at this point," says Ash. "We started utilizing social media and I just got kind of hooked realizing that there was actually now a community within the hair industry."
She was renting a booth and doing mostly natural color at the time, but began experimenting with creative color in her downtime.
"Any time I had a lull in the day, I just started to bring in models and I started doing a lot of free hair and I would document it," says Ash. "And there was an app out called periscope."
The live broadcasting app allowed fans to get a real time look at whatever she was working on.
"I started to be able to really build a community - it became a really great platform for me to empower other hairstylists and for me to get empowered to share my passion for educating."
The massive social media following has brought her endorsement deals, travel opportunities and contributing to a hair color line called "Pulp Riot".
"Usually it would take 10 or 15 years to get to do the things I'm getting to do right now," says Ash. "I definitely say 'if you can you dream it, you can achieve it'. And if you can hustle, put the hustle behind it and be willing to put in the work, you can absolutely achieve anything you want to you have all the tools ready for you."