#WesternWomenWednesday, Gloria, The Colorful Cowgirl
I have always been a fan of The Colorful Cowgirl and her work. What I did not know, and feel slightly ridiculous for, is how close I have lived to the maker over the years! Anyhoo, check out this traditional art that Gloria has made all her own as The Colorful Cowgirl!
1. Name. Age. Location.
Gloria Hammond (Keys). 40. Nevada.
Name explanation: "Hammond" is my maiden name that I'm trying to transition back to. I built my business under my married name at the time of "Keys".
2. It sounds like you did not always know that building mecates would be your business. Can you tell us a little about that journey?
No I didn't. As a kid growing up I learned and helped my Mom make mecates at around 8 years old , but I didn't think I would make a business out of it 20 years later. I wanted to go to college, and experience the big city, the corporate job, city living. I did just that, and realized that you can take the girl out of the country but you can't take the country out of the girl! My Mom would tell me that all the time when I was growing up, and I was like Mom you’re silly. I didn't believe her until I lived in the the city (San Diego) off and on for 7 years.
Mind you I grew up on a huge cattle ranch 50 miles from Winnemucca Nevada in the rural desert called the Hot Springs Ranch between Golconda and Midas...100 miles round trip to town to the grocery store. So I realized that I couldn't take the country out of me so when I was around 30 I moved back to my roots, and started my mecate business. It just kinda happened.
3. Your brand has been built on breaking the mold of natural colored mecates. What gave you the confidence to perfect this new art?
I've always been a trend setter, and my personality is to give things my personal flair. I think living in the city gave me lots of confidence and ideas. I had the idea in my mind, but hadn't actually made a dyed one. My husband at the time and I were working at the Alvord ranch in SE Oregon, and one of Martin Blacks students asked me to make him a pink and white mecate. So I went home, and figured out how to do it, and made it for him. This was the start of my Colorful Mecates....and it just took off from there.
4. The Colorful Cowgirl is based on a multi-generational cowboy art. What kind of influence does that have on your process and how you operate business?
Yes it is, 4 generations. 200 years of tradition in my family starting with my Great Grandma Clara, then my Grandma Frankie, then my Mom Helen, then me. This has influenced how I do things greatly. I am blessed to have been able to learn from the 2 generations before me, my Grandma Frankie and my Mom. I don't veer too much away from how my Grandmother and my Mom taught me, I have however made some of the steps a little easier. My Grandmother used to get lots of horse hair given to her so she made all profit. Very early on, she got the manes from roaching the military horses. Later on she had to reluctantly buy some. She did not like having to buy horsehair! She would rant and rave and carry on. I on the other hand have to buy most of my horse hair from different sources. My Grandmother would work more on the good ol boy system where she would send customers mecates before they paid for them. She said that she only got scammed one time, lol. I tried that once, and got scammed. So I run mine more like a real business, as the good ol boy system doesn't work so much anymore.
5. What is your favorite piece of tack and why?
A Garcia half breed silver bridle that my Grandfather purchased for me 25 years ago from Capriolas!
6. What tips do you have for other makers trying to balance the creative aspect of their art with the business side of marketing, shipping, inventory, etc?
Tips? Lol. It's a tough balance to be honest, but it's doable. I have found that when you hand make something these days it takes time no matter what you do. People in general lately are conditioned to get it now, want it now, buy it now, from China, or a store instantly. I have found that education about handmade quality artisan work is worth the wait helps this, and also getting out of doing just custom orders and having more inventory on hand for customers to purchase instantly. Social media has made marketing so much easier. As far as shipping, it's a constant struggle. I live 50 miles from the nearest post office, so I use online shipping to print my labels and then my mail lady picks them up for me 8 miles up the road. I also use USPS Priority mail with tracking for everything I ship. I only get mail or have mail picked up 3x a week. It's difficult to balance working on the ranch, life, the things I like to do, customer demands, and being an artisan, but I do it. It took a few years of figuring out what works best for me. Showing horses is something that I like to do, and I can advertise at the same time.
7. How do you motivate yourself when you're in a creative slump?
I don't. I don't like to force things. I know that my creativity will come back. Creative slumps are usually caused by something in your life bringing you down. So I do alot of grounding, energy clearing, spiritual work to keep my energy flowing.
8. Do you feel like the internet has helped you connect with your ideal clients?
Absolutely the internet has helped me connect with ideal customers, and helped in other ways too.
9. What do you listen to in the shop?
Shop? Lol. I make these mainly in my backyard. So birds chirping, cars going by, jets flying over, cows bawling, horses nickering. Sometimes I will crank The highway on XM radio to listen to from my living room. On a peaceful day, just the birds. Starting this winter I will have a workshop to make them in, which will be a first in a long time. It's always exciting to have an indoor workshop. It takes atleast 80 feet in length of floor space to make a full mecate.
10. What is your favorite quote?
Dance like nobody's watching like dew on the tips of a leaf.