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Rhinestone jeans, Montana West leather purses, glitzy saddle blankets and more  in El Cajon’s new store

Story and photos by Miriam Raftery

November 21, 2011 (El Cajon)-- “This is my passion,” says Hannah Blume, 16, co-owner of the new Cowgirl Bling store in Parkway Plaza. 

Her mom,  Cheryl Smith, helped Hannah open the shop to bring glitzy Western wear to East County—and to provide a better future for Hannah, a student at El Capitan High School in Lakeside.  

The mother-daughter duo started out selling items at street fairs.  “We ended up doing the Lakeside Rodeo and that catapulted us into the rodeo circuit,” Smith recalls.  While at pro bull riding events, they noticed that there was no rhinestone attire for the many female fans.  So the pair began making and licensing their creations.  “An opportunity came up to get a spot at Parkway Plaza, and the rest is history,” Smith smiles while ringing up sales at the bustling new business.

The shop is a natural fit for East County, coupling glitzy Western wear and accessories with exceptionally affordable prices. 

Montana West  leather purses with studs, rhinestones and seemingly every color in the rainbow from turquoise to pink to soft camel.  Purses average just $40 and include compartments for everything from cell phones to makeup.  Jeans with rhinestoned pockets are $56 or less. 

“We have beautiful saddle blankets for horses. These are parade blankets, appliquéd, rhinestoned and quilted, for $99,” Smith notes.  “We do customized works, too.  A lot of the rhinestone blouses we have made ourselves—it’s our design,” she says of the Cowgirl Bling label.“People know us from the rodeos. They know our we stand behind our products, and I think that truly helps.”  

Glitzy lanyards are popular sellers.  Others include glitzy belts, Western Express and Down and Dirty brand hats (some decked out with tulle scarves in shades such as lavender and pink), rhinestoned license plate frames, hair accessories, sun glasses handmade with crystals in every hue, ruffled shirts, tank tops, rhinestone cut-off shorts, jackets and flannel items.  Brides, bachelorettes , birthday celebrants and others can pick up sparkling tiaras for their special occasions.

There are also cowboy items for the whole family—including Western shirts for men and kids, belt buckles and more.  The store has a Western ambience complete with straw bales and barn doors leading to dressing room stalls.

Hannah and her family live in Blossom Valley—and say they’re country folks at heart. 

“We always had livestock of some fashion and we’re country music fans,” says Smith, who’s been partnering with her daughter for the past four years.  Emma Cajthaml, Hannah’s sister, also pitches in to work in the store as well as caring for the family’s animals at home when Hannah is at work.  Hannah’s father, Doug, also applied his skills to build out the store—and it was his idea to go with a “high-end barn look,” Cheryl noted.

When they opened the store, the mother-daughter duo expected their customers would be mostly high school and college kids.  But they’ve found the shop’s appeal spans all ages – with plenty of mothers and grandmothers shopping for jeans and cowgirl bling.  “I think that’s pretty cool,” says Cheryl.  “They’re people who want a Western flavor—but mostly they want something that sparkles.”

Hannah will celebrate her 17th birthday at the end of November.  She has no regrets about passing up some fun high school activities to work at her store or painstakingly apply rhinestones to dress up Western wear for East County customers.

“Giving up some things so that I can have a better future is worth it,” she insists, adding words of appreciation for her family’s support.  “None of this would be possible without the support of my Mom and Dad,” the enterprising teen concludes. “They noticed that I had had this passion for a while now and they put their lives on hold so I could have this opportunity…I thank all of the people who have supported us through this venture.”

Cowgirl Bling is building a website at www.cowgirlblingstore.net. Save money now to shop at Cowgirl Bling for the holidays!  Click and print the coupon below.


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