From the May 2018 Fashion Special Edition
By Cassidy Johnston, Photos by Lauren Maeve Photography
The Western fashion industry is full of beautiful fabrics, vibrant colors, and nods to tradition, but few garments lend themselves to being wearable to both the working pens and a night on the town than wild rags.
Sharon Echenique-Buys from Bakersfield, California is the owner of Buck Wild Custom Wild Rags, where she specializes in making gorgeous and functional wild rags. Whether you’re horseback or on a date night, her shop is full of stunning florals, bold patterns, and luscious fabrics to add flair and style to absolutely any outfit.
Sharon, who credits her two daughters with helping her find her love of western culture, has been making wild rags for over 25 years. She started out making them as gifts for friends and family, and one of her very first designs, the “Annie Oakley,” is still one her best-selling and a personal favorite.
“I wanted to keep the cowboy tradition of wild rags at its roots,” she said. “I wanted my rags to be a throwback to its earliest beginnings. Not too loud, just simple.”
What started as a hobby is now a full-time affair for Sharon, and as her business has grown and changed, so have her sales and marketing tactics. In the beginning, before social media and selling online grew to be the norm, Sharon took her designs on the road and sold them at “every single dog and pony show that did not charge a vending fee within a hundred-mile radius” of her house.
Facebook was just taking off then, she says, and it was much harder for a business to find its target crowd. “Not like today, where a few hashtags gets you all the exposure you need,” so physical presence in the area was vital. And although much of her business is now done online, she still enjoys meeting and visiting with customers the old-fashioned way.
The National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas is her favorite trade show.
“I’ve been attending as a vendor for five years and never have I left disappointed,” she said. “I’m always flattered at how many customers just stop by to introduce themselves and stay and chat.”
Just because Sharon has reached some of her goals doesn’t mean she’s stopped dreaming, however. Someday she hopes to live in Texas “with some acreage and a view!” and she says she’d love to dress Melania Trump.
“That woman makes a paper sack look like a million bucks! All kidding aside, she has a sense of style I really appreciate and with her solid color outfits, I think a wild rag would give her just enough sass to get me noticed,” she said.
As her business continues to grow, she stays grounded with the words from Psalm 37:4 that hang in her office: Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.
“Not a day has gone by,” she said, “that I don’t read it and smile.”