Dally Girl Leather owner clasps her future with one-of-a-kind purses | TSLN.com

Dally Girl Leather owner clasps her future with one-of-a-kind purses

Nicole Michaels
for Tri-State Livestock News

Shawna Hicks grew up with the smell of leather in the air, and it's followed her to a two-story farmhouse in Meeteetse, Wyoming.

Hicks, the daughter of a Montana saddle-maker, spends some weekends crafting one of a kind leather purses for fellow ropers, neighbors, and women who just want their own look. From slings to larger structured handbags with cut outs and low-key bling, Hicks makes every bag an original.

In the last six years, she has made over 500 purses and none of them are the same.

"I refuse to ever duplicate a purse," Hicks says. "I've run into the problem of one lady liking another's bag. We just work together to come up with a design that suits her without being like the other bag."

She started out making one for herself a few years back. "When I was younger and started carrying a purse, I wanted an eye catcher. Something no one else had. The only way to do that was to make my own. It grew into making bags for my close friends that were unique to them and from there, my business grew."

Her father Dave Calvin used to throw her his leather scraps for projects when she was a child. Her first finished work? A coin purse. She was about eight years old then and now Hicks, a mother of two, married 27 years and a competitive roper, takes custom orders and lets her muse guide the next project.

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"I look at women's purses all the time. Then I mull over how to build styles I've seen. The embellishments are just my personality coming through. I love turquoise, silver, leather, lacing – anything western. I'm a ranch kid from Montana so I think my history comes out."

Her business is known as Dally Girl Leather, named after her favorite roping mare, but her purses are affectionately known as "Shawna bags. "

Hicks displayed almost 50 bags in Cody, Wyoming last weekend at a benefit holiday craft fair.

"I think every purse I make is for someone special," she says. "I do art shows so women like me can have a bag."

Hicks is small town and hardworking. She works in the attic story of her farmhouse and displays her bags in a Meeteetse animal hospital where she has worked for 20 years. "Some afternoons are a kick when local ladies head out to shop."

Winter is a great time to get inventory stockpiled. "I can usually do a nice size bag over a weekend."

Bags range from $120 to $200.

Praise from Dad still means a lot, and the bags pay for recreation and self-improvement. "It's my treat money. I rope on it. I became a realtor this year and used that money to do that, bought a horse trailer, that kind of stuff."

Some purses travel out of state. "I've set up at ropings and done well. I also vacation in Arizona and take horses and purses there too. Pays for my vacation."