In the small carport of her house, Ashley Galleher was bent over a skateboarding ramp, working to construct it as a side project for herself. She worked her way up from small ramps to building a large ramp in her backyard, keeping the project to herself.
Now, Ashley builds and constructs ramps for customers all over the High Country.
Growing up in Watauga County, Ashley was raised around the creek and woods of the mountain landscape with her two brothers. Her parents still live in the Valle Crucis home they bought in 1994.
“We definitely built jumps and hurt ourselves and played in the creek and did rope swings,” Ashley says. “I would say (it was) much more of a risk taking lifestyle.”
The outdoor sports popular in the area shaped Ashley’s childhood, and she credits the mountains for introducing her to activities she loves like snowboarding and skiing. However, it was a boy in her eighth-grade class that she attributes with amplifying her interest in skateboarding, a sport which would become an important part of her life.
“I thought he was the coolest, and because I was interested in him, I was interested in skateboarding, and I already had kind of been, but that just like took it to the next level,” Ashley says.
After that, it took years for her to master the sport. The gravel of the parent’s driveway made practicing hard, and she had to use the local elementary school parking lot as a practice area.
When she graduated from Appalachian State in 2010, Ashley left the Blue Ridge Mountains for Lake Tahoe, California. It was there that she found a community of female skateboarders and snowboarders, and that’s when her passion really took root.
“It’s much more normalized out there for girls to go and do this kind of stuff, and it’s getting that way here now, but the West Coast has always been a leader in that kind of stuff like girls board sports, surfing, skating and snowboarding ,” Ashley says.
Ashley moved back to North Carolina in August 2016 and started a position as executive director of the Valle Crucis Park. While at the park, she worked to bring board sport culture to Watauga County by organizing women’s skateboarding events and starting a ramp building and skating business.
Her business, Zionville Ramp Co., offers custom skate ramps and skating lessons to all ages. Ashley has already built ramps for businesses like Hatchet Coffee and Blue Ridge Hemp.
However, Ashley realized she wanted to pursue her passion of skateboarding and building ramps full time and left her position at the park in July 2021 to work on her business. On the side, Ashley still works part-time as a server at Bistro Roca for extra income.
“It was a leap of faith,” Ashley says. “The last eight months since I left my full-time job have been financially tough. I have a very good understanding of what people go through when they start a business.”
As part of her effort to skaters and especially female skaters, Ashley would hold skate nights at her house where skaters could come out and use the ramp in her backyard. When it became too cold to skate outside, she missed the community of those warm nights outside.
Motivated to continue skate nights in the winter, Ashley opened an indoor skate location where she could hold lessons and skate nights when it is too cold outside. Finding the building on Craigslist, she opened the indoor space in February of this year for skate reservations, lessons and ladies nights.
“As it’s continued, I’ve just learned that the ramp building is always going to be a part of it but a really big part is the community aspect and getting people skating and providing lessons, providing a space to skate, so I focused on those really three things,” Ashley says.
Since starting her business, Ashley has also built ramps for business and families all over the High Country. Recently, she built a ramp in the backyard of a 16-year-old boy who saved up for months in order to buy the ramp and then helped her build it.
“That was my favorite build for sure,” Ashleys says. “That was a big example of a community.”
Community is an important part of Ashley’s life in more than just her business. Ashley also helps run a nonprofit in honor of her brother, Adam Davis Galleher, who passed away in 2013. The nonprofit, SmileOn ADG, helps raise money for grants, scholarships and support for young musicians and students.
Ashley helps give back in honor of her brother through the nonprofit and has found creative ways to bring it and her business together. Since the pandemic, Ashley and her family have run a Dewey’s bakery holiday store to raise money for SmileOn ADG. Recently, Ashley put ramps in the Dewey’s store and put flyers up for her business.
Wanting to give back through her business as well, Ashley is working to create a space for women in board sports in the High Country in order to give other women what the sport did for her.
“Going and skating for a short time would make my whole day better, and it would increase my confidence in the workplace, in my relationships, in friendships,” Ashley says. “It was a way for me to push myself as much as I wanted.”
Motivated by the mountain community that raised her with its creeks and woods and open spaces, community has been a constant through building her business and creating a space for skaters in the High Country.
“Relying on people and them relying on you, it’s so corny, but it gives me purpose, and it gives a richness to my life that I did not have at any other job,” Ashley says.