My name is: Ashley J. Williams.
I’m known for being: Vibrant, real and grounding; I am known for living my life and encouraging others to live their lives; I am known for being a foodie and knowing the best places to eat; I am known for creating space for others to experience self-care practices in all forms. Yoga therapist, owner of BareSoul and the Well Collective.
I live in: Richmond, VA (Church Hill).
My newest wellness obsession is: Spending time on/by the water. I also love the coffee alternative MudWtr!
In my city, my favorite place for exercise is: I absolutely love spending time and working out outdoors in our parks, trails and close to our bodies of water. We have beautiful outdoors spaces that accommodate long walks or runs with different terrain. I absolutely love riding my bike on the Virginia Capital Trail.
The best spot for body or facial treatments is: I am an advocate for body work in the form of massage therapy. At the moment, my favorite service is an at-home 60- or 90-minute massage by J’Adore Massage with Kyndra Gardner. She is a mobile massage therapist who comes to you and offers add-on services including hot-stone therapy, focused cupping therapy, aromatherapy and foot bath/scrub!
My favorite local health food store or delicious nourishing restaurant is: Juice Life RVA, a local cold-pressed juice bar located in Shockoe Bottom. Their juices are made with fresh ingredients, and can be purchased individually or in packages.
When I’m there, I always grab: I love their 50 Shades of Green and Liquid Gold! So good.
When I want to get quiet, think and/or meditate, I head to: The James River. I love spending time at Pony Pasture or the Rocketts Landing area because there are places to sit and catch the view and sounds of the water.
What I do there is: I usually sit on the rocks and listen to the water or the natural surroundings. If I go to Rocketts Landing, then I usually am getting on a boat to ride it down the river. I recently joined the Freedom Boat Club, which provides me access to unlimited boating, so I spend a lot of time on the water.
What makes it special and unique is: I am very drawn to the water element, yet the James River is special because of its history. Richmond was one of the first colonizations and the James River is known as America’s “founding river,” as it was a main transportation route of commerce, which included the first enslaved Africans. As a Black woman creating space for business and community healing, I choose to visit the river to meditate and connect with myself, the environment and the energy of the space. The water and intention to reclaim the space by acknowledging the past and visualizing the future provides me time to transform the energy and create a new narrative, which is liberating and healing for myself and my ancestors.
My favorite local bookstore is: Chop Suey Books in Carytown. I align with Chop Suey’s values and social justice stances.
The best thing about it is: They advocate on social justice issues, highlight diverse writers and create equitable opportunities for access to books for writers and readers. If they don’t have the book, then they find it or offer suggestions about others. My favorite thing that they did in 2020, during a time when racial injustices were highlighted, was to offer a free book to Black and BIPOC community members, which is an act of support because reading is healing.
When I need to get away, I take a trip to: Either Virginia Beach or Charlottesville. Both are less than two hours away and easy to get to by car.
The reason why I love it is: When I go to Virginia Beach, I stay in an oceanfront hotel or house to experience the sounds and view of the water. I’m a foodie, and love seafood, specifically oysters, so I find two or three places that I like to visit. I always wake up to the sunrise and make sure to catch the sunset.
When I go to Charlottesville, I love experiencing the vineyards, restaurants and outdoor spaces like the downtown mall. I’m always visiting wineries for tastings and to take in the mountain landscape, which you can see at many of the vineyards. I absolutely love Charlottesville accommodations and boutique hotels like The Draftsman and Quirk. Charlottesville has amazing food options and outdoor events with live music, shopping at the farmer’s mark