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Nonprofit adds boutique in south Forsyth

POSTED: September 17, 2013 12:28 a.m.
Crystal Ledford/

April Porter checks out items for sale at the store while Jodi Sappe visits with manager Austin Ashworth.

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A new south Forsyth store is all about taking something old and making it new again.

Antique cabinets and chests are refinished and refurbished, while reclaimed wood from old barns is used to create new chairs, tables and other pieces for inside homes.

Every piece of furniture inside The Boutique by No Longer Bound is handcrafted by men in the faith-based, residential ministry that helps them overcome addictions to alcohol and drugs.

“It’s cool, the repurposed and reused furniture … it’s all had a previous life,” said Austin Ashworth, manager. “We can tie that into our program because the guys are being repurposed now. It’s showing that the old can be new again.”

While in the program, which last 10 months, men are guided through a Christian-focused ministry that is based on the principle of regeneration, or “a radical change for the better.” 

The nonprofit No Longer Bound has a number of financial outlets, in which program participants work, which help to raise funding for the ministry and provide assistance to those who can’t afford to pay the fee to take part.

The Boutique by No Longer Bound is the most recent of those financial programs.

Ashworth, who graduated from the program in 2011, said he and other ministry leaders planned the shop for about a year before securing the 1,400-square-foot retail space on Peachtree Parkway, near Big Creek Elementary School.

Prior to that, men in the program had built a few custom pieces to sell in the ministry’s thrift shop in downtown Cumming and at the Lakewood 400 Antique Market.

Ashworth, who had a background in construction before entering No Longer Bound, said woodworking has always been a passion of his. To be able to share that passion with other men going through the ministry is rewarding.

“The whole process is really cool because the guys for the first time are getting to take a lot of pride in what they’re doing and really putting their heart into it,” he said.

“They get to see [the piece] start and then come in here and they are like, ‘Hey, I built this.’ So it’s a lot of ownership and love on their end.”

The Boutique offers several furniture lines, which Ashworth said have been developed due to their popularity. But the shop also does full custom orders.  

“So a customer will send me a picture via e-mail or bring something in and we’ll talk and draw something up right there on the spot,” Ashworth said.

The Boutique also offers a wide range of small decorative items and antiques that fit in with the store’s upscale “shabby chic” vibe.

All proceeds from every sale go back into No Longer Bound’s ministry.

Currently, about 10 of No Longer Bound’s participants work on items for The Boutique.

“Some have experience and other guys are just good learners,” Ashworth said. “We have different stations, so maybe they’ll come in and just be doing sanding and then they’ll learn how to read a tape measure and use a miter saw. Eventually, they’re building their own stuff.”

Ryan Vanson, one of the current participants, said he was uncomfortable when he first started at the woodshop. But like his total transformation through No Longer Bound, his attitude has changed.

“It wasn’t something I was good at and I was afraid to fail,” he said. “But now I thoroughly enjoy it. I love seeing projects through from start to finish.

“It’s extra special in here, to see a project start out as just a piece of wood and see it go all the way to The Boutique and be sold and have a person enjoy the piece of furniture in their home.”

 

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