Have you heard our tagline? “Stick Your Neck Out and Tie One On.” For me, this phrase holds a special meaning and I knew when I started this business it had to be incorporated into the brand. Stick your neck out and tie one on, to me means, taking chances, going for it, and being fearless.
I grew up on a cattle ranch in the Northwest corner of South Dakota. My county was the largest county and least populated in the state. The high school mascot was the Harding County Rancher, which says a lot about the deep roots that tie the community together. I was raised on my family’s cow calf ranch with my brother Seth, mother Connie, and father Lynn Weishaar, who is also a purebred livestock auctioneer. Ranching in South Dakota at that time was like taking a step back into the 1940’s. The area is isolated and we did everything horseback year round. Between ranching, sale barns and rodeos we lived the western lifestyle and I wanted to share that lifestyle with the rest of the world.
I went to South Dakota State University on a rodeo scholarship and after graduating, I went to work for Equibrand for three and a half years. I loved working at Equibrand, but I knew I wanted to do something different and travel while I still could. I had just finished going hard, making it to the WPRA finals and winning rookie heeler (1999). With extra money in hand, It felt like a sign telling me it was time to go for it. So I went and bought a plane ticket, rail pass, a travel book and backpacked all over Europe. I knew it was probably crazy and I needed the money, but I had to stick my neck out there and fulfill a long time desire.
After coming back, I worked for a web development company for a little bit, and then went to work for Western Horseman Magazine, but after ten years there, I started to have major health problems and no one could figure out what was wrong with me. Finally getting a proper diagnosis of Chronic Lyme Disease.
For the next 8 years, I fought the disease and couldn’t manage to do anything besides keep track of meds and doctor’s appointments. As I started to get stronger and stronger, I started to miss having the career portion of my life. I knew this was a good sign, a sign of strength and normalcy returning. I had to have balance in my life after being sick for so long. My talents and my passion were in design and I had experience with fashion through publishing magazines. I’ve always worn wildrags out of practicality. In South Dakota we wore them all winter long. My mom only bought silk. Other fabrics like polyester don’t work well when it’s really cold out, they’re not naturally breathable.
I saw the scarf industry as practical and not that exciting. Most were mass produced paisley prints on beautiful silks - just not fashion forward or unique. I started designing silk scarves using imagery of objects that I felt represented our western culture and ideas and experiences from my past. I started putting designs together in a little grouping and got inspired by that; knowing that I had a line up and decided to get them made. I knew it was a sector in our industry that I could really change for the better. I also knew this was a scalable business model that I could manage myself for quite some time for low overhead and room for boundless creativity. I still do everything myself—designs, shipping, website, social media... every silo of the business. Although, I’m eager to bring on a few new amazing talents this year.
I am so grateful for my growing up on a working cattle ranch, my competitive background in sports and rodeo, my job right out of college that led me to Texas, backpacking trip across Europe and having a family. All these experiences, along with my illness made me who I am today and brought me to this latest adventure… Fringe Scarves. Anytime you make yourself uncomfortable and get out of your box, you will grow in some way… I guess you could say, you stick your neck out.
I was 44 when I started this company. At this age you wouldn't think you would have a problem taking on a new venture, but it isn’t easy at any age. You still worry about failing, people making fun of you, your designs not being accepted. You HAVE to do it anyway, because God gave you a gift, an idea, a nagging in your heart and you must fulfill it. Fear is a terrible thing, you have to stick your neck out and look it in the eye. So, in 2018 I started Fringe Scarves and haven’t looked back. Everyday is fun, scary, intimidating and a lot of hard work, but worth it all! My hope is our scarves will put a smile on your face and give you a little encouragement to Stick Your Neck Out and Tie One On!
Don’t Miss Part 2: Starting Fringe Scarves, coming soon!