Wyoming FFA members bring talent, creativity to the table in starting business
Lyman – It all began as a country Christmas gift. Shaun and Briar Harris have a Christmas tradition of giving jewelry to their daughters Shaunte, Rachelle and Madison, each year.
While cleaning cupboards that fall, Briar came upon numerous bullets and bullet shells, a somewhat regular occurance in most Wyoming homes, but the idea Briar had wasn’t just a regular idea. When her husband returned home from a hunting trip that evening she shared the idea of using the ends of the shells to make earings for their daughter’s Christmas presents. Being a capable craftsman, Shaun agreed that the idea was good, and their construction of the earings began.
On Christmas morning, the girls ripped open their gifts and fell in love with what they found inside. They put the earrings on and wore them through the duration of Christmas break and to school the first day it was back in session. Upon their return from school that January day, the girls already had received several orders for the glitzy ammunition earrings. From that day, almost a year ago, the orders have not stopped coming in.
With a solid knowledge for good business, for which they credit their FFA chapter, the Lyman girls began Sassy Brass. Every day afer school they were cutting empty casings with tin snips, grinding them with a belt sander and placing Swarovski crystals in the center. Of course they didn’t do it alone. Their youngest sister Madison, 13, and little brother Jason, seven, helped, too.
Broadening the scope
In March, the older of the two sisters, Rachelle, 17 at the time, decided it was time to introduce their creation to retail markets.
Escorted by their father, she drove to Casper to approach businesses. They began with a locally-owned sporting good store. The manager made an order on the spot. Rachelle could hardly contain her excitement as they reported home and went on to the next store.
By the end of the day they had to discontinue asking businesses because no businesses declined their offer. Rather, each store put in an order that day. The Harris sisters knew that their business had reached an entirely new level.
May was another high point for the newly-founded company when they were invited to host a booth at the National High School Finals Rodeo in Rock Springs. The girls accepted the offer and were able to send Sassy Brass apparel home with cowboys and cowgirls from Canada to Hawaii and almost every state in between.
Starting with a dream
The Harris sisters consider their newfound business a blessing.
The oldest, Rachelle, states, “Although there is a lot of responsibility and it can be hard to juggle at times, it is so rewarding to watch an idea and a dream take off and turn into a successful business.”
Shaunte especially appreciates the mentorship that comes along with the business.
“We see so many people who are older and wiser with so much more experience who struggled through business, yet they have worked their whole life to gain such success. Here I am at 17 already gaining these experiences which will continue to influence the rest of my life,” she says.
Their products are now in 36 stores in five states.
Rachelle will be attending college after she graduates in May and hopes to work toward a degree in agriculture and business marketing to help maintain the success of Sassy Brass.
The sisters also purchased a more advanced machine that clips the casings, grinds them down and ejects the primers.
They have been able to hire three stay-at-home moms to help with assembly.
Help and support
It is rare to find young adults with a good understanding of philanthropic goals, yet Shaunte and Rachelle believe that their business’ success is not their own to claim.
Shaunte expresses, “Our success is due to our incredible Father in Heaven who showers His blessings upon this business and my family along with my amazing parents and family who have allowed me to take those blessings and excel.”
Rachelle echoes Shaunte’s gratitude, saying, “I give credit for our success to my parents who have taught us to be successful physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. They always say, ‘We are not raising teenagers. We are raising successful adults.’”
“I am so thankful that they have stood by that,” she continues. “I also know that without my Father in Heaven, none of this would be possible.”
Their passion for the Second Amendment and wildlife conservation benefit from their attitude of gratitude.
With every earring sold, a portion is donated to organizations that help to encourage those causes.
Their parents express awe of the young entraprenuers stating, “Our daughters are nothing short of amazing. They always have been. They are and have always been extremely responsible. Their work ethic is second to no one. I would hire my girls over most grown men.”
“Their determination has showed through all of their endeavors so when they wanted to begin selling the bullet earrings we were thrilled. Knowing that they would gain knowledge from starting, working and growing their own business that couldn’t be taught in any learning institution,” Shaun and Briar continue. “We are so proud of the women they are becoming. They are determined business women, excellent students, wonderful human beings, but most of all, we are humbled and in awe of their willingness to give back and to serve their Heavenly Father in all they do.”
This year when considering options for buying locally-made gifts, think of the Harris sisters in Lyman creating, marketing and truly paying it forward.
Trinity Lewis a correspondent for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.