Blaine County Beacon: Deriving Pleasure from Developing Designs


April 20, 2022

A senior at Chinook High School who will graduate this May, Halle Mitchell operates a beadwork business: Boss Mare Beadwork. She started the business in 2020, sold her first item in 2021, and currently has a long list of orders that she is gradually fulfilling. The venture began as part of her FFA Supervised Agricultural Experience, commonly known as an SAE, in Agriculture Sales Entrepreneurship.

Mitchell's interest in beading originated after she admired various hat bands and earrings. But her enthusiasm really developed after she watched a video on Instagram and realized, "I can do that!" Mitchell immediately ordered a beading loom from Amazon.

Now, Mitchell creates belts, hat bands, bracelets, key chains, earrings, halter nose bands, lanyards, and necklaces in both two-strand and choker styles. While her most recent commission is for a dog collar, Mitchell has also detailed a purse for Bobbi Klingaman, who operates Ranchlife Designs, a leatherwork business.

Crediting her older friends for mentoring her into the craft, Mitchell claims to derive immense pleasure from developing designs and beading them. Most of her work is either commissioned or destined for gift-giving.

When Mitchell finds a design she likes, she takes a picture of it and moves it into the Instagram app on her phone. Here, she deploys the dash mark, moving it around to take measurements, find center, and determine sizes. "You always want one more warp string on your loom than you have beads in your design so as to maintain center," she explained.

If Mitchell doesn't have a photo of the design, she will use a liquid ink pen and draw right on the loom threads. Her preferred brand of bead weaving thread is a thermally bonded variety called Wildfire by Beadalon in size 0, which designates a thread of .006 inches in diameter. Once she has the thread strung and stretched on the loom, Mitchell sets out the cannisters of colored seed beads that she will be using to create the accessory that will emerge. Then, using her needle, she swoops into each cannister to scoop the required number of beads. For designs she has previously created, Mitchell needs no pattern or list of instructions, but for new or more complicated designs, she maintains a folder of formulas that she will consult. Some of her favorite patterns include vectors, diamonds, and chevrons.

When she's not busy beading, Mitchell will often be found ranching, riding, and roping. She currently owns ten head of Black Angus cattle, calling them her "starter herd." She will increase those numbers as her bank account allows.

After she graduates on May 22, 2022, Mitchell will enroll in an online degree program with Miles Community College. She plans to earn an Associate of Science Degree in Business-an educational background that will help her grow her cattle herd as well as increase her financial literacy for career and community readiness.

When asked what advice she wished to share with others who find independent business ownership intriguing, Mitchell responded with a cautionary note: "Make sure whatever you choose as your target, that it's something you really want to do. It has to remain fun; otherwise, it will become a hassle."

As she reflected on her business and its challenges, Mitchell said she had to remind herself to take breaks so as to avoid getting overwhelmed. Since she's an active individual, the sedentary aspect of beading took some getting used to. "At the beginning, I was thinking 'this is new,' so I didn't expect the business to blow-up like it did."

Because she received a considerable number of orders "right out of the gate," Mitchell had to force herself to sit and work. "I remember thinking, 'this is going to turn into something!' I also had to ask people to remain patient. If the beaded item wasn't ordered as a gift, I couldn't be afraid to say, 'It might be awhile.'"

Although Mitchell finds satisfaction in being busy, she commented that completing a project and then seeing it out in public gives her a feeling of pride. "There's such a reward in seeing a horse at a branding wearing one of my halter nose bands or seeing one of my hat bands on someone's hat in public. One of my designs was even featured in senior portraits!"

Jinks models his halter band created by Halle Mitchell.

With her design ability and eye for color, Mitchell will likely have to grow accustomed to a showcase of her talent.


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