I am a born and raised Texas country girl. I know, this fashion loving, gluten free, yogi doesn’t seem like someone who grew up picking rocks, showing sheep, and chasing coyotes away from the family flock. But underneath this designer exterior is grit built on 86 acres outside of Clifton, TX.
I shared my plot of land with hundreds of sheep, 50 cats, stray dogs, a handful of rabbits and pigs, a couple of (pre-yoga) goats, a llama, and a real live ass that wandered our way — the animal kind. I spent my days romping with the animals, swimming in the giant corn silos with my brother, and stomping through the creek with bacon on a string catching crawdads.
My dad was the brains and the muscle behind the operation. His whole life is a story of wide open skies and God’s
creatures. He can build a damn good fence and engineer miles of winding shoots and corral systems to get your animals where you need them to go. He also has a knack for breeding impressive Suffolk Sheep, so much so that he had his own brand back in the day — Duke Suffolks.
Like a lot of teenagers, I became bored with everything that surrounded me, which in my case was the country. I was obsessed with all things city. My small town was miles away from the places and the things I wanted to be, but I continually dreamed of trading my life in the country for the concrete jungle.
As so it went. I left for college, moved to the city, got married and pursued my dream of art and fashion design, and my dad downsized the farm and became a cowboy. It seemed as if our paths might be drifting apart. But that’s the thing about pathways. Sometimes just when it seems like they are diverging, they cross.
My dad has never been one to care much for fashion, but once he started spending his free time as a cowboy, his closet was filled with vests, hats, bolos, scarves, belts, jeans, overalls, and boots. So many boots. Then one Christmas, his list included Wild Rags. What the heck was a Wild Rag!? As always, Google came to my rescue, making sure they were under the tree for him come Christmas morning. He got a lot of use out of them, as I’ve come to find out that most cowboys and cowgirls do. If you who are like me and have no idea what they are, I will save you a Google search. A Wild Rag is a scarf that cowboys use for everything from warmth to first aid and calming horses. They are usually silk and square.
The first time my dad saw the over-sized scarves I designed, his wheels began to spin. He started asking around on trail rides and the rodeo circuit to find out what other people thought about putting my art on a Wild Rag. After getting plenty of positive feedback, we revealed AlanaKayART Wild Rags at the Cheyenne Rodeo. You can see the cowboys and cowgirls below wearing my Wild Rags. My favorite model, of course, is my daddy, Tom Duke, the inspiration behind this project.
Life is funny. I have been running from the country since I graduated high school. But when a place shapes you for nearly 20 years, you really never lose it. The country made me tough, taught me how to keep things alive, ingrained the value of hard work and determination into my soul, and taught me how to dream.
Every Wild Rag you wear is a piece of one of my dreams. I hope that they inspire you and make you feel as bold as the colors they hold.