Ashley Searing grew up in Joliet, the eldest of three siblings. She was particularly close with her brother Nate, with just 13 months separating the pair.
As they grew older, they went to the same schools, played the same sports and grew closer after high school.
Searing says her brother was warm, funny, caring and a friend to all he met.
On Feb 9, 2020, Nate took his own life. He was 25 years old, 10 days shy of his 26th birthday.
His sister was the one who found him.
In the days that followed, life was a blur for the Searing family. Six days later, on Valentine’s Day, neighbors dropping off a large amount of food to the family prompted Searing to go to the grocery store to pick up some plastic containers. As she walked into the shop, she spotted a little aloe plant, with a card that said, “Aloe You Very Much”. She says it felt like a sign from her brother – so she picked it up and bought it.
Growing up, Ashley Searing loved to work with plants and paint plant pots at her grandmother’s initial bequest one day. After taking the little aloe plant home, she found an old pot she’d painted, put it inside and brought both to her friend Kaitlin Soto, as a thank you for helping support the family during such a difficult time.
Soto still has the little plant to this day. But, after receiving that gift from her friend, Soto later asked Searing if she could do something more with her creativeness.
Ashley Searing was unsure at first but Soto had planted the seed.
She started researching the benefits of plants and soil on mental and physical health and found the benefits to be many. She drew up a business plan and brought it to Soto, who already runs her own successful business, Flourish Juice Company.
Soto immediately told her friend that she needed to pursue the venture but just needed a good name. Eventually it came to Ashley, who said she wanted to include Nate in the name of it all – because it felt like this was his story, being told through her.
And “RejuveNate” was born.
Searing initially started operating the business out of her family home but in January opened a little shop in Crest Hill. For months, groups have been coming to the store to paint their pots, get creative and learn more about mental health and suicide prevention.
Searing doesn’t tell visitors what to paint. Instead, she encourages users to get creative on their own, saying that helps alleviate any depression or anxiety one might be feeling.
So far, it’s been highly successful, a business that has blossomed on behalf of the little brother.
If you or a loved one are experiencing a mental health crisis, you may call the 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 (800) 273-TALK (8255)