Artist Interview: Nifty Gypsy Originals

Hey friends!

Today I’m bringing you a long-anticipated interview with the beatufiul Daniela Cano of Nifty Gypsy Originals. She is such a sweet soul with an eye for design and one-of-a-kind creations that are sure to turn heads.

Read on to hear more about her story and what inspires her creations:

Tell me your story – how did you get to where you are now?

I graduated from a very small town in Texas. It took me a long time to realize what my purpose in life was because growing up my family was less fortunate and we moved a lot. As a youth I was quiet, shy, and a weird kid that didn’t quite fit in with the other kids, so I quickly learned to be creative and found myself designing things.

In high school I got recognition for best welder and received an art award which was unusual since I was female. When I moved from home I attended cosmetology school and gained my license and so I started doing hair and makeup and then found myself painting art on the side.  Soon after that I started a family and worked at a boutique where I started painting to pass the time away; I’d go to their back stockroom and pick out old junk or whatever was laying around at the time and would paint it and in turn the boutique would sell it. As the saying goes “one person’s junk is another person’s treasure”.

After that I learned how to sew on a sewing machine and from there I started incorporating leather and started designing earrings and necklaces and just like that, the beginning of my dream and adventure with ‘Nifty Gypsy Originals’ took off.

What inspires your personal style?

My inspiration comes from everything around me, I like a little bit of anything that stands out. I’m constantly searching for more vintage looks, Native American jewels, and old styles from back in the day; to what’s new and modern. My concept is to incorporate hip and edgy with a western touch and feel.

Tell me about your business – what do you specialize in?

My brand at ‘Nifty Gypsy Originals’ is all about art! It’s anything from handcrafted leather work to canvas work to rustic hand painted furniture, shirt designs; literally anything – the sky’s the limit!

What inspires your work?

I was always fascinated by leather work – the design and the tooling – which is hard and very time-consuming. I’m still learning and trying to master the skill.  To me, painting on leather and creating an accessory from scratch is special and unique!

I get inspired by things that catch my attention, like old buildings and junk, looking at the sky, driving down an empty road or looking at a desert that goes on forever, and the colors that are reflected. My mind is always working and I’m constantly thinking of new things to create.

Once an idea comes to me, I literally drop everything and do it right then while it’s fresh on my mind. the anticipation is so real, which sometimes is distracting because it takes me away from the things that are pressing at the time.

What do you love about Nifty Gypsy?

I feel like early on I was always told what to do, but now that I’ve found  my niche, I get to fulfill my passion in life. I am very happy and ecstatic to work the designs I come up with.  

To me, art is extremely therapeutic. I love the feeling of freedom when I’m creating or am painting while blasting some Bruno Mars music, with my 5 year old son next to me drawing and being artistic like his momma, I love that.  

It may sound cliché but I hope to inspire him and others to follow his or their dream and to not be afraid to use the talent within them and do what they love.

Have there been obstacles along the way to success?

There is a difficulty with social media nowadays when you showcase your work and talent: it’s easily  duplicated, which is extremely frustrating. However, like some say, “Once you put it out there for the whole world to see be ready for it to be copied”.

‘Nifty Gypsy Originals’ has grown into a full time job, to where it’s hard to juggle everything at time. [I’m] catching up on orders, painting for other vendors, creating new products and still being mommy to my son and still finding ‘me time’ at the end of the day.  Despite all that, I honestly cannot complain because I love the fulfillment of being a workaholic and what I get to do on a daily basis.

What are your goals for your business?

My goal is to continue growing [to the point] that my business gets recognized and that hopefully someday Nifty Gypsy Originals could be featured in a magazine like Cowboys and Indians.

Most importantly, I want to branch out and collaborate with other artists and businesses! There is so much talent out there it’s insane. I want to design new things, things that are original and that I love. I love to see babes wearing and showcasing my products!

What would you like others to know about your business?

The thing to know about Nifty Gypsy Originals is that it’s what it says it is: original.  I handcraft everything, I put my heart and soul into everything that I design and it’s meant to be a one of kind. I describe my brand as funky and unique with some edge for those babes who like to stand out like myself and make a statement.  Nifty Gypsy Originals is always open to new ideas.

If you’re interested in ordering from Daniela and Nifty Gypsy Originals, be sure to check out her Instagram and website.

Life In Real Time: Thoughts On A Share-Worthy Life

I wish y’all could see how many times I sat down at my laptop to write this, only to walk away with no words to say. To be honest, I’m not sure I’ve got the words yet but today’s the day to try.

If you follow me on social media, you’ve probably noticed I’ve backed way off posting and sharing my life in the last six months or so. I don’t know how else to describe it except I’ve felt stuck.

Stuck in the revolving door of posed photos, tagged brands and making sure I posted to my story five times every day. Stuck with a heart bent on likes, interactions and feeling crushed when a post underperformed. I started to lose the magic that has always drawn me to the western industry – the preservation of a lifestyle, the personal expression through art, the love of a culture – it all took a backseat to business and keeping up with the Jones’.

When I started to feel suffocated by the very thing I love, I withdrew. I hid inside my own head and tried to refocus. I’ve got a million business diagrams on where I was going to take my content, Pinterest boards filled with style inspiration and hundreds of calls to my mom asking what I’m doing with my life. (thanks Mom, you’re the best)

Truth is, I’m a very private person. My first instinct isn’t to pull out my phone during a memory – I just want to experience it. I’ve always felt strange pulling up Instagram to geotag my location or share what I’m having for breakfast. I just like to live my life in real time. However, I also love to create and I’ve been working on finding a balance between expression and personal experience.

The silence of spending time with myself sometimes drives me insane, but I’ve also learned something worth sharing: your life is yours to live. It’s not for your followers, Facebook friends or subscribers. It’s not for your family, your friends or your neighbors. I’ve learned that what I share online is for me, and I shouldn’t feel obligated to share my breakfast for likes if I don’t want to.

It’s more than okay to sit in silence with your phone in another room. It’s okay to get dressed for the day and not share a selfie. It’s okay to do something kind for someone else without sharing it online. I’m tired of getting my sense of feeling through the reactions of other people. I’m entering a place where I can enjoy, laugh or cry on my own terms.

From this moment, I’m pushing out the voices that say I’m not doing enough, or being enough for others. I’m sharing the things that inspire me, and deleting the things that don’t. sometimes, I’m going to experience life’s sweetest moments without putting it on Facebook Live.

I’m not sure what’s next, exactly, but I’m here. I’m full of inspiration and ideas, and love for the western way of life. I believe your intentions return to you in the form of people and opportunities, so I’m putting out authenticity and love. And I might not give you hours of content, but know what I share, I’m proud of and I believe you’ll be inspired.

Closet Staples For Every Season: Featuring Blush Out West

Hey guys!

If you didn’t see my announcement last week, I decided to dip my feet into the brand rep world. As you’ve probably noticed, I don’t have discount codes floating around my social media, and I’m not promoting brands around the clock. My philosophy has always been, if I consistently love it and my followers will too, I’ll promote it.

With that being said, I found a boutique I truly enjoyed, and decided to take a leap into being a brand rep. With that, I wanted to introduce you to Blush Out West.

Blush has classic, timeless pieces that will suit women of every style and age. They specialize in the stylish staples that every contemporary woman needs in their closet – from luxurious sweaters to fitted blazers, to all the stylish basics that pull everything together. On top of that, they have a fabulous selection of turquoise and silver that are a great start for gal looking to start her collection.

So today, I wanted to share a few of my favorite styles that are currently available on the Blush Out West website, and share a few ideas on how to style each piece. I’ll be linking my picks and some stylish add ons to check out throughout this post – feel free to click on them if you’re interested!

If you fall in love with something, make sure to use my code ANDREA10 at checkout to save a little money on your order.

Let’s get started!

 

DENIM OPEN FRONT JACKET

First of all, I’ve been on a denim high in 2018. When you walk into my closet, I can explain away my six jackets and why they’re not all the same. Also, let’s not even talk about ACTUAL jeans…I have a problem.

However, I’m totally in love with this style of denim jacket because of how relaxed, yet refined it is. Usually when you see relaxed denim, it’s made to be slouchy and very undone. This version, however? Totally classy and easy to go from casual office look to night on the town with the right styling.

For a daytime look, I would style this jacket with a pair of starched trouser jeans, a simple blouse and a touch of bold jewelry. To take it to night, you could easily throw on a cool graphic tee underneath and pair this with a pair of liquid leggings and studded booties. An all around unique piece that will quickly become a staple!

 

STERLING SILVER STACKABLE BRACELETS

Here’s a pick for my gals looking to start building their turquoise collection from the ground up. When I first started getting into jewelry, I started piling up smaller, more affordable pieces that I could then layer to get that grand look I was looking for. These little beauties are exactly that kind of piece!

These are also a great piece for my ladies who like to keep their jewelry clean and simple. If you’re not into the large, heavy pieces, these bracelets are the perfect touch of elegance for any outfit. These would be adorable peaking out of a blazer sleeve or a knit sweater.

Styling these pieces is as easy as throwing them on – they go with anything – even if you’re headed to a team roping in jeans and a tee. If you’re feeling adventurous, check out these earrings to pair for a bolder look.

 

EMERALD COWL NECK SWEATER

Emerald has been one of this year’s hottest colors, and it’s not going anywhere. This sweater is both totally cozy and on trend. You could easily incorporate this piece into a holiday look and then take it into spring without a hitch – plus you get to stay comfy the whole time – that’s a win, hands down.

My sweater collection has been growing out of control this season, but I’ve noticed my trend of buying very neutral fall colors instead of brights. This color has the perfect unexpected touch of color that you most likely don’t have hanging around in your closet currently.

For fall and winter, I would style this piece with a pair of fleece lined leggings and a pair of tall, tan cowboy fashion boots like these. For jewelry, consider adding a touch of white buffalo – the contrast is stunning! When you get to spring, swap leggings (if you’d like) for a pair of destroyed boyfriend jeans and a pair of cowboy mules. Top off the look with a cream or cognac hat, and a mulberry lip.

 

DENIM RUFFLE JUMPSUIT

See…I told you I was having a denim moment. But, how can you not when you see how versatile this piece is. Not only is this jumpsuit adorable, it flatters many body types and can be styled season to season. Definitely another piece you’ll find yourself reaching for on a regular basis.

I love this piece for the light denim – it has such an airy vibe to it. It just screams effortless, which is exactly the effect you’re looking for in an outfit for brunch with your ladies or a laid back Saturday coffee date.

The other great part about the lightness of this piece is the ability to add punch to it, if you feel like it. You could easily punch this up with a pair of snakeskin heels and a fur jacket. Or, if you want to roll with the light feel, just throw a cardigan over top with a pair of booties or sandals in the spring.

 

I hope this feature gave you some style inspiration, and also a clear picture of what to expect from Blush Out West. I’m excited to be partnering with them as a brand rep, and I hope you find yourself inspired to check them out on social media, or even pick up an item.

Remember, if you do decide to make a purchase, use code ANDREA10 at checkout for a discount.

Thank you for reading – feel free to share!

Life Update: Weight Loss & The Fear Of Facing Myself

So, let’s be honest – this post is the elephant in the room I’ve avoided writing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ashamed or shy, but more wondering how I can find the words to say that really convey my feelings on the topic of weight and body positivity in the fashion industry, from my own experience. With that said – here’s my thoughts.

It’s no secret that I want girls to feel good about themselves, no matter what size they find their jeans in. I’ve organized model diversity shoots and put together outfit racks for girls who thought they had no options to look stylish. I’ve written articles on finding your confidence, and given advice to girls who struggled with their bodies.  And over the past two years of blogging, I’ve felt beautiful and confident the majority of the time.

However, I’ve also felt the heaviness of being the size fourteen in a room full of two’s in brand shoots, or feeling on the edge of the industry because I fit into the last size they make. Being a curvy gal in the fashion world takes tough skin and a big personality – but let’s fast forward to today.

 

I lost 40 pounds and counting over the summer, and I feel so awesome. The clothes that never fit are now falling off, I bought (and rocked) a new bikini for the summer and I finally feel comfortable stepping out in a basic tank and jeans without having to adjust them every few minutes. As the girl who gained the freshman 15+50, I’m beginning to remember what it felt like to be me back in high school.

Since I know you guys are going to be asking how, I started intermittent fasting, which has been a game changer for me. I fast for around 20 hours each day, then eat a hearty, balanced meal for dinner that comes out to around 1,400 calories. I also picked up weight lifting and HIIT cardio, which I do 3-4 times per week. For my girls who are impulse eaters or snack when you’re bored, fasting is such a great way to take back control of how you eat and how much you’re putting in. If you want more info, check out my favorite trainer who’s been fasting for years – he breaks it down on his Youtube channel here.

If you’ve never had to lose a significant amount of weight before, it feels a lot like stepping out of a suit you couldn’t take off. You’re still yourself, but you can see and feel what was underneath all along. And while it feels empowering to see change, it also struck fear into me.

How could you possibly feel afraid while becoming who you’re supposed to be?

Ah, that’s the funny thing. When you’re able to see your former self from another body, you realize what you kept about yourself in it. The comfort blankets you covered yourself in are now gone forever, and you’re exposed to the world, whether you like it or not.

I didn’t hide from my body, but I hid from myself inside it.

 

They say be careful what you wish for because you don’t always know what you’re going to get, and that’s how looking in the mirror feels now. You wish for a better version of yourself, but how does it feel when you get there? You climb to the top of the mountain only to realize everyone is looking up at you, wondering what comes next. The comforts of base camp are gone – you’re forced to do more, because the excuses of “I can’t” are gone – you already proved you can.

So here I am, standing closer to my goals than ever, and I’m facing an identity crisis.

If I let go of everything people expected of me, as I WAS, who would I present myself as?

What would I change?

What risks would I take that I thought weren’t possible?

I thought my bright, colorful fashion made me stand out, which it did, but would you believe I was actually hiding from the me I wanted to be behind that? The pieces in my closet I was always drawn to were often a way to keep me from embracing the things I WANTED to be, but thought I couldn’t become. Clothes became a distraction from the goals I was too scared to reach, because I felt inadequate in other areas of my life.

And don’t get it twisted – the person I wanted to be wasn’t a body type. The goals I was longing to reach consisted of more than a clothing size – it went to the core of the person I wanted to be, size unrelated.

I know my bigger girls will relate to this, because it is SO true:

When you’re bigger than average, the pressure is on you to go ABOVE AND BEYOND to have your talents taken seriously. Your body stops serving as a state of being and turns into an obstacle that defines the way you view yourself and the dreams in your heart. I never hated my body – ever – but the inner criticism of my work and my life never stopped. If I did as well as everyone else, or even better, it was never good enough to me because I wasn’t good enough to me.

Now all of the sudden, that obstacle is melting away in front of my eyes, and the picnic that is my doubts, sitting on the other side, is being disrupted. The inner monologue has died down and all I’m left with is my own realization that the potential has always been there, and now it’s free for the taking.

That’s it – all I have to do is walk up and take what I want, but that means taking the next step. Now that all the excuses are gone and the obstacles have fallen to the wayside, all I have left is the choice to level up. It’s time to embrace the person I’ve always been but could never see. It’s time to stop being afraid of the mountain top and get ready to look from the top and see everything that’s possible.

With that, let me send a giant virtual hug to all my girls reading this. Strive to be healthy, and strong and the most vibrant version of yourself, but don’t let your body define your possibilities. Step out as far as you can on the cliff of your dreams and jump head first. It took a weight loss journey for me to see the holes in my confidence, but know you don’t have to wait to be a certain size to DIVE into opportunity. Let your true purpose lead you forward and tear down the obstacles you connect to your body. You’re enough right now, and you’re valued.

So, if you see me rocking blue hair and more leather, don’t think I’m not myself anymore. It’s just a reflection of the person that’s been hiding inside this whole time, but isn’t afraid anymore.

 

Love y’all.

 

 

 

 

Behind The Leather: A Chat With Amanda Richardson Of HDwest

Hey friends!

I’ve got another fun artist interview for you today, featuring the beautiful Amanda Richardson of HDwest.

As a girl who loves both western fashion and art, Amanda has captured my heart with her originality and art style that embodies the contemporary western look flawlessly. I know I’m not the only one in awe over her talent – HDwest has been featured by countless influencers, and is a cult favorite in the western maker community.

If this is your first time hearing of HDwest, you’re in luck – Read below to find out a little more about Amanda, her work and what drives her forward.

 

Tell me your story – how did you get to where you are now?

Oh man in a way I feel like I’ve been training unknowingly for this my whole life. I was a craft store junkie in the early day; from jewelry making, bookbinding, clay, wood work…guess I was kind of a weird kid.

I started painting, sewing and collecting vintage in high school, opened my first Etsy shop about that time and did projects for friends & family. Eventually I came across leather and found a way tie in the things I had picked up over the years and was able to make a business out of it.

Crazy to think I’ve been working with leather for close to 8 years now!

 

What inspires your personal style?

It’s tough to pin point it, I pick up inspiration all over. I’m always on the hunt for cool, funky, old pieces that catch my eye. Any time I travel I check out the local pawn shops and junk stores. Distressed, patinaed, handmade vintage are what it’s all about!

All this kinda makes me stick out like a sore thumb sometimes. I live in Southern California, the style -even western style is very different here. I’ve toned it down some from my Turquoise Teepee days, still a bit different than the crowd just with a few less weird looks at the grocery store.

Tell me about your business – what do you specialize in?

HDwest is hand painted one of a kind (usually custom) leatherwork. I’d like to think it’s a bit out of the ordinary. It’s a one gal show around here, I hand cut from hides, use paint and stain to make items like clutches, necklaces, watchbands and other accessories.

What inspires your work?

Everything. My eyes are constantly open. I find myself taking pictures of things because I like the color palette of what I see or taking screenshots of a certain pattern that catches my eye that I can put my own spin on.

Magazines, catalogs from stores I’d never actually shop at, old photos, textures…sometimes inspiration just pops into my head out of nowhere – It even happens while I’m sleeping! I’ll have to run out back to my shop to paint or build something because I can’t wait until the morning.

What do you love about what you do?

It’s so awesome that I get to do something that allows me to have so much freedom. I don’t know of any other type of profession where one day you’re a painter, next a marketing manager, a designer, photographer, seamstress, shipper…never gets boring and my boss is pretty cool.

Have there been obstacles along the way to success?

Oh yes for sure! Creative block is something that can hit you hard. This year started off with a fellow leatherworker letting me know that she came across a product with what looked an awful lot like my work on it, turned out that it looked similar because it actually was my work. A major company in our industry used a couple screenshots from my Instagram to create a product -very blurry and poorly done to top it off.

Having my work imitated is something that I unfortunately deal with regularly but this was a whole other level -we’re talking thousands of these items all across the world! I kept quiet about it even though it was the exact opposite of what I felt like doing, hired a lawyer who hit em with a cease and desist, they exchanged emails and phone calls for months until production was halted and things were finally settled.

While all of this was going on the wind was sort of taken from my sails and the last thing I felt like doing was sharing photos of work. Definitely took some time to get excited about our industry again, so so thankful to have my momentum back!

What are your goals for your business?

I’d like to figure out ways to grow my business without losing it’s integrity. I’d like to be able to tackle more custom orders without switching to mass produced designs -tricky thing to figure out.

I’d also like to make more of a connection with my audience. I have some customers who have been around since the early days, I know their exact style and have a pretty good idea of what they’re hoping for when they order, I’ve even became friends with a few of them. These days with a larger customer basis it’s tougher to build connections like that.

Do you have any projects you’re especially excited for?

I’m about to start the journey of prepping inventory for NFR! It’s two solid months of nothing but leather from the moment I wake til it’s just about time for bed, I jokingly call it house arrest haha. It’s super intense but such a good feeling seeing everything all come together eventually -that’s the best! I’ll be set up at South Point. Also I’m working on some really fun earrings that I can’t wait to show off!

 

If you’re interested in ordering an item from Amanda, you can order from her website linked here. Also make sure to check out her Instagram as well!

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!