It all started with a moment...
November 23rd, 2016Tweet
There comes a moment in every person’s life where they decide to go forward, stand back, turn left or right—to make a difference and pursue a dream or settle for something comfortable. Cristina Thompson took that leap, in more ways than one.
The moment when a four-year-old little girl, in the middle of a western store, was told that the only color straw hat small enough to fit her was white. The idea originated with Cristina’s daughter, who, upset by her lack of choices, asked her mom if she could make her hat pink, along with an array of other colors. Cristina, who describes herself as “artistic by nature”, agreed only to forgo a tantrum, and decided to attempt to paint her daughter’s hat. Better yet, HAND PAINT her daughter’s hat by mixing her own colors and free handing a bright multi-colored paisley design. And it worked.
After Cristina shared her creation and new hobby with friend Sabrina Frye, she agreed to restore Sabrina’s beloved, ruined felt hat. On September 24, the delivery of the innovative hat deemed the “Leopard Rose,” to Sabrina at an Indiana rodeo caused a stir that Cristina never imagined. Word spread quickly and, “People started asking for my website address, Facebook page, and pricing.”
Cristina decided to tip-toe into the newfound business. “That evening, I began brainstorming a name and created a Facebook page. I also asked a friend who is graphic artist to start tinkering with some of my sketches and come up with a logo.”
It’s in the name…Paisley and Hoss
“Paisley in honor of my daughter’s hat, and Hoss to represent the horses,” explained Cristina.
The next hat, already in the works at the first hat delivery, was for a dear friend, Emily Fisher, the 2014 Congress Freestyle Non-Pro Champion. On October 6th, Cristina drove from her farm in Oxford, Ohio to the All American Quarter Horse Congress to deliver Emmie’s custom hat, deemed “The Mermaid,” and inspired by her faith and love of turquoise and silver. By the end of the day, she had an order from former NRHA president and former OQHA director, Beth Himes and one tall order for the 2016 All American Quarter Horse Congress Queen. “It hit me on the drive home that I had started a business. At that point, it was time to dive in and order a website to be created.”
In less than a week, two Paisley and Hoss custom hats graced the glass cases in the Queen’s booth located in Congress Hall. By the end of Congress, a few other designs debuted in the Congress show pens in various events, and a third queen hat, done in a breast cancer ribbon design, sat upon the head of the newly crowned 2016 Congress Queen Amy Brown.
Each hat Cristina touches requires a different approach. Truly custom and one of a kind, the hats take anywhere from 12 to 40 hours, depending on the design and color complexity. “I mix my own colors so I only work on one hat at a time. Sometimes I’ll work on a hat for 12 or more hours, only stopping when I have completed the hat to a point where I can let it fully dry.”
It’s Change…In My Boots Initiative
On October 22nd, Cristina was at the Queen’s Booth visiting with the queen contestants, when she captured a picture of Autumn Thompson, the Tri-State Queen, giving her new Rod’s Western Palace boots (a queen’s gift by Rod’s to each queen contestant) away to a man in need. Cristina published the photo on the Paisley and Hoss Facebook page writing this message:
"I just have to say - the All American Quarter Horse Congress Queen Contest contestants aren't just beautiful, they are also kind hearted. Autumn Thompson traded in her pair of boots Rod's Western Palace donated to the queen contestants to get a pair in the size of this homeless man that helps out the vendors in Congress Hall behind the scenes. So proud of all of these ladies for the kindness they show him! All American Quarter Horse Congress #QHCongress2016 #GoldenAnniversary #HeartsOfGold"
The post garnered 2,700 reactions, 565 shares, and 132 comments. The viral response inspired Cristina to use the momentum to benefit those in need. The next morning, she started the In My Boots Initiative, and asked Autumn to join her – she then began to challenge the horse community to “Put our boots where our mouths are.”
At its core, the In My Boots Initiative is designed for people to donate used boots to people in need.
“We are so very fortunate to have the means to live the equestrian lifestyle. In the rush of life, we often forget how lucky we are, and take the small things for granted. It’s hard to believe that something as small as a used pair of boots can mean so much to someone – but when you live on the land and you don’t have a pair of sturdy shoes to protect your feet, especially during the colder months, it is one of the things you are most grateful for.”
After introducing the idea to Rod’s owner, Scott Hartle, Rod’s agreed to be the collection point for the initiative at Congress. A large box with “In My Boots” handwritten across the front was placed in Rod’s booth. Once the word started to spread, people started donating their boots.
After Congress, Rod’s has partnered with Paisley and Hoss in an effort to continue collecting donations. A box is located at Rod’s store in Columbus for people to drop off boots or any other closed toed shoes, with donations being picked up weekly by the mission partnering with the initiative. New Life Community Outreach, whose mission is to provide basic necessities to the homeless and those in need, is located just a few blocks from the Ohio Expo Center. Serving over 1800 needy a month, they will distribute the donated footwear to those in need as long as the footwear continues to come in.
“There was such a response to the initial post – it is my hope that everyone that thought it was a great idea will pay it forward by starting their own collection, or at the very least, dig through their closets and give the boots they no longer wear. It’s as simple as this: put out a cardboard box at a show, gather boots, and find a local mission to make a difference in your area. Spin it into a youth association, 4-H, or FFA community service project, whatever fits you and what you do in your life,” urged Cristina.
It is Innovative…
Since her business launched about two months ago, Cristina has settled into her new role as an entrepreneur, business owner, and creator. In addition to custom hats, Cristina is slowly releasing a t-shirt line featuring some of her designs, including those showcasing classic country songs. Her works have been deemed to be “trendsetting,” and on the Paisley and Hoss Facebook page, Beth Himes stated that “This is going to be the new Reiner trend!”
Shorty’s Caboy Hattery, a long time Congress Trade Show exhibitor and custom hat business based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, featured Cristina’s designs at the AQHA World Show, will be highlighting the hats at the NRHA Futurity in OKC, and will also feature her hats at the National Rodeo Finals in Las Vegas next month.
Her designs will also grace the Rose Bowl Parade with the Seven Oaks Farm Miniature Therapy Horses.
“The response is just unreal,” Cristina said. “Never had I imagined this would become a business, let alone go from zero to 60 so quickly – I am so fortunate, and so excited to give back with the In My Boots Initiative.” It is her hope that the equestrian community will join her.
To learn more and see her amazing custom designs, visit the Paisley and Hoss website at www.paisleyandhoss.com or visit their Facebook page @PaisleyandHoss. For more information on the In My Boots Initiative, please visit the official Facebook page, titled In My Boots Initiative.