Meet Ashtin McNicoll, the founder of Made to Paint, an online gift shop specializing in custom, hand-painted portraits and products. A recent Child and Family Studies graduate of Louisiana State University, Ashtin’s painting business started from heartfelt gifts she’d made for her bridesmaids. With the leftover materials from that project, she decided to try and make some extra money. Her paintings sold almost instantly.
Then, the unthinkable happened. Ashtin lost one of her best friends very tragically and very suddenly. Painting then became, for her, a necessary solace. “The whole thing wrecked me,” she said. “I couldn’t sleep. So I just painted everything. I painted the photos on my phone, painted my house.” After sharing her work with friends and family, the commissions started pouring in. “Then Mothers Day came, and it all just kind of blew up.”
Today, Made to Paint, with Ashtin’s recognizable, classically and beautifully designed products, is becoming a Baton Rouge go-to for one-of-a-kind personal gifts and mementos. Locals can catch her paintings at the Mid City Makers Market each month or at The Hope Shop in Light House Coffee, and far away fans can order her work from madetopaint1388.wixsite.com/madetopaint.
Soon though, thanks to her new partnership with Hands Producing Hope, Made to Paint customers will see a new, fun product line dedicated to supporting HPH’s Maternal Health Program.
The program’s initiative is to address the huge rates of miscarriages and stillbirths occurring in remote Rwandan villages, where most women don’t have access to adequate healthcare or knowledge about prenatal care. “Having recently experienced a miscarriage myself, I’ve got a huge heart for maternity,” said Ashtin. “And I had access to check ups, and actually studied all of this in school so I understood everything that was happening to my body and why. These women don’t even have that. I pray that no one has to go through that unnecessarily.”
A certain percentage of all sales from Made to Paint’s new product line will go towards funding Hands Producing Hope’s efforts in Rwanda. “And also just to spread awareness,” said McNicoll. “I hope that people will learn more about this issue, and how these women are suffering, and just the importance of promoting education and access to maternal health care for all mothers.”
Written June 12, 2019