by Jody Kerzman | Submitted Photos
Jodi (Weishaar) Hendrickson has always loved fashion. It’s been a part of every career she’s ever had, and every place she’s ever lived. Jodi grew up on a ranch near Reva, South Dakota. After college at South Dakota State University, she moved to Texas for work.
“I worked at Western Horseman magazine for about 10 years. While I was there, I worked on the Western Lifestyle Retail publication. When I left there, I started my own online magazine called Finge magazine. It was the first magazine for the cowgirl.”
Then, Jodi got sick. After seeing doctor after doctor, she was finally diagnosed with lyme disease in 2008. The treatment was almost worse than the disease.
“The treatments made me sick and then there’s the die off and the side effects. I had a really tough time for about six years,” Jodi recalls. “There were times that just taking care of my kids was more than I could do. But I always wanted my career back, even when I felt the worst. I kept getting a little better, and then a little better than that. This year is the first year I felt consistently better.”
So, she decided to restart her career, but this time with a different focus.
“I wanted to find a balance,” she explains. “I didn’t want to go back to an office. I wanted the flexibility that if I didn’t feel well, I could lie down. I had a bunch of ideas and finally settled on scarves. Scarves are manageable in my small house—the inventory doesn’t take up a lot of room and they are easy to ship. It was a manageable way to get back into the working world.”
Jodi launched Fringe Scarves in June.
“I live in Texas, and a good friend who is also a savvy business person asked me if I was crazy, launching scarves in the middle of a Texas summer! I told her it was time. I was ready.”
Turns out, it was a great time to launch her company. Jodi was able to work out the kinks over the summer and says she was much better prepared for the busy fall and winter season. Fringe Scarves come in two sizes: the shorty is a 26 inch square and the long tall is a 35 inch square. Jodi designs each custom scarf herself.
“I like the retro-vintage feel. My western cowgirl background is an influence as well, but I’m hoping to appeal more to the hipster market. I describe my scarves as pop culture with a western twist,” Jodi says. “I wanted something whimsical, fun, and bright. Fringe Scarves can replace your necklace. I love layers and telling a story when you put your clothes together. For me, Fringe Scarves is a way to do that.”
Fringe Scarves has also been a way for Jodi to ease back into the working world, on her terms.
“I had so much time to think when I wasn’t feeling well. I knew I wanted a balance and that I didn’t want to manage other people. I was looking for something I could do alone. I can do this all from my 10×10 foot office at home.”
But she’s not alone. Her daughters, Scout (11) and Ollie (13), have been her biggest cheerleaders and office assistants.
“They help me fill orders and do inventory,” says Jodi. “When they were little, they saw me working all the time. Then I got sick, and they saw me not working. Now they tell me how proud they are of me for doing this. That’s pretty special.”
As for her health, Jodi says she feels better than she has in the last eight years, but says managing lyme disease will be a lifelong task.
“I have chronic lyme disease so I will always be on medications. There is no cure for me yet, but I can manage it.”
While she manages her disease and her new business, she hopes she can also help other women to follow their dreams.
“My tagline for Fringe Scarves is ‘stick your neck out and tie one on.’ I want women to not be afraid to try new things, whether that’s in their careers, at home, or just with their fashion. Women should have fun and step out of the box. It’s important to remember you don’t have to look like everyone else and it doesn’t matter what shape or size you are. Just have fun with your style.”
In other words, don’t be afraid to stick your neck out.
Click here to learn more about Fringe Scarves.