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Making a business out of it
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Making a business out of it

Nebraska cowgirls, sisters run successful braiding business

Emma and Gracie Pearson

Emma, left, and Gracie Pearson of Broken Bow, Neb., own Mighty Maverick Merchandise, braiding and selling horse halters and other orders. Emma is a member of the Nebraska High School Rodeo Association. Gracie is a member of the Nebraska Junior High School Rodeo Association.

A pair of sisters in Broken Bow, Nebraska is running their own business.

Emma and Gracie Pearson, ages 16 and 13, are entrepreneurs and owners of Mighty Maverick Merchandise, a business that’s been in existence for more than a year.

The cowgirls started their business, which consists of braiding horse halters, headstalls, hobbles, reins, dog leashes, and other custom order items in January of last year.

It was a business built out of necessity.

Becky Pearson, the girls’ mother, told her girls she didn’t need to keep transferring money into their account, when their debit cards “didn’t work. I said, you need to figure out how to make this money stretch a little further, or make more money,” she said.

So after tossing some ideas around, the girls came up with the braiding project.

It’s a natural fit for them, as they both compete in rodeo, Emma in the Nebraska State High School Rodeo Association and Gracie in the Nebraska Junior High School Rodeo Association.

They know what their customers want, because they use those same items.

“We felt like we could relate to it, and understand the needs (of horse owners) and what we could do to make (the product) better,” Emma said.

The sisters do all the work themselves, from the ordering of materials, to the braiding, bookkeeping, marketing, and shipping.

“They’ve taken over our basement,” their dad Chris said.

And the girls have divvied up tasks, depending on their strengths. Emma is creative and good at marketing; Gracie is good with organization and numbers and keeps the spreadsheets. Gracie’s also the one who sends reminder bills to customers who are slow in paying.

“I respond to the tough customers,” she said. Emma added, “Gracie isn’t a softie.”

The business takes a lot of their time. Students at Broken Bow School, Emma competes in the barrel racing, pole bending and cutting, and Gracie in the barrels, poles, goat tying and cutting. Each evening, they spend a few hours in the rodeo practice pen, then do homework, then spend another two hours each night, five nights a week, braiding. Weekends, they’ll spend another 10 hours or so working. And in the summer, they ride in the mornings and braid all afternoon and part of the evening.

They’ve made enough money to pay rodeo entry fees, buy much of their own clothes, and put some in savings, too.

They marketed via social media and have had two influential people endorse their products: a horse trainer on a podcast, and a cowgirl clothing line on a social media post.

Their dad, Chris, is most impressed by the time management they’ve been able to learn.

“They still ride, do their homework, and braid,” he said. “They’re figuring out how to manage their time tremendously well. They have to.”

Mighty Maverick Merchandise has shipped products to thirty states, and the girls have learned from their endeavors.

“We’ve learned how to handle people better,” Emma said, “and how to market.”

It’s grown faster than they thought it would, and it’s a great learning experience, their parents believe. Both Chris and Becky each own their own businesses, and they like it that their daughters are entrepreneurs.

“I think it teaches them so much about life,” Becky said.

Emma is poised to compete at her second Nebraska High School Finals Rodeo, held in Hastings at the Adams County Fairgrounds, June 17-19. Tickets are $7 for everyone ages six and up and can be purchased at the gate. For more information, visit AdamsCountyFairgrounds.com or hsrodeo-nebraska.com, or call 402-462-3247.

Gracie planned to compete at the Nebraska Junior High School Finals Rodeo, held in Broken Bow May 20.

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