Chelsea Farmer and her mom, Tammy Morse, work side-by-side creating original jewelry for their business, HorseFeathers Gifts.
“Horsefeathers started in 2009,” says Farmer. “I started an Etsy shop, selling jewelry that I was making with lampwork glass beads. A couple of months into that, my mom got laid off and so we decided to kind of jump in full time.”
Morse adds that her daughter’s business plan started long before that.
“I would buy pony beads and all the small bead kits and that’s all she ever wanted to do,” Morse remembers. “From the time she was 12, she was convinced she was going to have her own business.”
In 2011, the online shop opened a brick-and-mortar location. In 2014, they moved to a three-story space on Main St. in Henderson, Kentucky. This gave them a storefront along with ample studio space.
“We called it HorseFeathers because we wanted a name where people would see it and think, Well what the heck is that? What’s in there?” says Farmer. “We’ve got people from little kids up to 90-year-old men still coming into our store saying, ‘I just wanted to know what HorseFeathers is.’ That’s all we wanted. We wanted people to think, What the heck is that? And then come find out. And it works really well!”
HorseFeathers is a green business. They use recycled metal and reuse and recycle all of their scrap material.
“We recycle all of our metal scraps,” Farmer explains. “They get sent off and melted down to be reused. The metal clay we use is completely recycled. All of our packaging down to our business cards, our mailers, our gift boxes, everything is recycled.”
Customers come to HorseFeathers for inspirational pieces, such as charms with uplifting quotes written on them. For truly unique gifts, HorseFeathers will custom-make items stamped with a name, an important date, or even a word or phrase that’s meaningful between friends or family members.
Some of the most popular items are the retro-style mood rings. Hand-dyed silk wrap bracelets are a signature product of the store. All of the handmade items are a collaborative effort, with Farmer and Morse serving complementary functions in the creative process. Farmer and other staff members come up with the designs and do the beadwork while Morse does the metalworking.
“I make the silver and the bronze from a clay form and also from the wire,” says Morse. “Beat on it, torch it, hammer it. I like to work with that side of it where she likes to put the creation together. So she just kind of points me in the direction…and I go to work with the hammer and the torch and see if I can make whatever it is she comes up with.”
For this mother-and-daughter team, working together is just one of the perks of the business.
“We’re like best friends and we always have been,” says Morse. “When we got in the business adventure, a lot of people said, You won’t be able to do this. Family can’t work with each other. But we do. And we have a really good relationship and we have a lot of fun.”
Note: Since this episode originally aired, HorseFeathers has closed its Henderson storefront. They still attend craft fairs, open pop-up shops, and run an online business at www.horsefeathersgifts.com.
This segment is part of Kentucky Life episode #2017, which originally aired on May 9, 2015. Watch the full episode.