Sierra Rae Lewis is a student at West Texas A&M with a passion for western fashion. A mass communication major, she hopes to use her degree to enrich her life and accomplish some challenging goals.
“I have always wanted an amazing career no matter what it is.That has always been really important to me,” she said.
“I would like to have my own brand out some day in something, I love how a brand works, what it is, what it does. Just a lot of fun and amazing career success, whether it be on, tv, magazines, the western industry, or fashion. I also want to be really fulfilled personally, whatever that turns out to be one day.”
Sierra is known most famously for her presence on social media, and as a fashion blogger for The Bleacher Babe Squad.
“For me, becoming a ‘fashion role model’ on social media really was not a choice, it kind of just happened. I always posted pictures on Instagram, people always loved the “outfit” pictures in particular, and then especially at rodeos,” she said.
“I was just kind of known for liking fashion, always dressing up, having cute outfits. I did a ‘Bleacher Babe Report’ for The Bleacher Babe, a lot of people read it, I got compliments on it for like a year after. I talked about rodeo as a sport, western fashion, and just who I was.”
When asked to describe herself, this is what Sierra had to say...
“I truly don't think about it too much,” she said. “I would hope though if someone else was to describe me they might use words like, smart, funny, outgoing, well-spoken, kind, and a “go getter”. Oh, of course fashionable too!”
Some of Sierra’s favorite brands are Wrangler, The Lace Cactus, and Vintage Boho Loves Louis.
“I could go on and on. Obviously in the western world you have your classics like Wrangler,” she said. “Wrangler is also doing so much more than basics these days! I think they are a brand that has stood the test of time, obviously. All the new more ‘trendy’ yet still very classic stuff they are putting out is amazing, I love it.”
Sierra is one of many fashion bloggers working to promote the western way of life, as well as western fashion. Hoping to continue the tradition for years to come.
“The western fashion world is rapidly growing and doing very well right now, so I honestly hope one day I can become a staple in it, no matter what it may be."
It’s no doubt, Sierra will remain connected to the western world in one way or another. Her dad is 11x NFR qualifier Brent Lewis.
“My whole life has been supported by the sport of rodeo and the cowboy way of life,” she said. “I grew up on the rodeo trail until he retired officially in 2005 from a professional calf roping career.”
However, despite retirement, the Lewis family stays connected to their rodeo family.
“When a rodeo person refers to their ‘rodeo family’ there is nothing over-exaggerating about it, we truly are a family,” she said. “I’ve know most of those people since I was born. We travel together, we eat together, and even when we haven't seen each other in months or years it’s like we saw each other yesterday.”
“It is the most family oriented lifestyle there is."
A mutual love for the horse show industry led Mr. and Mrs. Kimes together, and gave them the know-how to create a denim company in 2009.
“We literally dropped everything and said ‘let’s start a jean company’,” Amanda said. “We were unhappy with our current jobs at the time. We were ready for a change. Mr. Kimes and I knew that we wanted to create something together.”
“A brand, with longevity. Eventually we settled on denim.”
The Kimes Ranch company mission was founded on the principals of providing exceptional customer service.
“Providing a great quality product with exceptional customer service has kind of been the roots of our business since day one,” she said.
This dedication to customer satisfaction has driven sales and helped the Kimes Ranch business explode over the past few years.
“[It’s happened] so fast,” she said. “It is making our heads spin. It is exciting.”
The couple dove into the company head first, and have turned it into a full-time operation.
“We have been doing it so long now, that not doing it wouldn’t seem natural. We work very hard, have long hours, not many weekends, and struggle with a balance between home life and business,” she said.
“But, I think that is normal of anyone with a growing business and a family. We are fortunrate that we love what we do, and that it doesn’t seem like work. We just do what needs to be done.”
With a growing business, comes a growing team.
“We have a huge group of people that work with us during this adventure! From our cut and sew houses in Los Angeles, to our team at the Ranch, to those that assist us in our daily lives,” she said.
“It truly takes a village! Or a giant city! We are unique in that we have full time associates as well as several part time and contracted workers. Our team is constantly growing!”
The Kimes Ranch company started with two pairs of jeans. Now, they have several styles for both men and women.
“In the beginning, we named everything off of a beloved animal on the ranch,” she said. “Betty and Barney, our first two styles, were named after our longhorn cows.”
Naming each new style is fun for the Kimes family, each unique and original.
“They are all exciting and fun. Like children,” she said. “We love each style differently.”
Although each style is loved differently, Amanda’s favorite style is the Bonnie.
“The Bonnie is a great jean in the saddle all day. I literally sat in a saddle all day during the Americana Tradeshow in Germany, I was rocking the Bonnie and shortie boots,” she said. “The jeans are all designed with functionality in mind. So they are all great in the saddle!”
Outside of work, the Kimes family enjoys spending time together, and in the saddle.
“Mr.Kimes and I are so busy with this business and raising our family, we don’t have too many hobbies at this point in our lives,” she said. “But, our children are beginning to ride frequently and compete on their own. I see horse showing in my very near future!”
Breann Jae Beasley grew up in Buffalo, Wyoming, with strong ties to the western industry.
“My dad and brothers are all country musicians, and they all rope, ride, and rodeo,” she said. “We all grew up in the saddle, but I stopped rodeoing consistently after my sophomore year of high school.”
She still attends the occasional Johnson County Fair performance with her family.
“We dominate the ribbon roping and the rescue race, no big deal.”
Breann makes most of her living by means of the western industry, and started her own leather company with some successful skills she learned from her dad.
“Growing up, I watched him run his own successful leather company,” she said. “He’s seen me apply myself in a lot of different professional arenas but always knew I wasn’t truly happy.”
“My dad is a big proponent of taking initiative, developing skills but most importantly encouraging me to capitalize on natural talent.”
As her leather teacher in 4-H, Breann’s dad pushed her to try her hand at making leather purses seven years ago. She was fresh out of college, and had just left her first ‘real job’... looking for the next step.
“He’s always said ‘don’t be afraid to be your own boss’, took me 32 years, but I finally took his damn advice.”
Now, as a full-time custom leather company of one, Breann spends her time dreaming up new designs and creating something completely her own.
“Being your own boss is a double edged sword. I love that I’m making something that is truly mine, and making my own schedule, but therein lies the problem as I am never really “off work” anymore,” she said.
“I am pretty sure it’s all I talk about, because it’s all I can think about… it’s something I’m very proud of and super passionate about. But I’m probably kind of a pain in the ass to be around for long periods of time right now, unless you get a beer in me and I can chill out.”
Let’s be honest, there could never be another Breann Beasley. And as such, she needed a business name that was just as unique.
It was in the cosmetic aisle of Wal-Mart that the name dawned on her: Saddle Tramp Brand.
“I always had my iPod plugged in and on shuffle… and Corb Lund’s ‘The Only Long Rider I Know’ came on and there’s a line in there that says ‘saddle tramping the world on the wind like a stranger’ and I’d heard that song countless times, but right then it really resonated with me, and it still does,” she said. “It was an ‘ah-ha!’ moment.”
Breann describes her Saddle Tramp style as realistic, and creates one-of-a-kind pieces with perfect regard to detail and coloring.
“I like clean, life-like imagery… or at least that’s my natural style,” she said. “I actually think I would burst into flames if I were ever tasked with making something abstract, but I can certainly appreciate the style.”
Her favorite piece to make was a retro-looking guitar strap, and a quite vocabularily ‘abstract’ belt.
“I think my favorite piece thus far was a guitar strap I made for a musician friend up in Bozeman. He had a very specific aesthetic he was going for and he wasn’t afraid of color so I got to splash out a bit, and then I buckstitched it, so it had this really great kind of 1940’s-50’s western feel to it,” she said.
“I made a belt the other day with the F word on it (my favorite word), and I combined classic floral tooling with full color scene and that was pretty great too, though.”
I think Breann put it best when she said...
“Always a new creative horizon!"
Kirstie Marie Jones grew up on the back of a potbelly pony in West Linn, Oregon.
“A feisty bay pony with a potbelly taught me everything I know about people, and almost everything I know about myself,” she said. “She was cunning, naughty, and wickedly smart.”
“Razzy taught me everything. We did events ranging from dressage and jumping to showmanship and team penning. She would barrel race, trail ride, gallop down the beach, and horse show all day long. That pony was worth her weight in gold.”
After she graduated high school, Kirstie packed up and moved to Fort Wort to pursue her college education.
“I earned a scholarship to ride horsemanship for Texas Christian University’s women’s equestrian team,” she said.
While pursuing her finance degree, Kirstie also learned to ride and show reining horses. It was also during this time that she discovered a passion for photography.
“A few of my roommates had nice cameras and I loved to borrow them. I had no intention of becoming a photographer, I simply knew I liked nice pictures and wanted them for myself,” she said.
During her senior year of college, she bought herself a fancy camera for Christmas, and the rest is history.
"While I was home in Oregon for Christmas break, I practiced with my new camera by taking pictures of the horses in my parents’ front pasture. I realized horses were the only thing I wanted to take pictures of because they were the only thing that mattered to me,” she said. “I started calling my friends and asked them if I could take pictures of them with their horses and I was hooked.”
“I had a passion for trying to capture the bond between a girl and the horse that meant the world to her.”
This immeasurable bond between a girl and her horse was undoubtedly sparked by her own equine soulmate.
“I had a once-in-a-lifetime horse. An equine soulmate who was my entire world. I had to sell my show horse when I left for college and a huge part of my heart loaded into that horse trailer with him,” she said. “From the moment that I picked up my camera, my only passion has been to capture the love between a girl and her horse. Moreover, to show the relationship between a horse lover and the horse that changed her life.”
In the spring of this year, Kirstie was able to take her passion for photography full-time, and isn’t looking back.
“I built my business on the side for four years while I was an investor relations associate for an asset management firm in Dallas, Texas,” she said. “In the spring of 2017 I was able to take my photography business full time! It has been an incredible experience.”
Kirstie’s photography expertise is treasured across the country, with customers ranging from the West coast to the East coast. She also distributes content to over 35,000 Instagram followers.
After receiving several inquiries on her social media pages, Kirstie decided to add a learning component to her photography business, KMP Learn.
“Several years ago a good amount of my social media followers were budding photographers with plenty of questions,” she said. “For months I tried to answer everyone’s questions individually. When I realized many people had the same inquiries, I decided to dedicate a space to answer frequently asked questions to help those who were asking, and anyone else who stumbled upon my page!”
In the future, she would like to offer online courses, e-books, and workshops to other photographers. However, her current focus is on her customers.
“Right now, my heart and focus is on the women and horses that I get to photograph,” she said. “I want to provide them with the best experience possible.”
Kirstie truly embraces her passion, and when asked about her favorite shoot… well...
“I could never choose a favorite. Just thinking back over the past four years has me naming about 100 sessions that were incredible,” she said. “I often leave a photoshoot completely invigorated on an emotional high -- sometimes I can’t even fall asleep that night!"
Daniel McIntosh started Warbonnet Hat Works in November 2014.
“I have always enjoyed working with my hands and creating things unique and custom and it just seemed to fit me,” he said.
The name came from a blend of personal meaning and marketability, two defining characteristics of a strong business.
“I really wanted a name [I could] market, but also meant something to me. I liked the play on words and the Cowboy/Indian reference with the logo worked well together,” he said. “I am part Irish and Native American, and the hats the Irish and scottish used to wear in battle were called war bonnets.”
Run by Daniel and his wife Brooklyn, Warbonnet Hat Works focuses on customer satisfaction.
“We really base our business off of customer satisfaction,” he said. “Being able to make something for our customers that no one else will have, that’s unique, and fits their style and personality.”
Since founding the business three years ago, the couple has seen tremendous growth; not only in sales, but as an online presence as well.
“When we started, I really thought this would be a local based business and it exploded almost overnight on social media,” he said. “The first year we made 75 hats, the second year about 250, and this year we will make around 500 or more. It’s been crazy to see all the places we ship hats to, all over the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Australia.”
When he’s not making hats, Daniel works full-time as a petroleum landman.
“I am really working hard to make this my fulltime job,” he said. “It gets a little crazy trying to manage everything day in and day out. I spend a lot of late nights in the hat shop getting orders done.”
Although Daniel has made his fair share of hats, like most creatives, he could never pick just one favorite.
“I don’t think I can pick just one, we are honored to be able to work with some really creative people in building their hats,” he said. “We have made hats for state representatives, military, police, firefighters, and several musicians like the band that was Dolly Shine and Red Shahan."
The Lead Change is a blog series dedicated to the cowhorse cowgirl. A rare blend of strength and femininity, she is tenacious, fearless, and determined to break down barriers. This is her story.
From the first time that Sandy Collier stepped into a stirrup, she was destined for an unknown greatness.
“I’ve been riding horses since I was six years old,” Sandy said. “I took lessons from a German riding instructor on the East Coast, learning to jump. I eventually went into three-day eventing.”
“I remember a great big grey horse I had. I thought I was jumping the moon on as we flew over poles on the ground,” she said with a laugh.
Despite her english background, Sandy moved to California and began training wild mustangs for a ranch on the coast. It was there that her love affair with cowhorses began, and her show career on the west coast began.
“When I left that ranch I really had to earn a living, it just made sense to be a horse trainer. I knew I had the foundation and history to do so.”
Sandy spent a year with cowhorse trainer Tom Shelly, learning and growing as a trainer, before starting out on her own in 1979.
“It’s a lot different now than it was then,” she said. “All of the trainers had their “behind the barn” tricks and secrets, and nobody wanted to share them. Nowadays, people have clinics and write books, and are a lot more open with their training experience.”
As a young trainer, Sandy knew she had to be on the top of her game to compete in the industry.
“I felt like I had to be two points better just to tie the others. I just kept knocking on the door and eventually poked my head through,” she said.
And boy did she!
In 1993, Sandy won the prestigious NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity on Miss Rey Dry. The first and only woman to ever do so.
“Back when I won, it paid out around $30,000,” she said. “Today it pays $100,000.”
Along with Miss Rey Dry, Sandy has had the opportunity to ride some truly incredible horses. This list includes AQHA World Champion Sheeza Shinette, NRCHA Hackamore Classic Champion Taz Precious Peppy, and NRCHA Stallion Stakes Champion Quannah San.
Yet, despite this impressive equine resume, Sandy doesn’t have a favorite.
“There have been so many that I’ve loved. I had a horse when I was a kid that just got me so hooked, we were such a team. We grew up together and I learned to ride and jump, and he holds a special place in my heart,” Sandy said.
“Sheeza Shinette got shipping sickness on her way home from winning the AQHA world, and she had such a heart, she wasn’t giving in. She had hoses and IVs and everything coming out of her, and I just broke down in tears. She showed the same heart and try in beating the illness, as she had in every ride. She was such a special horse.”
“And Miss Rey Dry, so elegant and such an athlete!”
“But, I don’t have a favorite one. So many of them have shared their lives, and their heart, and their journey with me that it would be hard to pick just one out.”
This journey has been a lifetime of learning for Sandy, who feels that she will never fully be through with her equine education.
“The thing that’s kept me hooked with the horses it’s that you never really arrive. There’s always something to learn.There’s always something your horse can teach you. You can become very skilled, but mastery takes a lifetime to achieve,” she said. “You’re always striving to get better, and if you’re not, then you’ll never run with the top dogs. It’s a really exciting industry to be in.”
Despite her forced retirement from training and showing in January, Sandy still rides and enjoys horses at home.
“I’ve had three knee replacements, and that has managed to slow me down. I also had a neck fusion and a shoulder replacement. My shoulder surgeon told me that it was time to quit,” she said. “There’s no way I could saddle horses and such day in and day out without wearing out the implant. I can still ride, and love to give clinics, but thought I would like to eventually retire with one joint that is still my own.”
“I tell people I skipped the golden years and went right to the titanium ones.”
Sandy now works as a real estate agent for horse properties, gives clinics, and judges. Recently, she and cutting horse legend Barb Schulte (also an honoree in the Cowgirl Hall of Fame) have started hosting women’s retreats and clinics. They focus on developing the mental skills required for peak performance, as well as the technical skills of cutting, cowhorse, and reining.
“We really enjoy sharing, with other gals, all the things that horses have taught us. And then we pull it all together by adding some personal meaning to our lives with horses. The response has been pretty awesome!”
Just a few snapshots from Poly Royal 2017! Planning has already begun for the next year's rendition, and I have a feeling it's going to be better than before.
Social media is one of the most interactive tools at our disposal today, and everyone should be taking advantage of it. With platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and so many more... there are multiple ways for businesses to reach their target audience.
According to Statista, the percentage of people on social media has increased to over 80%. That is a nearly 60% increase from 2008. Furthermore, the number of people on the top social media platforms is astounding (numbers below are represented in millions):
With such a wide audience, it's a surprise when you come across a business that DOESN'T have a social media presence. With the addition of paid ads and business pages, the possibilities are ever-increasing.
Facebook Business pages allow business members to create and modify target audiences that fit within the company's marketing plan, and to choose a monetary amount that fits within their budget. In another study published through Statista, it was found that over 32% of small businesses spend over $100 per week on social media advertising. The risk is worth the reward when you know you are reaching your target customer every time, because you chose them!
Another great tool that has developed recently is the linked accounts feature. On pages like Instagram, you can choose to link your other social media accounts, like Twitter and Facebook, to post to all of the selected accounts simultaneously. It can take the hassle out of copy-pasting to each account, and keeps your accounts cohesive. (However, be careful with this. Your users like new and different content!)
So, what are you waiting for? Contact RockN W Media about creating your business accounts today!
When I got the idea for RockN W Media, I was riding a World Champion American Quarter Horse in the Panhandle of Texas. Not your typical think tank, but it was where I had my best thoughts. I have always dreamed of being a business owner, being my own boss, and enriching the lives of others with my work.
But, let me be the first to tell you, it's hard.
There have been many times when I've wanted to stop, and just give up. Starting your own business comes with challenges, and the first of many being, "Where are my clients?" I halfway expected them to just flock to me after I started this, and finding them has been difficult. But every time I get the slightest glimmer of hope, like an email back (even if it's just to say no)... it means that somebody took the time to read my email or look at my website.
That's what keeps me in the game.
And although this deal is far from being my full time job, I love it because it's mine. So shout out to all of the entrepreneurs out there making things happen. I'll be joining you soon.
Christi was one of my favorite shoots this season, and I think it's obvious to see why. The gorgeous scenery, bright smile, and of course... the ponies. I had the pleasure of riding alongside her for the past few years at the rodeo grounds, talking future goals and bragging on our horses.
Christi graduated from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo with a Bachelor's in Animal Science and a minor in Equine Science. She is a go-getter, and has launched her own company, CR Equine Body Therapy. She specializes in equine massage and rock taping, very beneficial techniques for the health of her equine athletes. She has even worked on professional barrel racer Katie Pascoe's horses.
Good luck on all of your future endeavors Christi!