As happen stance would have it, we met on a picturesque November fall day and agreed to take advantage of the last of the warmth Mother Nature seemed to be gifting us and met under the red umbrella of a maple tree, clinging to the last of its autumn beauty. Traer arrived, vintage coffee thermos and campfire mugs in hand, extending a most warm welcome to join her on the wooden bench that became our home for the next hour.
Traer was born in Denver, Colorado and moved to the heartland of Nebraska at age three. She described growing up in a small-town atmosphere, graduating high school, and then entering the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as a pre med student. Not unlike many college students, Traer took a “slightly” different path than she first intended, graduating with an undeclared Biology degree and a degree in Fine Arts with a concentration in graphic design. Soon after graduation, Traer married her now husband, had her first son, and worked doing graphic design for The Buckle. Her husband then felt a calling to do his work as an electrical engineer on the east coast and the family of three moved to Carlisle, PA.
The move to Carlisle was certainly an adjustment, as the family had no personal connections to the area. Traer’s husband travelled a great deal and Traer settled in as a stay-at-home mom, eventually welcoming their second son. As an outlet for her creativity and as a way to meet others, Traer decided to start a wedding cake decorating business, which she focused on for the next two to three years. Traer laughs as she remarked that she had no formal training for this particular venture but found it rewarding and successful. In the meantime, Traer was also busy making their house a home and found herself tapping into her artistic side, which led to her next adventure, an Etsy home décor shop that she promoted, which in turn afforded her the opportunity to become an established vendor in Virginia and Maryland venues. With each new undertaking, Traer found a connection with like minded people and started to become more comfortable in her new life, complete with the birth of son number three.
It was then, seven years ago, that Traer entered into a partnership with two others, Deb and Kelly, and created a brick-and-mortar shop to call their own. “Feathers in the Nest” was opened at 61 West Chapel Avenue, Carlisle, PA, and continues to welcome customers today. Now under the management of Kelly and Traer, Feathers in the Nest can be described as a beautifully charming store full of home décor and antiques. They can be found on Facebook and at their website: www.feathersinthenest.net. It’s not unusual to walk the streets of Carlisle and hear Traer and Kelly referred to as “one of the nest girls” as they have close to eight thousand followers and have made a place for themselves within their community. I highly recommend a visit to their store and allow yourself to be taken back in time with their delightful finds from yesterday, their inspiring displays, and the opportunity to sign up for paint classes. Don’t be discouraged if you are not in the Carlisle area as they present plenty of opportunity to watch their live videos and shop from the comfort of your home.
Traer paused as I feverishly continued with my notes and asked if l would like my coffee warmed. As I looked into those soft blue eyes across from me and watched her warming smile never fade, I inwardly reflected how amazing people can be. What seemed like a lifetime was really only twelve minutes on a park bench with a stranger…but I saw the essence of the Bourbon Cowgirl in the woman in front of me. Entrepreneurial, artistic, nurturing, intelligent, and hard working to name a few. I was excited to continue with her story….
We all have things that motivate us and I find the answer to this question the heart and soul of a person. Traer’s response to what motivates her was a resounding, “Faith in God is my number one factor.” “Do everything to the glory of God and this is how I approach everything I do.” She also said her family and children are motivating factors in her life, and two of her boys are special needs, but her faith is what gets her through everything. “Sometimes our difficulties are our greatest blessings,” continued Traer. Beautifully put.
When interviewing, people are naturally shy to explore their strengths, but in interviewing someone of faith, like Traer, you often see more confidence in them, as they don’t see their strengths as something of their own accord, but gifts from God. Traer embraced her gifts and listed her strengths as the ability to listen with empathy and compassion, creativity, having a business mind, being a problem solver, and patience with an even keel. If she had to identify her super power, Traer credits God, and the super power is a posture of humility. Some people almost perceive humility to be a weakness, but as Traer explained, humility allows you to relate to people in a much deeper way by acknowledging your own vulnerabilities & weaknesses. She continued that you can be humble and still have boundaries. Very centered and pulling all her strength from God, she doesn’t see herself getting out of bed without her faith. We are told we are wonderfully made, and Traer’s truth can be found inked down her back declaring, Deuteronomy 33:27 The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.
I took a few sips of coffee and let her words sink in. It felt good to be in this moment. We chatted a few minutes as I flipped the pages of my notebook and we delved back into the conversation. When I dared to ask Traer what she is PASSIONATE about she declared, “ICE CREAM, DESSERTS, and FOOD!” As we laughed about her fervid and resonant answer, she did conclude, besides the sweets, she is truly passionate about travel, music, cooking, growing food, reading, farming, and if it is out there she kind of wants to know about it! Traer shared that when she meets people she draws from their passion and wants to know the details of what excites them.
When I questioned Traer what might be her biggest non-work achievement, she shared how two years ago she partnered with a realtor friend and raised money to erase the school lunch debt. Traer related how she had her heart and mind opened to the community and how everyone pulled together to make this a success. By using social media, they got their message out and then a local news outlet picked up their story. In the end they raised $20,000.00 as a community. A side hustle Traer shared and never connected as a huge achievement is volunteering with her middle son at the local Salvation Army soup kitchen every week. In turn, they started a non-profit called, ‘Pie for People.” By baking pies, featuring local organizations that need assistance, using her son’s talent for media, and often using Feathers in the Nest as an outlet, money is raised and donated to great causes within the Carlisle community.
I asked Traer to look introspectively and see what surprised her about herself. Without hesitation she laughed, “How much sugar I can eat!” She continued to share that what really surprised her was training for an upcoming 26.2-mile marathon, something she never attempted before. She laughed that she literally went from couch potato to marathon runner. She related a highly competitive side of her personality and how she sees other women with these stickers on their cars that highlight their marathon mileage achievement. I suggested finding a friend with a Cricut, but I digress. 😉 “How about something that might surprise other to learn about you?” I asked. She related that many people have been surprised she was raised as a farm girl, that she enjoys canning, she loves to buy locally grown products and tries to do all-natural, and that she has been known to boil chicken feet to make rich bone broth. (That’s a new one for the Bourbon Cowgirl!) Traer is also a huge Sci-Fi fan…and has been known to attend a convention or three. Beam her up Scottie! Another guilty pleasure is young adult books and anything with vampires! So many facets of this Bourbon Cowgirl!
A chill was starting to hang in the air and our coffee was long gone. It was time to start thinking about wrapping up our time together. When I asked Traer about a dream she had yet to achieve, she laughed and said she has done it all. From her high school ‘bucket list’ she has checked off quite the laundry list (all by age thirty): marriage, own your own business, have children, climb the pyramids of Egypt, travel four continents. (Climb the pyramids of Egypt, your killing me Traer lol.) Her new goal is coming up with a new bucket list and I have no doubt this giving, loving, caring, adventurous, and fearless woman will not disappoint. Traer’s final thought: “It’s not what I do but who I am in this life. I can do all things, but at the end of the day, if I am not said characteristics – GIVING, LOVING , CARING – than what is the point?”
As I sit here, long after our interview has ended, I have to smile when I can hear Traer say she thought she related to the Bourbon Cowgirl because of red cowboy boots she wore many moons ago, along with two horses from her past, ‘Honey’ a Shetland pony and ‘Misty’ a Welsh quarter horse. Oh, my dear, it is this and so much more!
Writer’s note: I am afforded an exciting opportunity to meet people and then share their stories. I am excited to take this journey with you and in a time such as this, I am ready to share beautiful souls, positive vibes, and something we as women can celebrate ---- that being one another. I want to thank Traer for her time, her thoughts, and for sharing her story.
May we be reminded of the essence of the Bourbon Cowgirl: I am heart. I am soul. I was born to love. I was born to thrive. I love my God. I nurture. I create. I cry. I hurt. I die. But through it all I continue to try. I live out loud. The world is my canvas. My dearest friends, my tribe. I am the Bourbon Cowgirl.
(*Photo credits: Tawyna Wagner Photography, https://www.twagnerphotography.com )