The doors opened for the first time Saturday at Dancing Cactus Designs, Oklahoma City’s newest women’s western fashion boutique.
“I come from a very small town, Thermopolis, Wyoming,” storeowner Harley Rhodes said. “To open up in a metropolitan area like Oklahoma City is beyond exhilarating,"
Harley’s store features a grab bag of items, but it was his cowhide handbags that started it all.
“I grew up with an agriculture background. Cowhide handbags, I’ve always loved retail," Rhodes said. "I built one, and it turned into a Facebook phenomenon.”
Harley started making them in college at Oklahoma State and used Facebook Lives to drive his sales, enough to open his first brick and mortar store off Route 66.
But the road Harley took to get there was a long and winding one.
While going through the struggles of starting his own business in college, Harley was dealt a blow, stage 2 osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer.
“I didn’t have any family around, so I relied a lot on my friends. A lot of phone calls to my parents back home.”
Harley fought the cancer for a year and a half, his new business going hand in hand with his recovery.
“I was able to use my passion of building handbags to get me through that actually. With the support system I had, and keeping my mind on building bags constantly, I knew I had something to strive for.”
He was right.
He’ll be marrying his fiancé Adam later this year and his business is thriving, more than doubling their social media-following and increasing sales during the pandemic.
As for cancer? He’s going on three years of remission.
“I wouldn’t change it for the world, because it is what we built, and it is how we got to where we are today.”