This week's partner spotlight is someone I greatly admire: Christy Collins.
I can't remember exactly when this memory occured, but I know it was probably at least 15 years ago. We had a Shorthorn bull that we raised here at V8 Ranch named "Bonfire." Well, okay, that reminds me. It would have been like in 1997ish because we named him that while I was a student at A&M because he was out of my old show heifer. People who attended the Illinois State Fair around that time might also remember him from the notorious "Illinois State Fair Bull Fight" in which Bonfire tore down the showring, and blew up the lassie queen's skirt as she hopped over the fence. HA! Truthfully, the story on that was that he had never been shown before - he was never intended to be shown. But Don Cagwin, one of the owners, kept insisting we start showing him. So he was halterbroke and stuff later in life, and showed, and won Louisville. Good foresight by Mr. Cagwin.
Anyway, that story does have a relevant point to this topic. My dad knew Bonfire was the best bull we had raised at that time, and so Don Cagwin purchased an interest in the bull as well as several other promiment breeders. Now keep in mind this was BEFORE I started doing advertising. I will never forget my - almost stalker-ish - excitement when my dad told me that we were possibly going to hire CHRISTY COLLINS to do the pictures of Bonfire. THIS was when I knew we were talking BIG TIME here! Christy Collins to do our picture!!!
Well, actually, that deal never panned out on working with Christy - not her fault, we just went another direction. But, we felt it was a huge honor that Christy would even consider taking on our bull. I had seen her photos and ad design throughout all of the magazines and I was interested in advertising - though I never really knew to what extent at that time - and I was so excited at the possibility to get to work with her.
Later that year, my dad saw Christy at Denver, and mentioned to her that I was interested in web design. She offered that if I wanted to come job shadow her to learn about ad design, I was more than welcome. Um, hi, I should have DEFINITELY done that. But, I didn't. (Note to young professionals, if Christy, or me, or anyone else you hold in high regard ever makes you that offer, TAKE IT!)
Well though the years, I have continued my great admiration for Christy's work. Not only is she, in my opinion, the greatest club calf bull photographer ever, but she is also one of the best ad designers, catalog designers, sale managers, everything. No matter what she does, she does it with professionalism and CLASS.
I absolutely love it when I get to do an ad using photos taken by Christy. Probably my all time favorite would be the Heat Wave photo. Which I just realized you can order a really cool poster about Heat Wave. While we worked with Lautner Farms, I probably used that image in over 250 ads. I still smile every time I see that Heat Wave photo. Invincible's photo is probably another one of my all time favorites. Paddy O'Malley, Irish Whiskey, Habanero, all greats.
Despite all of her professional success in advertising, probably the thing that I admire most about Christy, is that she lives the cattle business every day. In a recent email conversation we had, we both were talking about how we would actually prefer to be working in a cow pasture than being in front of a computer on most days. She "gets" it. I "get" it. I think that's why we are both so successful in working with ranchers, because we know that business. Heck I am saving every penny we make from RHD right now to use to buy hay to get through winter. I'm sure Christy has done the same through the years. But, we both knew we wanted a viable business to help us remain involved in the cattle industry, and her camera and my computer helped us get there. She blazed the trail that I, along with many other young women, have been able to follow.
I don't mean for this to seem bragging, but lots of young ladies tell me that they look up to me, and aspire to have their own "Ranch House Designs" one day. That makes me so happy to be a positive role model for young ladies in the cattle business. Whenever I go to do guest lectures at schools in animal science classes, all the students think that I was the first person to start this niche of professional advertising in the livestock - and maybe more specifically - the club calf business.
But they are wrong. Christy Collins started this career path for many young ladies to follow, and today, she is still at the top. There's a quote on the front page of her new web site that says "Beginning is easy. Continuing hard.". I love it. I'd have to say, Christy, you have succeeded!