Stepping Out in Style: Fringe Scarves
‘Stick your neck out and tie one on’ is the motto for Jodi (Weishaar) Hendrickson’s business, Fringe Scarves. Since her childhood growing up ranching in northwestern South Dakota, where cows outnumber people, she loved to cut pictures out of magazines and design her own outfits and styles. She has also always loved the western lifestyle that she lived on the ranch. The daughter of Lynn and Connie (Fritz) Weishaar, Jodi grew up near Shadehill and Reva, South Dakota, spending her days horseback helping out with the family’s cow/calf operation. Wild rags were a necessary part of her outfit in the harsh winter climate; she didn’t leave the house without one around her neck!
Jodi attended South Dakota State University on a rodeo scholarship and competed on the Jackrabbit rodeo team. After her graduation she moved to Texas, getting a job with Classic Ropes. Thinking it might be a short term move before returning to her South Dakota roots, she spent three and a half years with them and then took off to chase a dream of seeing Europe.
“That year I made it to the WPRA finals and won rookie heeler,” she said. “I took that as a sign that it was time and I knew I might never have the opportunity again. 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 her adventures, she returned to Texas, married a South Dakota guy and landed a job with Western Horseman. She spent ten years with them, toward the end working as a publisher for a group of B to B magazines, most of which were fashion oriented.
Then her health went downhill, and for quite some time no one could figure out what was wrong with her. Finally she was diagnosed with Chronic Lyme disease. For the next eight years, her life was a battle for survival, a constant blur of managing doctors’ appointments and medication.
When she started to feel a little bit stronger Jodi started missing her career days, but knew she needed to balance a career with continuing to take care of her health. Starting a business that she could run from her bedroom seemed like the best option. Her love for fashion coupled with her ranching background led her to think about scarves. They would be small enough to not take up a lot of space yet with her design experience she could make them bold enough to make a big fashion statement: fancy enough for any dress up occasion and durable enough for practical use too.
“I started designing silk scarves using imagery of objects that I felt represented our western culture and ideas and experiences from my past,” Jodi said. “All of my scarves have a story behind them and have part of my life in them. The stories of my life are woven into them.”
Prickly pear cactus.
All of these and more figure into Jodi’s designs. Using her photography and graphic design skills combined with her keen sense of fashion and love of her ranching roots, she creates unique pieces that are equally at home at the neighbor’s branding or in Times Square. Her patterns are each made in the dimensions of the finished scarves and are custom printed for her on high quality 100% silk and then finished with a ‘hand-like’ rolled hem. She puts thirty to fifty hours into designing each scarf.
“I try to find a retro/crossover vibe with my designs,” Jodi said. “I really want them to be for everyone. I know they’re not cheap; my business is still very small and you have to hit certain numbers to get price breaks. I can’t sit on that much inventory at this point. Hopefully I will eventually get big enough to lower my prices! But I think people look at them more as a treat this way.”
Jodi has also done custom designs besides her regular lineup.
“I’ve done scarves for the 6666’s Ranch, the King Ranch, the American Quarter Horse Association Foundation and others,” she said. “When you start a business you never know where it will take you!”
Jodi started her business in 2018 in a bedroom in her parents’ cabin. It grew quickly, though, and after it exploded into their dining room she rented a construction mobile unit to park beside her barn to locate in. She has shipped scarves to almost every state in the USA as well as to Germany, Australia, Japan, Canada and Mexico. She has also started doing some wholesale business with retail stores, and although she misses interacting with each customer herself it is getting more of her scarves onto people’s necks.
Jodi’s experiences in life all led to Fringe Scarves, and she is grateful for each one of them: growing up on a working cattle ranch, a competitive background in rodeo, backpacking across Europe, raising a family, even her illness; all have made her who she is today and brought her to this latest adventure.
“Any time you make yourself uncomfortable and get out of your box, you will grow in some way,” she said. “I guess you could say you stick your neck out when you do that. Taking on a new venture isn’t easy; you worry about failing, people making fun of you, or 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. Every day 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!”
Go to fringescarves.com to see Jodi’s creations which make great gifts and stocking stuffers.