Christmas in Cowtown: My Favorite Unique Finds

Over the weekend, I attended the Christmas in Cowtown gift show here in Fort Worth. I went in with the hopes that I’d find some fun, unique things to share with y’all and spotlight some small businesses that are definitely worth knowing about, especially if you’re starting your Christmas shopping early!

Keep reading to see a few of my favorite booths and vendors:

 

INTO THE WEST HOME

 

As I was walking through the show, I couldn’t help but turn to look at the Into The West booth – it was so full of color, texture and amazing southwestern-inspired style that spoke to everything I’ve ever pinned onto my Pinterest “Home Decor” board.

Everything they have is fun, bright and unique – whether you’re looking for Mongolian fur pillows, an eclectic cowhide rug or a one-of-a-kind bull skull for your wall, you’ll love Into The West.

 

My personal favorite things in their booth were a Talavera tile bull skull, a huge serape accent blanket, and everything Mongolian fur.

If you’re a Fort Worth local, make sure to stop into their shop. If you’re reading from afar, make sure to connect with them on Instagram or their website.

 

 

TURQUOISE & COMPANY / WESTERN SKIES HANDMADE

I have been a follower of Turquoise & Co on Instagram for awhile, and I was so excited to run into their booth! They stock a beautiful collection of authentic turquoise jewelry that can fit any budget – whether you’re looking to simply start your collection or buy a one-of-a-kind stunner, they’ll have something you’ll fall in love with.

The only thing that could have (and did) make me happier was to find they also had Western Skies Handmade purses and accessories displayed as well. I absolutely fell in love with these wool jewelry bars – what a cool stocking stuffer, especially for the western-obsessed girl who has everything. As a girl who has way too many Ziploc bags full of turquoise (don’t judge), these are definitely on my list this year!

Also, for those who aren’t familiar with Western Skies Handmade, Sarah makes drop dead GORGEOUS handbags that are worth every penny. I’m still dreaming about this beauty, who was welcoming customers into the booth. Definitely check out both Turquoise & Co and Western Skies Handmade on Instagram!

 

LEANING R SALSA

photo: leaningrsalsa.com

If you’re a gal who loves salsa, or gift baskets, or both – stop scrolling! The sweetest lady asked me to try a few varieties of salsa at her booth, and let me tell you, they were SO good. The Thorp family grows hot peppers, so trust me when I say I know a tasty salsa recipe when I taste one. There was a variety for everyone – sweet and mild, hot and zesty, or something in between – you’ll fall in love.

Each jar is canned with love by the owner of this small business, and if you love her recipes enough to share, she also does gift baskets! I know I’ll be ordering a few to send back home to the Midwest this winter. Ordering a jar or basket of salsa from Leaning R is a fabulous way to support a small business and give a unique gift to someone you love. Check out their Instagram page here!

photo: leaningrsalsa.com

 

SELINA VAUGHAN STUDIOS

Every western fashionista has a collection of vintage graphic tees in her closet, but what about vintage feedbags? I loved the concept of these bags by Selina Vaughan Studios – vintage feedbags repurposed into fashionable handbags that give off that western or farmhouse vibe. These would make such a cute day bag for errands, or an adorable diaper bag.

There were also a variety of styles available in the booth, so whether you are a backpack kind of gal or would rather use a cross body or tote, there’s something for you.

 

Side note: I was extra nostalgic when I saw a design featuring a bag from Des Moines, Iowa. Such a cute idea to represent a place you love with a fashionable twist! Check out their Instagram here.

 

TEXI BOOTS

I’ve been following Michelle Manningham, owner of Texi Boots, for over a year now as she’s built her own cowboy boot brand from the ground up. I was ecstatic to finally run into her during a show, and to see her gorgeous boot styles in person. Her trademark pink soles are so unique – they’re a must have for any boot connoisseur.

There are currently two styles available, and you can read the story of each on the Texi Boots website. If you love to champion your local girl boss, support small businesses with big dreams and are a self-proclaimed boot junkie, it’s time to step into a new pair of Texi’s. Check out their Instagram here.

Brit West On Manifesting Western Dreams & Design

Hey Everyone!

Today’s blog guest has been on my list for ages, and I’m so happy we finally got a phone call to chat about her life as a designer, horsewoman and visionary.

Brit West is one of my favorite western designers and a major influence in my own personal style. She creates high end western fashion that every woman could wear, and her style is timeless. Residing near Jackson Hole, Wyoming, her pieces have a vibe that not only fit her story, but her home.

If you love classic, chic western fashion – big blue turquoise – unique leather and hides – Brit West will be among your favorite designers for sure.

Whether you’re a fashion aficionado, a small business boss or an every day woman just doing her best, you’ll be inspired by her story.

all photos belong to Brit West

When asked about her personal style, Brit laughs and asks herself how she ever got into fashion. These days, she finds herself  joking about checking to make sure her pants are zipped and her shirt is clean, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t love getting dressed up now and again.

“I love high fashion western wear – cashmere, silk, and good leather. I like to keep things simple that accentuate accessories. I love jewelry and belts and buckles. I really adore classic western clothing that accentuates the statement pieces.”

Brit has an incredible eye for style and a brand worth bragging about, but getting this far came with a set of challenges that led her to drastically change her path in life. She became a true believer in manifesting her reality through believing in her own potential, which led to the start of her design journey.

Brit’s story began in Atlanta, Georgia where she was going to school for art, but felt a pull in another direction.

“With the school I was going to, I was going to be spending my life in front of a computer. One day I was walking around downtown, looking up at all the high rises and said this isn’t me.”

She started praying about her path and began putting feelers out west, halting the work she was doing with TV and film. Before she knew it, a Durango brochure showed up at her door, and she was off to ranch. Little did she know, that would only be a step in her journey.

“I was outfitting and got badly injured. I started working for a hat company shaping and selling hats because I couldn’t lift a saddle, I couldn’t ride, I couldn’t do anything. I ended up having to wallow in my sorrows for a bit, but told myself: wait a minute, figure out what you’re going to do with your life because you can’t wait tables for the rest of your life.”

Brit describes the start of her business as a response to actively manifesting her reality after going through this rough time in her life. She had recently gotten a divorce and needed to care for her animals, so the business began.

“The business came about by default. I just needed to take care of my animals. I started making hats and hatbands on the side and it just grew into this design business. I’ve learned to shoot, how to build a website, how to market all by default. I had to find something that I could do to support my animals, they are my heart.”

 

Now the business has grown far past hatbands and into beautiful western fashion designs. And to many customers’ surprise, she is still a one woman show most of the time.

“People are always shocked when they hear me pick up the phone for an order. What they don’t realize is that I’ve done everything from the ground up – there’s no corporate, my marketing just looks bigger than it actually is.”

It’s no surprise that Brit has been able to build her brand single handedly when you know her secret to success: believing in her own vision.

“Once I learned how to manifest, everything opened up for me. I learned to lay there at night and realize how blessed I was. I became able to lay out what I wanted and know it was all attainable. I never say I can’t anymore. That’s the emphasis behind the brand – positive manifestation.”

Fast forward to now, Brit’s inspiration for the brand is still rooted in manifesting bigger and better things. She describes her brand inspiration as creating every line better than the last, and making things that her customers fall in love with.

She regularly asks herself these questions:

How can I make things more creative?

How can I make this better than before?

How can I make things more attainable?

Her current challenge as an artist comes with that last question – how can she make her pieces for attainable for people.

“Being a one-off artist is hard because it makes things very expensive. I’m trying to figure out how I can get more product to my customers without being in such a high price bracket that no one can afford me. I want there to be something for everybody.

It’s not every day that you’re wearing a gown for an event. I want to design pieces for the public that they’ll gravitate toward and wear on a regular basis. I want them to grab my piece when they’re going out for dinner. While I would love to design runway wear, it’s not what the public wears. I want everyone to find something they can and would wear from my designs. I’m working towards finding the right balance.”

But when you ask about her view on struggles in business or life, she speaks positively.

“I believe our struggles are in our own mind. You have to just put things out there and figure them out. I’ve put thousands of dollars into designs that weren’t received well, and I’ve had to go back to the drawing board and ask why.”

Brit thrives off being creative – in fact, it’s her favorite part about designing. In the western fashion industry, her designs, artistry and photography stand out in a sea of competition. But competition doesn’t play a part in her vision – she only focuses on her passion for creativity and the process that goes along with it.

“My creative thrives when I’m designing. I get that rush of endorphins when something comes in and I put it on, it fits, it looks great when we shoot it. I love when it all comes together – the model, the backdrop, the clothes are all on point – to watch the process come together and see the end product well received.”

I hope you guys enjoyed my look into Brit’s world – If you are interested in following her work or purchasing one of her pieces, here’s where you can find them.

Facebook: Brit West

Instagram: britwest777

Website: www.britwest.net

If you are headed to the NFR this December, you can shop Brit West at Cowboy Christmas in booth 748.

 

 

Have an artist or designer you’d like to see featured? Leave a comment!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Style Undefined: Finding Your Style Without Labels

Despite being a self-proclaimed free spirit, I have this uncanny knack for organization. I love geeking out over planners and notebooks and the best apps to put my life into neat little drawers where everything has a place – I even have a favorite pen brand that forever lives in my bag. (judge away guys, I know.)

I wish I could say this habit stopped at my office supplies, but it’s followed me into my closet for as long as I remember. The summer before my freshman year of high school, I spent countless hours contemplating who I wanted to be – after all, this was my last chance to reinvent myself before I was stuck with it forever. (L O L, right?)

But how was a girl to choose a label? I loved classic rock and designer purses, played volleyball and wrote music, and of course I had that pesky barrel racing habit that ran my schedule. All I can say is, expressing myself was turning out to be a little more complicated than I originally thought.

And for the record, I never ended up sticking to a label. I bounced around between looks and vibes and aesthetics, trying to show the world every part of my personality. If I could talk to 14 year old me, I would give her a hug and tell her she’s trying WAY too hard. Also, don’t be afraid to wear boots to school? I don’t know.

But while I’ve long outgrown the high school stereotypes and worries about what some guy thinks of my outfit, the urge to box myself into a category still comes out every once in awhile.

Here’s the thing about personal style: it’s fluid. A lot like life, we’re constantly going through different stages and getting into new things. One day, you might wake up and realize that your clothes don’t fit your style any more, so you try to redefine yourself. You get on Pinterest for inspiration, trying to curate an aesthetic to follow. Then, you find yourself liking something that doesn’t fit, and you go back to questioning your whole wardrobe again.

Okay, take a deep breath – stop.

There’s so much pressure on girls to like the right things. Have you ever held your tongue on something you loved because you knew judgement would follow? Same. I think we can all relate to feeling like we have to fit into our box in front of other people, but what if we stopped doing that?

No person is one dimensional. We’re all complex beings with unique interests, feelings and talents. We’d probably find each other a lot more fun and relatable if we were forthcoming with all the things we love, and stopped putting a border on our own lives.

I think the magic we see in fashion influencers or designers we admire is the mystery. No one is inspired by predictable, we’re always looking for something different, unexpected or off-the-wall.

There is no magic purchase that will make your style unique. Copying another girl’s style doesn’t make it yours. You have to use your personality – it’s all about curating things that inspire you, even when that means taking inspiration from multiple people and genres. In fact, I think the ability to mix these pieces is the key to really showing off your personality in an authentic way.

Instead of starting with a look you think is “you” – start with just, you.

Think of your personality as a Pinterest board. There’s no way only one look sums everything up. Add inspiration wherever it comes from, and no matter how much or how little it makes sense.

So what’s the secret to style? Take a step back and look at the big picture of your life:

What excites you?

What consumes your time?

What are your favorite memories?

What makes you feel inspired?

Take time to notice your life from an outsider perspective, then channel those observations into expression.

 

I hope my thoughts today are helpful in expressing yourself, and I especially hope your expression leads you to live life fully.

 

Texas Bound & Flying: Moving Forward And Looking Back

Well hello there!

Welcome back to my blog. Before I say anything, I want to tell you guys thank you for reading my thoughts. Whether this is your first time here, or you’ve read every post since the beginning, I’m so thankful to have a place to share my words, passions and life with others who find them interesting. Also, thank you for being friends, even when I took off for awhile – it means more than you all know.

The last few months have been an absolute whirlwind of adventure, risk, fear and joy. I was getting burnt out trying to keep up with the social media world, feeling far from the passion that led me to start this blog in the first place. I felt uninspired with my surroundings, and Marshall felt the same.

What once felt like the perfect place to land was starting to feel small.

One night, we were sitting in our house having a cup of coffee together, talking about what we need to do about this void we felt. We had talked about moving west, but there were drawbacks. Then, out of the blue, Marshall suggested Texas. There were opportunities for both of us there – for building careers, being close to the western lifestyle and building the homestead we’ve dreamed of since we got married. So, with that, we called our realtor and the house was listed a week later.

After that came home improvement projects, help from all our friends and family, and lots of time to immerse ourselves in the place that will always be our home. For awhile, I had the chance to replace worrying about my Instagram following with laughs on a lazy river and watching the sun go down from the top of a round bale. I replaced burn out with happiness that came from cooking with my parents and moving my best friend into a new apartment. And, for the first time in awhile, I felt like myself again.

I’ve always been proud of being raised in the midwest, but it wasn’t until I pulled away and spent time in the place that raised me, distraction free, that I felt I was apart of it again. And even when it the sting of leaving hit, I realized I wasn’t trading in my roots – I was simply growing wings. It was time to leap off the cliff in faith, even with nothing worked out, and we were ready.

So, we jumped. We traded in our cozy first house for a two bedroom apartment and a roommate, then moved 800 miles south with a stock trailer full of furniture and heads full of dreams.

So fast forward to now – I’m sitting in a coffee shop in downtown Fort Worth, a few miles from my apartment. Everything is new, and even a little scary. In many ways, I feel like I’m starting over, but then again, I’m looking back at how far I’ve come.

I remember being a fresh high school graduate, asking every rodeo producer and brand rep I could find how I could break into the industry. They ALL told me the same thing:

It’s extremely competitive.

You don’t have any connections.

There’s no opportunities for someone your age.

Six years later, I’m surrounded by people who own incredible western brands, or write for the publications I read front to back growing up. I’ve sat front row at fashion shows in the western hubs of the country, modeled for brands I only dreamed would ever notice me, and have a close circle of industry friends who dream incredibly big, inspiring me to do the same.

If you would’ve told 18 year old me – the me going door to door in the Stockyards handing out business cards – that I would be working in the western industry, living four miles away in a few years, I would’ve died right there.

So when things feel overwhelming in this new adventure, I’m making a point to go back to that place. To remember the faith I had to pursue a dream, to feel humbled when I look back on everything I’ve had a chance to experience, and to hold close the people who made me who I am today. I may be 800 miles from the place that made me, but I hold it close to my heart with every step.

So shoutout to all my midwestern dreamers – all the underdogs – all the girls wanting to take a risk on a dream. My advice? DO IT. Absolutely GO FOR IT and never look back. No matter your age, the number in your bank account, or your location – You can change anything about your life, whenever you decide to. It’s going to take a lot of belief in yourself, a lot of faith in things yet unseen, and all of your heart – just remember that what you give is what you’ll receive tenfold.

Thanks again for reading guys. I’m so excited to bring you new content that I’m inspired by. I never want to take for granted the fact that I get to talk with people who read what I write, and call them friends.

Stay inspired guys.

 

 

Turquoise Tradition: Artist Adam Fierro’s Perspective on Design and Culture

Hey all!

I’m excited to be coming to you today with a long anticipated article in collaboration with one of my favorite jewelry designers of the moment – Adam Fierro.

I first connected with Adam through Facebook, which coincidentally, is his main market platform for his work. I immediately fell in love with the unique, avant-garde style of his pieces and the story of how each design concept came to be. He describes his style as contemporary southwestern – when it comes to the cutting edge, Adam has mastered the art.

“My work is off the wall. I love big and bold, and jaw dropping.”

I got the chance to talk with him, not only about his designs, but also his culture and his unique perspective of the turquoise industry in the heart of New Mexico. While they moved around the Land of Enchantment often growing up, Adam considers Albuquerque his home.

Albuquerque is a major southwestern hub for Native American culture, tradition and of course, jewelry – jewelry making was an heirloom passed on by the family business.

“My grandfather learned the art of jewelry making near the turn of the twentieth century, from a Navajo friend,” Adam told me. “He learned it to support himself, but that was it. He knew it, but wasn’t really in it.” Later on, his grandfather would pass on the skill of jewelry making to Adam’s father, who would define his own jewelry style with his skill set.

Adam began creating jewelry when he was very young – his first piece was made for his mom when he was just a kid, sneaking into the workshop when his parents weren’t looking. While he was surrounded by influence of Native American jewelry his whole life, it wasn’t until he was in high school that he started his journey into the business.

“I needed to pay my car insurance, so I cut stones and polished them for my father.”

Adam’s parents tried to discourage him from getting into the business, as it’s difficult to make a living as an artist, but he went for it anyway. Now, he’s a young visionary bringing his perspective to the jewelry traditions he grew up with.

Adam creates art by way of Native American traditions, but his ancestry doesn’t read that simply. In fact, when I asked which piece was his favorite, he told me a story about a cuff inspired by his melting pot of a family heritage.

“It represents my heritage and who I am.”

The piece starts with Mayan pyramids and mountains mingled with a horse and buggy carrying a woman, who Adam says is his grandma.

“It’s carrying her to the Santa Clara Pueblo around the mountains, the Apache, into the Rio Grande valley.”

Adam describes this piece as a coming together of his unique heritage – both his mom and dad’s sides coming together into one scene etched in silver and turquoise.

So what’s the secret to originality and making a stone transform into a piece of art? It’s simple – listen.

“The turquoise tells me what it wants to be. I do a lot of freeform – the stone basically dictates its own shape. I may want to make a bracelet, but it may end up being a pendant instead. I just flow with whatever the turquoise wants to be.”

Adam is a natural story teller, and it comes through in each piece he crafts. He draws inspiration from the things around him, but the big picture revolves around the stone he’s crafting.

“The inspiration for my work always goes back to the turquoise. I have a deep appreciation for the stone matrix and color combination – it paints a picture in each stone. I like to use big stones in my pieces because there’s more of the picture to see.”

While his work is unique, Adam explained to me the difficulty of being overlooked in a sea of saturated markets in New Mexico.

“There are so many artists here, and so many imports. Artists are no longer depending on stores to sell their merchandise – they’re turning to social media to make a living, and that’s what I’ve done. If it wasn’t for social media, I would probably be out of business.”

Adam has grown an online network through his Facebook platform where he showcases his designs.

“99% of my sales are outside of New Mexico. I sell around 1% of my jewelry in the state, and the rest is being shipped everywhere else. With social media, the artists are able to grab ahold of the market again.”

Speaking of selling outside of the box, Adam has international aspirations for his work. He told me about his dream of being big in places like Japan and Australia. He’d also love to see his work featured in publications such as Cowboys & Indians.

If you’re interested in following Adam’s work, check out his Facebook profile, “Adam Fierro Jewelry”.

Thanks again to Adam for taking the time to tell me his story and share his experience. I hope you guys enjoyed learning more about the his art.

 

Do you have an artist you’d like to see featured? Leave me a comment!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Heart Is In The Hills – Rodeo Roots & Being True To Your Home

When I sit down to plan my rodeo schedule each year, I’m blown away by how many amazing places I’ve been able to visit. I’ve crossed off the likes of Houston, San Antonio, Austin, Cheyenne, Denver and more.

But each June, there’s one rodeo that I never like to miss. It’s not iconic or well known, but it lit the spark in my heart for the western industry many years ago and will always hold a special place in my heart.

My mom grew up in a small river town called Bellevue – it’s one of the last places in the country where you can feel the Americana spirit everywhere from main street to the state park. It’s the kind of place that’s served your favorite ice cream flavor for 40 years, and the same person hands you the cone every time you visit.

The Jackson County Pro Rodeo is held just outside of town off a dirt road, and it’s a place that I’ll always hold dear to my heart. Following a dusty line of cars to a high point in the road, you’ll find the arena tucked into the side of a hill. In the distance, you’re surrounded by vintage barns and the rolling country side. Food stands hosted by the local Cattlemen’s Club. Raffles, a tiny carnival and a small town band setting up in the old barn to play afterwards. Lawn chairs and blankets on the ground, where everyone sits together. It’s everything I love about Iowa and the Midwest.

Somewhere in my parents’ house, there’s a picture of an eight year old me, wearing a purple cowboy hat signed by the rodeo queen, clutching the fence during the performance. I still remember going behind the chutes afterwards to get autographs from the barrel racers and petting all of their horses.

 

Fast forward to last weekend, sitting on the same hill I did all those years ago, thinking about how those dreams all came true – barrel racing around the country, traveling to iconic rodeos to write about them and wear one-of-a-kind western wear, going to the NFR instead of watching it on TV – all of those dreams were fostered on these rodeo grounds. I was even able to work with a local boutique, The Humming Arrow, who outfitted me for the night – a dream I didn’t know could make it all the way back to Bellevue with me.

High-Low Tee & Fringe Vest: The Humming Arrow Belt: The Humming Arrow Jeans: American Eagle Boots: Lane x Junk Gypsy Bag: Stone Feather Road Squash Blossom: Cholla’s Turquoise

 

 

Now, as my dreams get bigger and are challenging me to travel further, I cling to those roots more than ever. That little girl I used to be just loved going to the rodeo in her mom’s hometown, simple as that. And no matter where my adventures take me, my heart will always be rooted in the heart of the Midwest, somewhere in the rolling hills.

I want to remind everyone who’s reading this that it’s okay to come from a place no one knows. It’s okay to have humble beginnings. It’s okay to cling to tradition, family, values and home. Remember the places that grew you and no matter where you go, never forget where everything started.

 

 

If you liked my rodeo outfit, make sure to check out The Humming Arrow mobile boutique. Nick is close to my heart as an Iowa boutique owner, and she also carries the western trends that are hard to find close to home. You can find them on their website here, or follow @thehummingarrow on Instagram for new arrivals and more!

Mud Lowery: Unique Statement Turquoise That Is All The Rage

The hype around Mud Lowery jewelry designs is so real. I feel like I checked Instagram one day and all of the sudden, I was seeing his work everywhere. But don’t get me wrong, this hype is totally deserved – I caught up with Mud in Fort Worth, Texas where he was promoting his work at a Sip-N-Shop event hosted by Sterling Coomer. He’s an incredibly humble and personal guy with a knack for stunning silver work and bold, unique designs.

As I’ve been doing with other artists, I wanted Mud to weigh in on buying authentic turquoise and what inspires him while giving him a chance to show off his work to a new crowd. If you aren’t a fangirl of his designs yet, prepare to become one!

 

What is your tribal affiliation?

I’m Lumbee Indian which is a tribe located in Robeson County, North Carolina.

What does your culture mean to you?

It means a lot! My family in North Carolina are the coolest people in the world. They know so much about our tribe and other tribes. They haven’t turned their back on being Native American when times were really hard, not even 50 years ago. We have our own way of speaking, way of cooking – just a whole separate way of life. They are all hardworking, honest, caring and supportive. My grandparents have so many stories about growing up farming and how hard they worked as kids. I have noticed that a lot in most tribes. When my kids get older I want him to be even more involved than I am. I want them to value our tribe and traditions more than we do now.

 

How did you get started creating jewelry?

My grandma would always buy my sisters and cousins turquoise jewelry when we would go back home to Robeson County. I was always fascinated with the pieces she would buy for them, and the history behind the designs. As I got older, I painted pretty often and got into tooling leather. I always created with more of a “southwest” feel and still really enjoyed learning about Native American art. So, one day I just decided I wanted to take a break from painting and tooling leather and wanted to try silversmithing.

What is the biggest inspiration in your work?

I would say my biggest inspiration would be mountains. Last year I was blessed enough to travel a ton. I always get in such an energized mood and start thinking creatively when I travel. I went to Colorado several times; California, North Carolina, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Utah, Canada, Haiti, Italy and Switzerland (all these places have the prettiest mountains). Everywhere I went there were mountains that made me sit and stare. This inspires me to create things that would make someone else sit and stare, whether that be making a cuff or designing art for a t-shirt.

Do you have a favorite piece?

My favorite piece so far would have to be this Squash Blossom I made or this large Royston cuff I made.

What do you want others to see when they get a piece from you?

I want them to be able to tell, just from looking at it, that my pieces are original and that they took time – that I put a lot of thought into the design. I want them to think that their money was well spent.

Do you have a muse?

I do, but they are not jewelry designers. They are just people that I am inspired by, whether that be their creativity or work ethic. I think Virgil Abloh is super inspiring and talented. Sam Larson is an incredible artist and I really enjoy following his work. And then George Strait and Trevor Brazile too.

Is there somewhere you’d love to see your pieces featured?

Vogue, Cowboys and Indians, Western Horseman, really anywhere!

What would you like people to know about you, or what you do?

Man, I’m not sure. I’m super proud to be an enrolled tribal member. I think that it is always a good idea to support Native Americans; there is so much to be learned from all the different tribes. I really appreciate the people that want to learn and support enrolled members. I just want to keep learning and growing and eventually give back to future members. Thanks to some of my close native friends like Shondina (instagram: @ShondinaLee) I get to have really meaningful conversations about our culture and how special it is to be enrolled.

Where are you located now?

Fort Worth, Texas!

What’s the best way for someone to buy a piece from you?

My new (and improving) website- MudLowery.com

 

Thank you so much to Mud for giving me the inside story on being a native jewelry designer and what inspires you. Readers, definitely check out his website and social media as well. I want to encourage you to support native American artists, as the western industry is so heavily influenced by their work and culture.

Follow Mud Lowery on Social:

Facebook: Mud Lowery

Instagram: mudlowery

 

The Broke Girl’s Guide To Authentic Turquoise

So you’re a western-obsessed girl on a budget – you’ve managed your way through thrift stores and boutique sales to get the clothes you really want, but what do you do about a lacking turquoise collection?

Have you ever heard the phrase, right person, wrong time? I feel like I’ve played this life situation out so many times, but with turquoise jewelry. (yes, I’m totally serious right now, don’t judge.) There’s nothing like walking through a jewelry gallery and laying eyes on that perfect piece, only to have your heart broken by the price tag.

But don’t worry, there are ways to support native artists, be apart of the western jewelry community and invest in real stones and silver, without breaking the bank. The tips I’m sharing are all from personal experience and a few years of collecting. Keep reading to see what I recommend!

 

BUY VINTAGE.

For some of you, this may seem like an obvious tip, but it’s something I definitely overlooked in the beginning. If you’re on a budget, your best bet at finding a cool piece in your price range is to shop vintage. Personally, the vintage pieces in my collection are my favorite simply because they have so much history and are timeless.

You can find incredible stuff from estate sales, on Ebay or at a flea market for a fraction of gallery costs on a similar new piece. However, don’t forget to do your research: you’ll want to search for pieces that are sterling silver to ensure they’ll stand the test of time.

 

START SMALL.

When you first start your turquoise addiction, I know it’s hard to resist the urge to jump into the deep end of the pool looking for a huge squash blossom or statement cuff. If you’re not in the market for a splurge, start by collecting smaller pieces like rings, pendants or earrings. Not only are they easier on the wallet most of the time, but you can also leverage those small pieces to trade up to a statement piece you REALLY want.

If you invest in quality pieces, you’ll have a great shot at finding a buyer for them if you ever decide to sell or trade for other things. I’ll give you a recent example: I bought a small, vintage squash blossom on Ebay that I paired with another small piece I acquired earlier in the year. I traded both of them for a squash blossom I was completely head over heels for, and ended up saving around $650.00. It’s really just a waiting game and being smart with where you put your money.

 

LAYER SMALL PIECES.

While I’m totally obsessed with the huge statement pieces (aren’t we all?) my collection is still mostly made up on smaller rings, pendants and necklaces. Of course it would be nice to put on one GIANT piece and be done, you can create so many different looks by layering your small pieces together.

I love to mix single-strand necklaces with bolos and petite squash blossoms, or stack rings and bracelets until there’s no room left on my hands. You will still look stunning and can constantly change up the look by swapping pieces. I personally like to look at it as a style challenge: what can I create that I haven’t done before?

 

DON’T WASTE MONEY ON FAUX.

I’m sure I’ll ruffle a few feathers with this one, but don’t buy fake turquoise. If your ultimate goal is to acquire a real, $1800.00 squash blossom, why are you spending $150.00 on one that has no investment value or artistic character? I get it – the look is in, and everyone wants to rock a huge squash, but there’s more to it.

When you buy fake turquoise, you take away business from jewelry artisans and native people who have been perfecting their craft for generations. It’s impossible for them to compete with fast-fashion and Chinese manufacturing, plus it devalues their original designs that are being knocked off. If you love the culture, make a point to support it too – even if that means waiting awhile to rock your dream squash. I promise it will feel so much better when you’re wearing that piece you’ve been dying over forever knowing it’s 100% authentic.

 

SHOP PAWN.

Being from the midwest, it took a trip to Texas and a few good tips on where to shop for me to have my pawn shop epiphany. Obviously, you can’t walk into any pawn shop looking for turquoise, but if and when you’re in the right area, it’s worth the pit stop.

There are pawn shops throughout the southwest where you’ll find gorgeous pieces for a total steal. Plus, if you find one you like, it’s totally acceptable to bargain. I don’t know about you, but I love the adrenaline of a good haggle.

 

FOLLOW YOUR FAVORITE ARTISANS.

I’ve made a point to follow my favorite makers all over social media, even if I’m admiring from afar most of the time. So many have their own pages and even VIP groups you can join if you’re a diehard fanatic, where you get first dibs on new items or a heads up on sales.

Even if the merch is too expensive for your regular budget, you never know when you might be sitting on a pile of cash just in time for a sale on that piece you’ve been needing in your life. Besides being in-the-know on sales and new things hitting their shop, it’s an added bonus to be able to have the inside scoop and interact with artists you look up to. How cool, right?

 

JOIN TURQUOISE TRADING GROUPS.

This was a game changer for me while hunting for the perfect next piece for my collection. There are SO many turquoise traders on social media who have already done the hard work of finding amazing pieces and are posting them in one place for a fair price. I have a few favorite traders you can find on Facebook:

Cholla’s Turquoise

Rowdy Cowgirl’s Jewelry Closet

Texas Gals Turquoise

Also, if you’re joining a swap page, some folks are just looking to clean out their personal collections or trade for something they like more, so you’re able to put your own goods out for sale or swap as well. It’s so fun to be apart of the western jewelry community and interact with other people who love the art as much as you do – you’ll probably learn a lot too!

 

I hope these tips were helpful for all you turquoise-obsessed ladies out there. Remember, don’t be discouraged because you can’t afford what other girls are buying – just be savvy about your purchases and you’ll be rocking what you’ve got, I guarantee it!

Second Hand Chic – Resale Style For Spring

Hey Everyone!

Wow, this last month has been a total whirlwind – sorry for my absence. I’ve got a lot of exciting things happening right now, and I can’t wait to clue you in! In the meantime, I’m running around like a crazy person with a to-do list five pages long.

Last weekend, Marshall and I got to take a trip down to one of our favorite places – Fort Worth, Texas. We were only in town for a few days, but I got to work on some fun projects with influencers and brands alike. One that I was most excited for was visiting The Resale Secret in Weatherford.

It’s no secret that you secondhand fashion is the biggest hack to finding amazing pieces on the cheap. Who doesn’t want to walk out of a resale shop with a gorgeous Double D Ranch jacket or Old Gringo boots? Needless to say, I was totally in heaven when I walked through the door.

While shopping second hand is fun and affordable, I know a lot of girls get overwhelmed with where to start. Sometimes you have to do some digging to find pieces that really shine and bring out your personal style. So, I put together five outfits created, almost exclusively, from second hand items. Note: if you love these styles, they’re available at The Resale Secret store!

The owner, Kim, is originally from Iowa, so we immediately had something in common. I love running into midwestern natives who love western fashion. She carries straight and plus sizes, designer and boutique brands, and will even take some pieces you’re ready to part with. If you aren’t local to Weatherford, you can get in on the goods through her live Facebook sales too – make sure to go give The Resale Secret a like after you see the outfits I put together in store!

 

FESTIVAL BRIGHTS.

Y’all already know my love of color – the louder, the better. This bright, bell sleeve dress was the perfect way to build a hippie approved festival look around. I paired it with a leather fringe vest to balance the bold colors and add another layer of boho flair to the look.

I finished it off with a pair of leopard booties, some vintage turquoise and my favorite cobalt blue fashion hat. While the turquoise was from my personal collection, Kim also has a hand-selected stock of vintage turquoise jewelry to choose from as well!

 

PEARL SNAP PUNCH.

In need of a little fun? This outfit is the perfect punch of playfulness for a chic daytime look. I recycled the same booties from the festival look with suede leggings and my Rodeo Fashion Stole My Smile tee from Styled By Sterling. (check her out on Insta!)

The punch on this outfit really comes with this vintage Scully button down. I saw it on the rack and knew it would pair perfectly with my cobalt hat and a bright statement necklace. I’m always down to put a little punch into my outfits – I totally loved this look!

 

CHAMBRAY BLUES.

Here’s a softer look for you ladies who love denim and neutrals together. I started by pairing this satin tee (best thing ever, by the way) with an embroidered chambray shirt. I tied it up to give a little more flair and separate the denim elements. Paired with the perfect pair of distressed jeans and a pair of funky boots, this look is laid back and luxe at the same time.

To finish off this look, I added a sterling squash blossom, a spiny oyster cuff and a few small statement rings. To top everything off, I threw on this vintage cowboy fedora – it really brings together any look.

 

SATIN SENORITA. 

Oh, hello color. It’s good to see you again! This adorable Johnny Was peasant dress is a perfect spring statement piece. While you could dress it down with some neutrals, that’s just not my style – I decided to pair it with some purple boots and a clutch to match. I’m all about the vibrant, Mexican-inspired vibe and I really wanted to play it up by adding tons of color and spice.

Also, can we talk about this turquoise bear claw necklace? I fell in love with it behind the case and Kim was kind enough to let me model it with this outfit. I love finding unique native art pieces – what an awesome piece for someone’s collection!

 

NASHVILLE REBEL.

Something about this look reminds me of the Nashville music scene – a little vintage, a little boho, and a lot hip. Starting with another fun Scully pearl snap layered over a crochet-neck tank, this ensemble has fun and classic appeal built in. Add in a pair of distressed jeans, leopard booties and a cowboy fedora for extra cool.

I’m obsessed with the details in this Scully pearl snap – check out the rose embroidery, button detail and green piping – a perfect piece for spring! One of my favorite ways to layer for unpredictable weather is to repurpose rodeo shirts for fashion.

 

I hope you guys found some inspiration to hit your favorite resale store for some fun spring finds – which look was your favorite? Until next time, thanks for reading and stay unique, sisters!

The Rodeo Mrs. Takes Texas

Hi Friends!

After two weeks of running around in Texas, I’m finally settled back home in our 20 degree weather. I’m coming to you today from my favorite hometown coffee shop, eating homemade tomato soup and grilled cheese…hey, not everything about Iowa winters sucks, right?

I tried my best to keep everyone updated on Instagram, but I know I missed a lot too, sooo… I decided to do a fun trip wrap up to let y’all know what I’ve been up to lately.

We drove down Tuesday night in an ice storm, which was interesting. The way southerners react to winter weather compared to the midwest is pretty funny…I’m talking going 5 mph on the interstate, closing down businesses and booking a hotel because the power’s been out for an hour. In our neck of the woods, you might be without power for a week, making grilled cheese sandwiches over a fire, but I digress.

We ended up pulling off in Oklahoma City to ride out ice storm mania and finishing the drive to Weatherford in the morning. We stayed with one of my influencer friends, Brandi Michelle of Western Atelier. (Go check her out on Insta if you don’t follow her already!) She was gracious to host us for two weeks and show us around Fort Worth as a local, which was awesome.

The next two days we spent in the Fort Worth Stockyards, or “Northside” as the locals call it. We spent a lot of time visiting with businesses and scouting out locations for a photoshoot later in the week. For those of you who have never been to the American, the Stockyards are a mad house the entire weekend. One of the store managers told me it’s busier than Black Friday. So needless to say, everyone was busy keeping up with the business rush. We ran into so many familiar faces, influencers and brands alike – it was great to see everyone again!

Saturday, we were back in the Stockyards again, but this time, just to enjoy the action and meet up with more people. I actually ended up running into one of my best friends who moved to Kentucky to train futurity horses. I haven’t seen him since Christmas so it was a great surprise! That afternoon, we watched the Denim & Velvet fashion show and hung with some of my favorite models. Katy Jade and Janzen did a fabulous job putting it on!

Sunday was obviously the American, so we took it easy with a late brunch before heading over to AT&T that afternoon. Not gonna lie, it’s hard to meet up with people in that arena. I’m pretty sure I made my step count three times over just trying to figure out where everyone was at. But, once I found everyone, it was well worth the walk. The American is one of my favorite rodeos of the year, just for the sheer magnitude and seeing rodeo put on such a big stage. It gives me all the feels when I look down on the arena, and that’s what it’s all about.

Monday was probably one of the highlights of the trip for me. I’d been stressing my butt off putting together a photo shoot from 1000 miles away, but it was SO worth it! I’d been wanting to do an influencer edition of my Style For Every Body series, and I couldn’t have picked a better group of ladies to represent the message. We worked with fabulous stores and had a perfect day to shoot everything. Having such a great group of models made all the difference…there’s nothing like having your own personal cheer section with you’re in front of the camera, let me tell you!

On Tuesday, I ran around Fort Worth for business meetings, then that evening, Brandi and I hosted a Western Round Table where we bring everyone together to talk western industry topics and lift up other western bosses building their businesses. It was so great to get to know more people in our corner of the industry. If you’re a blogger/influencer/boutique/brand/designer/photographer (takes deep breath) go join our Western Media Round Table group on Facebook – our next discussion is on April 6th!

We were actually supposed to go home on Wednesday morning, but I ended up extending my trip to attend the Bodacious Babes of the West Conference over the weekend. There were 30 or so of amazing western boss babes all in one place to learn new business strategies, make connections and have a little fun. I learned so much and made some new friends, which was a fabulous end to our trip. Thank you to Kaylee and Brooklyn for organizing it!

In case you didn’t know, there’s an AWESOME giveaway connected to this blog post – I can’t tell you what it is just yet, but you definitely don’t want to miss out!

Head on over to my Instagram (the_rodeo_mrs) and DM me the answer to these four questions to be entered in the drawing:

  1. Who did I stay with in Texas?
  2. What was the name of my influencer collab blog post?
  3. Name one thing I wore to the Bodacious Babes conference
  4. Where did we have to pull off due to an ice storm?

I’ll be announcing the winner this Saturday at 12 pm, so stay tuned!