Califonia Bountiful

It's a bountiful life: Rodeo couture

Nov./Dec. 2012 California Bountiful magazine

Up-and-coming designer Quincy Freeman gives traditional rodeo attire a fashionable flair.

Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, senior Quincy Freeman gives traditional rodeo attire a fashionable flair in her designs for Ariat, a leading manufacturer of Western boots and attire.

How did rodeo become part of your life?
I was born into a rodeo and ranching family and grew up on a ranch in Reedley. Mom and Dad both grew up doing rodeo. Mom actually competed while she was pregnant with me. I didn't start competing until high school, and then I really fell in love with the sport.

How did you start designing for Ariat?
In high school I fell in love with art, too. By senior year, I combined the two by painting my belts and horse packs and using them at rodeos. At the national high school finals, I caught the eye of reps from Ariat—a big sponsor. Right after I started at Cal Poly as an ag communications major, they wanted to fly me to Ariat's headquarters in San Francisco to meet with them and come up with concepts to design my own line of clothing, belts and boots. So it was a dream come true.

What sparks an idea or inspiration?
I just design stuff that I've always looked for growing up, blending mainstream fashion with traditions of the West. I try to throw a little fringe in, but bring back some American Indian. Vintage boots and clothes are where I get a lot of my ideas. Also, I draw on the Spanish heritage from my mom's family.

What was it like to finally hold a pair of boots that you designed?
Mind-boggling. It was just surreal because I didn't have a lot of experience and Ariat took a chance on me, and it ended up working.

Continuing the conversation with Quincy Freeman…

What's your favorite rodeo event?
It depends on the day. Honestly, I love each of the events. I compete in all the women's events, including roping, barrel racing and goat tying. I started with roping and riding cutting horses in high school.

What's your favorite horse?
I have a few! The one I compete on now, his name is Lex and he's a sorrel calf horse. He looks like the Incredible Hulk—big and bulky.

How do you create the designs for Ariat?
Ariat has the ability and resources to make anything I design on paper. So I draw up the design, get the measurements and draw out the idea. They put it on the computer and screen print it out onto leather to add embroidery. It's amazing to see it go from down on paper to actual boots. Sometimes it doesn't turn out exactly how you want it to the first time, so there's a few rounds they go through.

That sounds like a lengthy process, from paper to computer to finished product.
It takes 18 months for a product to hit the store from the design stage. By that time, I'm worried about it being out of style!

What's coming up?
I've got a whole new line of boots, including children's boots, scheduled to come out in the fall of 2013.

What do you see yourself doing after graduation?
I'm an ag communications major, so I talk a lot. I'm not 100 percent sure, but Ariat has given me a taste of the Western fashion industry and I'd love to stay in it somehow—whether it's designing more or marketing clothing. It's the best of both worlds for me because I get to be around rodeo and all these people that are dear to my heart and do what I love. I'll definitely stay in ag somehow.

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