Gift Alert: Dennison Lane Table Linens
A mass shooting survivor finds peace and healing making things by hand.
Arlingtonian Lori Lee Stultz was working as a systems engineer at D.C.’s Navy Yard on Sept. 16, 2013, when her world shifted on its axis.
“The Navy Yard shooting was life-defining,” she says, looking back on that traumatic day when 13 people died, including the gunman. “It was the stuff of horror movies. He shot six of my friends and killed five of them. I saw my friends being heroes.”
Stultz survived by having the good instinct to shelter under her desk until emergency responders arrived. She eventually returned to work while undergoing therapy and PTSD treatment, but things would never return to normal.
“Initially, it was great to be back in an environment with the people who went through that experience with me,” says the Westover resident, who is married with two kids, “but I came to realize that I just didn’t really like the work I was doing.” That epiphany led her to leave her job a year and a half later.
Contemplating her next move, Stultz found inspiration in the pages of interior design magazines. “I loved these photos of hand-stamped linen napkins. I thought, ‘I can do that,’ so I did.”
Now specializing in custom table linens and home accessories, as well as stationery, nursery prints and baby onesies, Stultz sells her products online and at local craft shows under the label Dennison Lane, a name derived from one of the first responders who rescued her that September day. Her textiles are made with permanent, machine-washable ink on 100 percent cotton and burlap.
Making pretty things by hand has proven therapeutic, she says: “For a couple of years I had a rock in my head—I was there but I wasn’t really there. I wasn’t living. But now I’m living a better life than I ever lived. I am kinder, more authentic. I’m conscious of the impact of my actions and words on the people around me.
“I think about the shooter all the time,” she adds. “If someone had helped him, maybe he wouldn’t have killed all those people. It made me so grateful to be alive. I realized I shouldn’t squander that opportunity. Now I’m doing what I love.”
Find her goods at dennisonlane.com. Instagram: @dennisonlane