Many jobs are explored, with hopes of finding a true career. For some, it may take multiple degrees, ranging from law to fashion. For others, two decades of working to gain the experience and knowledge needed to take a leap of faith. That leap of faith is pursuing the dream of starting a business.
Dinah Brothers, from Paducah, Texas, decided to overlook the risk and follow her dream of starting a clothing business. She earned four different degrees from three universities, which demonstrates her love of learning. She said education was easy, simply because she loves school, tests and learning. But her love for fashion always seemed to outweigh all her other interests.
Today, Brothers maintains her agricultural interests by riding cutting horses, spending time on her family’s cattle ranch and raising a few head of cattle.
Despite Brothers’ love for agriculture, her first passion has always been fashion design. Therefore, Brothers pursued a related degree at Texas Tech University. In 1987, she completed her bachelor’s degree in clothing, textiles and merchandising.
From the time she began studying at the university level, Brothers went back and forth with the thought of starting her own business, but the thought of failure weighed heavily on her heart. After working as a registered nurse and attorney for 20 years, Brothers decided she was ready to jump in with both feet and follow her dream.
In September 2011, she launched her new clothing line, Hot Iron, at the Western and English Sales Association, the largest western and equine wholesale market, held twice a year in Denver, Colo. Hot Iron is unique because it is specifically geared towards livestock show participants, barrel racers and cutters.
She said starting something new comes with mixed emotions-fear, anxiety, excitement and fun. Brothers compared the thought of starting her own business to riding a cutting horse; it has its highs and lows and they can both happen within minutes of one another.
She explained that she would not have had the opportunity to pursue her dream if she would have listened to her negative thoughts of failure.
“Don’t listen to that voice of self-doubt that says you can’t succeed,” Brothers said. “Instead, listen to the voice that says you can.”
As with any business, Brothers said there are challenges, but exhibiting patience and effectively publicizing Hot Iron’s products was key for a successful beginning. She said she knew the most important element to getting her business off the ground would be branding. This is where she developed the brand name, Hot Iron. While branding calves on her family’s ranch, the name came to her in the heat of the moment. From that minute on, she knew it would be the name of her company.
Brothers said she knew exactly what she wanted the logo design to be and that she wanted it to look like a hot branding iron, but completing the logo design was a challenge. However, she did know who to contact to find help with logo development and branding, and that person was David Doerfert, Ph.D, a professor in the Department of Agricultural Education and Communications and former classmate of Brothers at The Ohio State University.
“I think highly of our program, our students and their abilities,” Doerfert said. “Listening to Dinah’s problem, I knew our students have the capacity to meet her brand creation and marketing needs.”
Doerfert drew up a short list of qualified students he knew would meet her needs. Hiring Corey Duysen, doctoral student in agricultural communications was the next step to making Hot Iron a reality.
“Corey is highly organized, hard working, and has strong creative skills,” Doerfert said. “Coupled with her agriculture background and you have someone who could meet Dinah’s needs.”
Duysen grew up involved in the agricultural industry showing livestock and raising cattle. This experience benefited her understanding of Hot Iron’s target audience. She also had the graphic design skill set necessary to develop Hot Iron’s logo, which she had acquired as an undergraduate at Oklahoma State University.
Duysen has designed all the logos and designs for Hot Iron’s livestock show apparel line.
“Had I majored in anything else besides agricultural communications,” Duysen said, “I don’t think I could have accomplished everything Dinah has asked me to do. It’s great to have a lot of resources from agricultural communications.”
Brothers said Duysen has been a great addition to Hot Iron.
“I have been very pleased and feel very blessed to have Corey as part of Hot Iron,” Brothers said.
Further, Brothers said she has been nothing but happy to work with Texas Tech agricultural communications students who are talented and knowledgeable in this field of work.
“I have been so pleased with the agricultural communications students at Texas Tech, that when Hot Iron expands, the Department of Agricultural Education and Communications will be the first place I will look to hire,” Brothers said.
Although it took Brothers 20 years and four degrees, it only took one courageous step to begin pursuing her dream.
“Don’t put off for 20 years something that you love and want to do,” Brothers said. “Don’t live the shoulda, coulda, woulda life.”