Denna Allmaras creates beautiful art because she has experienced how ugly the world can be.
“I was raised in a very rural area around the Spirit Lake Reservation in North Dakota. Where I’m from — drugs, people getting killed by drugs, murder — all that stuff occurs each and every day. I've lost so many friends through suicide, and it's sad because they feel like they don't have a way out,” she said.
That bleak reality inspired Denna to launch her brand, QOD Affect. QOD stands for Queen of Darkness. She paints custom clothing items that reflect and celebrate the uniqueness of the individuals she creates them for.
“The ultimate goal for my brand is to unify and bring light to the darkness, because the life that I've lived - there's been a lot of darkness and I've shined through all that.”
At the beginning of 2022, Denna’s star was on the rise. But in March, she was arrested after the vehicle she was in was pulled over, and police found a large amount of marijuana and other drugs.
“When we got pulled over, I was like, this cannot be happening. I have a lot to lose,” Allmaras said. At 24-years-old, she was facing 35 years in federal prison. At her sentencing this past December, she shared her truth, her mission and her art with the judge.
“I was like, ‘This isn't me. I was at a very low moment in my life. I was broke. I ignored the signs that the creator gave me along the journey – really ignored them,’” Denna recalled. “The judge looked at me and goes, ‘I believe in you, and I'm going to give you a second chance because I feel like you deserve it. I hope I don't see you again.’”
Denna has fully embraced that second chance and hopes one day, her story, mistakes and struggles can show youth back home that change is possible. “I wish someone would've told me that it's going to be okay. You're valuable and you're strong. You're different for a reason, and that's okay.”