By Maria Surma Manka
Most clothing lines don’t have groupies, but most clothing lines don’t put the commitment and quality into every piece like Cowgirl Tuff.
“We name all of our jeans and some of our customers collect every one,” said Lisa Bollin, founder, CEO and director of design at the Cokato-based clothing company.
A long-time barrel racer who studied fashion in college, Bollin launched Cowgirl Tuff in 1999 after she grew frustrated with the options for women’s Western-style clothing. Stylish yet durable, Cowgirl Tuff began with Bollin designing and printing tops at her home and selling them at barrel racing events throughout the country. Five years later, her tops were in 18 stores.
Still, Bollin knew there was room to grow. “The Western jeans out there just didn’t have a good fit,” she said. “I asked my buyers about doing jeans and they discouraged me. So I did it anyway. Now it’s 85 percent of our business.”
Today, Cowgirl Tuff is sold online and in 1,500 stores in the United States as well as in Australia, Canada, Brazil, France and the United Kingdom. The market is primarily female barrel racers, rodeo riders, horseback riders and Western enthusiasts. We talked with Bollin to hear what keeps Cowgirl Tuff kicking.
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