By Kate Moore @kitmoore

IN THE forests of Louisiana lives a real-life fairy - equipped with her very own magical workshop

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Shot By: Ashley Gailliot and Trevor Roach

Producer: Kate Moore, James Thorne

Editor: Helen McKee

Ashley Gailliot, 23, started dressing as her alter-ego: a half mermaid, half-fairy called ‘Thistle’ as a hobby after a childhood obsession with all things fantasy-related. However, this became a more important form of escapism for Ashley during difficult times in her life. She told Truly: “After my husband joined the military, we were separated for about two years. Those were two of the darkest years of my life and it was very hard to feel anything." Thistle has been a coping mechanism for Ashley, and she uses her alter ego when she’s feeling under-confident. She explained: “I like to think of Thistle as the ideal version of myself. When I'm dressed as Thistle, I feel confident, happiness.” Ashley’s obsession with mermaids began even before she created Thistle and so: “When she's in the water, she becomes a mermaid. When she comes out of the water, she grows wings.” After going to a “life-changing” renaissance festival where she sold fairy wings with huge demand from attendees, Ashley turned her pastime into a full-time business and started selling custom wings online so others could live out their dreams too. She receives mostly positive reactions when she’s out in public as Thistle, especially from children – but some people have “rolled their eyes” and questioned “what is she doing?” Ashley doesn’t let the negativity affect her and has found even more acceptance of her second life with close friend Geneva, she explained that: “Geneva was the first friend that I made after I started dressing as a fairy and swimming like a mermaid.” In the video, Ashely makes Geneva a special pair of wings for her fairy ‘Aurora’, anxiously presenting them to her on a magical day out.