Episode 036 - Shaley Spills The Tea on WESA

Does Influencer Shaley Ham love neon? Hear her answers to “Love It or Leave It in 2023.” Join as Shaley takes you behind the scenes and reveals her secrets and tips about the Western and English Sales Association show and what it’s like being a Style Eyes.

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Podcast Transcript

Taylor McAdams: You're listening to the Kick Your Boots Up Podcast, where we swap stories of the West. Whether you're just waking up or getting in for the day, come on in and kick your boots up. Hello, everybody, and thanks for listening to the Kick Your Boots podcast. I'm your host, Taylor McAdams. Don't forget to like, subscribe, and share. Tell all your friends about this, especially after watching this week's episode, which is a bonus episode here at WESA. You're not gonna want to miss out on this next guest that we're about to introduce you. Because I'm telling you, she's the real deal. She's a cowgirl through and through and all the ways and has so much to say. But we're going to take the time to get to know her story. So everyone meet Shaylee Ham. 

Shaley Ham: Hello, thank you so much for having me. I can't believe I'm finally here. 

Taylor McAdams: I know. And honestly, it's I'm honored. Thank you for being here. It's so cool to have. I mean, just your whole resume your background, everything is so impressive to me. And I feel like I'm kind of low-key fangirling, which is awesome! We get to have some girl time while we're here at WESA. But I want to give you the proper introduction that you deserve. Because a lot of people that follow you know your story. But those out there that maybe aren't familiar or are new following and don't really know fully. I'm so impressed and inspired that you were a tax accountant.

Shaley Ham: Yes,I was.

Taylor McAdams: For seven years. 

Shaley Ham: Yes, I did taxes for seven years, which is so crazy to think about, because that's almost that's almost a decade of doing something completely not what I'm doing now. But that's kind of what I went to college for, you know, Instagram, and Instagram wasn't a thing when I was in college until about halfway through. And then, after I graduated, influencers weren't a thing until like years later. So I'm really dating myself when I make those comments, but it just it is what it is. So yeah, I was a tax accountant straight out of college for seven years.

Taylor McAdams: Well, that's incredible. And you're not dating yourself because girl math, you know, we all just add to take away some things. So in our eyes, you're still 17 

Shaley Ham: Yeah. I always feel like I'm 27 I'll never age past 27.

Taylor McAdams: No, you won't I completely agree. I just turned 27 yesterday, so I told her. 

Shaley Ham: Happy Birthday!

Taylor McAdams: Thank you. But 27 is the age you're like, yeah, no, not any higher. But kind of going back a little bit. I mean, I'm impressed with the number side of the influencing that you have. And it makes sense. Since you were a tax accountant. I'm sure people trusted you to do their taxes. What's that transition been like for you? Because at was it last year you fully quit your job and became an influ- two years ago, two years ago now. Yeah, two years ago, you fully became an influencer. And I feel like you're shining and rising. I think the best Have you ever heard of made.

Shaley Ham: I couldn't agree more. So the funny thing is, my entire seven-year career as an accountant, I was also doing West Desperado, it started out not really knowing what that was. But I actually started the same year I started as accounting. So I've been doing this just as long. And so it was a passion project, something to do for fun. Get me out of the office mindset and more into, like, back to the Western world. I grew up riding horses and around rodeo, and it was kind of like my little escape that I got to go back to that world while I was working in a high-rise and living in an apartment in the middle of Portland, Oregon. And so it really kind of was a natural falloff. Once I felt comfortable leaving accounting and just like diving headfirst into less Desperado content creation full-time because it was something I was still doing in the background the entire time, too.

Taylor McAdams: And I think that's definitely worth mentioning. Because there's a lot of girls out there and no offense to anyone out there if this was you. But a lot of girls wake up one day and think, Oh, I'm gonna be an influencer. And I make it look so easy. And you do I've got to commend you for making it look effortlessly. Like truly the fashion, everything is so effortless. But that goes to show you worked at it for seven years. And maybe each year you learned something new. You build on that. And you're what's considered an “OG influencer” now. Because even though you've risen to the top, and you're still one of the top, you're at least an OG that did it before you've been there. You know what works? You know what doesn't. And I have to say one more thing too, because you're really good about helping others like you definitely are like, I'm not just going to be at the top by myself. Like, Come on, girls, let's get it together. So you've introduced some some courses, there's a, what does it call it about NFR numbers.

Shaley Ham: So I did a NFR wrapped following Spotify syrup this year. But I for the last two years, I've gotten done just like a recap of, you know, looking a little bit more behind the fashion side of the National Finals Rodeo with everything I do. And I mean, I've gotten super transparent, diving into my numbers of income and my expenses because people think you don't have the expenses that come with it. And so, really talking about net income, talking about the business side, which you don't really see a whole lot unless people are specifically business influencers, which that's not really common in the Western side. There's so many different avenues you can do influencing, and so trying to bring that to light a little more and help with the education and like you mentioned, I did introduce a course this last fall, and it was super incredible. The group of girls I had were amazing, and it just was so rewarding to be able to share my knowledge and experience and like like years and years of experience and helping them and guide them. And I'm going to be relaunching that here in Next month, and so I'm building that like weightless. And it's crazy to see the backend numbers of people that are getting more interested in to that too.

Taylor McAdams: That is invaluable. That stuff that you're able to share with them. Like that's Spoken like a true queen. Way to go. Thank you hats off to you if I was wearing one because that I mean, that's how the industry is going to continue to grow. And I think something that's cool about you is you did have the Western background, you had the cowgirl spirit, your mom and sister both travel on the road. And so you kind of understand the cowgirl way of life a little bit better. But so I commend you for sharing that away. But tell us a little bit about your family, and what it's like being an influencer and getting to go I think your journey started as like you were getting to be the companion pass right along, but you looked cute doing that. So tell us about that. 

Shaley Ham: Exactly. Um, my mom has been professional barrel racing for my entire life. I mean, she we always joke that like all of us kids, I have two siblings that we were like born on the back of a horse. So I've been riding since I mean, I could ride on my own. And so I grew up like in the backseat of her truck haulin’ to rodeos and I have the other little rodeo kids that I'd get to hang out with that each one you know, everyone had their Oh, yeah, so yeah, that was like your friend group. And now my sister has followed in her steps, and they traveled together. So yeah, I'm kind of the companion pass person, and I get to, you know, show a little bit behind the scenes, I still will help with their horses. I've helped my mom at some pretty cool rodeos, like helping take care of her horses or cleaning. My sister helped her when she made the NFR, and like exercise or horses, 

Taylor McAdams: That was 2013?

Shaley Ham: 2016 

Taylor McAdams: 16 2016. It was a few years. 

Shaley Ham: And I've gone to go to Calgary Stampede a couple times. So just some of these really cool rodeos that I get to experience even though I'm not competing, but I get to see that more of like the behind-the-scenes contestant side of things, which I think is a different perspective that not a lot of people get to really see when they're introduced to rodeo. 

Taylor McAdams: Oh, I couldn't agree more. I mean, truly, just getting to watch from your perspective, you're able to take us to places that some girls sitting at home might not ever even get to go to dream rodeos. Iconic rodeos. Like you mentioned. So I've got to ask you then for just for funsies, What was your like most memorable experience getting to travel with your mom and sister because that's part of it. Family growing and getting to like, make memories together? 

Shaley Ham: Yeah,it's hard to narrow it down to one, especially with the two of them, obviously, with my mom, the NFR, that was just so amazing to get to see her race on that stage, essentially. And she she actually won round one. And so like, right out of the gate, it was like she was there for a reason her first time, like no real endorsees, like she's trained over on horses like so it's really been cool to see. Like how she's just like, so dedicated and so passionate about that. And then with my sister, she has an incredible horse that's actually out of my mom's NFR horse like they had been breeding their own. She made it to the Ellensburg finals. It was two years ago. So not this last summer. 

Taylor McAdams: Big deal. 

Shaley Ham: Like yeah, 

Taylor McAdams: That's huge. 

Shaley Ham: That was like with some of the most of the girls that qualified for the NFR in 2022. So it's like, and that was her rookie year. So it's really incredible to see like, you know, she's right behind there. She's dedicated to it, and she's a nurse full time. So that's just like, her thing that horses are her hobby. Same with like my mom, she has another job too. So it's been fun to go see like those truly like iconic moments and like their story of, like, barrel racing. 

Taylor McAdams: You No wonder you're a naturally born boss, babe, because you come from a line of babes that just Oh, wow, do it all? How do you balance like, You do so much? You know all the imaginary or literal hats that you wear? How do you balance it all? How do you I know you'll post like, Oh, I'm in my office getting caught up on things. Yeah, how do you do it all?

Shaley Ham: It's, I'm not gonna lie, it can be a struggle some days. I think going back to the fact that I was doing this while I was doing accounting, as well, I had to be very strategic with my time, not only answering emails, but like very tactical in the way I executed photoshoots or was able to go to WESA or you know, travel for work, all the different things. So I think starting that way really helped me get into that right mindset. And I was working in a professional job. So I was really structured that way. So I was able to take those skills and bring them to my self-employment career essentially. But as I've been growing, it gets harder, 

Taylor McAdams: I bet.

Shaley Ham: and becoming your own boss, you get a little bit lenient, where before I only had these certain hours where I could do things and now like I have all day and all week and then at the end of the week, I'm like Wow, I did not check off nearly enough things on my to-do list. I'm hoping to bring on some help this year, like part-time but throughout the year and at some of the bigger events like NFR, I've also had in-person and social media behind-the-scenes help. Which just saves a lot of energy and time for myself, especially at events when I need to be there in person. I can't be on my phone posting while I'm sitting here with you talking on the podcast, so please do it's okay if you don't mind go I don't

Taylor McAdams: No, I love that so much. And I have so many questions. I know we've got to keep moving for time. But I do have one more follow-up because I think this is like fun and shows your personality, like you're not afraid to be dressed up here today with full-on makeup. But then when you're off, you're off, you have make no makeup. So how do you like? How do you share with the world? The behind-the-scenes stuff that really isn't that beautiful? Like, how do you go about that have the confidence to do it, all of it, 

Shaley Ham: I'll admit it was there was a barrier for me to get to that point, I used to never want to show my face if I didn't have makeup on or if I did, I put like a big heavy filter on it. So you just start to really connect with your audience that, you know, they're starting to trust you more like the more vulnerable you are. And the more unfiltered real-life situations you can show them. Like they actually liked that because, more likely than not, they're going through the exact same thing or similar thing. And so now I mean, my also be my pajamas, my hair will just be like in a clip. And I'm like, Oh, I'm in the office today. And, like five years ago, I would have been like no way, but I show that. But now I don't know I've just been able to kind of embrace like my true authentic self. That sounds so cliche, but that's really what it's kind of about.

Taylor McAdams: No, it is and you do such a good job at the top of doing that because even at NFR I think the rock'n'roll didn't party I was like I don't really feel good my I don't I just all the things I women, we talked about gaining weight, all this stuff. And one of the influencers, I don't even remember now who it was, was like, that's what this is fashion. This site like right now fashion is all about, like being competent yourself and being who you are. Yeah, you're a perfect example of that. So few thank you for literally from the top being the best. But we do have to move on, I do want to be able to tell everyone about WESA a little bit and more. So from your perspective, our audience is pretty familiar with what we do here and what everything's happened, that it's not open to the public. So this is a great opportunity for you to share with the public. But tell us your perspective of WESA and what you get to go around doing and especially more so that we stylize all that stuff. 

Shaley Ham: Yeah, so I've been coming to Dallas market specifically, we submit I've come to a couple non-Western markets as well since 2018. And I've always been invited by Dallas Market Center, they have this program called the Dallas Style Eyes. And essentially what we do is go around, and we pick our favorite products of all of market like six to eight different products, just things that really stand out Western and nonwestern, because we know how like, well those worlds like are marrying each other, especially in today's fashion scene. So I just get to kind of like scope out trends, find cool products, find, you know, unique brands, like obviously, we're up here where a lot of the bigger brands have their showrooms. But if you go right downstairs, you might come across this, like individual maker that's doing something really awesome. And so it's fun to highlight. Those, like up-and-comers are just smaller, like mom-and-pop businesses.

Taylor McAdams: Yeah, and it's cool to see it from your perspective, too. Because I didn't even know that that was a thing until you started posting about it. And that's like, I think cool for the general consumer, all your followers to see like behind-the-scenes and I want to say, like, you don't get paid by the brands to put those forward. You know, like, I do want people to know that, like genuinely, this is your opinion. And there's several other girls that go around and do the same thing. And I know for you specifically last year, I think it was in January, we had our dresses our concho dresses made a debut and and you were like yes, I'm all about this and so I do appreciate like you giving the love to that and like really just sharing to the world because then now that the dresses are out and that's yeah, we so works like and then you see a month in advance. 

Shaley Ham: Yeah, I love that story that kind of goes with so a lot of what I'll be showing when I'm at these markets, they won't be coming out until fall or winter or when I'm here in the summer not until you know spring-summer of the next year. So it's kind of fun to see like the whole product shown to retailers and then watch it launched to the public.

Taylor McAdams: Oh, yeah. Especially for your Yeah, your perspective of getting to see all the brands you know,here are Justin I see Justin, and the day to day but for you Yeah, you've learned from top to bottom, you're like, Oh, I didn't know it took that long to get a hat or you know, all the fun stuff. Yeah. What do you think is your best piece of advice for someone that they're going to come to WESA because you know, there's a lot of people out there that own boutiques or stores that maybe don't think that they get to come to WESA, but they do, you can register. But what's your best piece of advice to like survive the long days, the discomfort on your fee, and all that stuff?

Shaley Ham: Definitely take breaks to eat, I feel like that's a big thing you can get so wrapped up in going from one showroom to the next that you're like I haven't sat down and ate and everywhere is serving booze from open to close to so you have to be really careful with that. So make sure you're drinking water and eating, but also just come with an open mind, essentially, especially if you're coming as a buyer. Don't try to stick to like a super strict schedule for yourself. Obviously, you might have appointments at certain showrooms. So make those but try to check out some of these brands that you aren't familiar with, you know, pop into showrooms or booths that you have never heard of before because I have the cutest conversation with this old man in August and he made like a hairdryer that looks like a pistol and I'm like that is the coolest thing is like oh yeah, I made one for Miranda Lambert. And she was like the first one and he's like doing all this cool stuff. Just unique product that you don't really I see. And so that's my biggest piece of advice was like, don't just stick to like these big brand names, but definitely check them out. But don't be afraid to explore around some of the smaller ones too.

Taylor McAdams: And I will say I did that and agree with that because even I actually think you did do it as a recap from either August or January. But you showed these quilts looking jackets, I don't even know how to explain them. And they were so cute. But if I would have seen them, I probably been like, okay, that's cute, and moved on. But you wearing it putting it on? Yeah, that just showed all the different things you can do with it. There was kids all this stuff. So I've got to ask before we move on to our next segment. How do you style outfits? How do you find pieces like when you're when you're here, you're planning for NFR you're planning for your year, spring, fall? All of it, you have photo shoots all this stuff? How do you plan that? How do you like mentally keep a note of what you're looking for.

Shaley Ham: I definitely keep notes in my phone, I try to jot down some of the color stories I'm seeing maybe prints patterns that I'm seeing on repetition for boots, I've already seen a couple of different designs that are similar across a couple different boot brands. So it's fun to see, like if there's similarities or if you see something totally different, but I definitely keep notes and keep track and take a lot of pictures, a lot of videos. So then when the season comes out, everything's launching, I can refer back to be like, okay, so what are we actually going to be seeing, you know, hit the shelves in the next month or two.

Taylor McAdams: That's true, because it all changes it really does. If something doesn't do well maybe it doesn't actually make it you know, just kind of like writing a story or something. So that's very cool. Well, Shaley thank you for sharing your time with us and your knowledge, your huge wealth of it all, but we've got to have some fun now I feel like you get to do business all day, you got to have some fun, we're gonna play a game and the game is called Love it or leave it and for those of you out there and how it's going to work is I'm going to say a few things and I'm going to ask her if she loves it or wants to leave it in 2023. So without further ado, we're gonna get started. Okay, so love it or leave it in 2023 Okay, and this is no this is just just general there's nothing personal or anything so everyone out there I'm not targeting you, don't worry. Okay, the first thing is fringe love it or leave it?

Shaley Ham: Love it. 

Taylor McAdams: Iconic Right? 

Shaley Ham: Yeah, classic timeless. 

Taylor McAdams: Yeah, it'll never go out of style. I agree. neon colors?

Shaley Ham: I'm a leave it okay, I'm gonna leave I've never I'm a more neutral girl. Myself.

Taylor McAdams: Yeah, definitely, the pastel here is probably the color pop that Yeah, I agree. White boots.

Shaley Ham: I'm gonna say love it. Okay, I think they can still tell their moment. So going. Yeah. 

Taylor McAdams: All right, we'll do that. Sequence.

Shaley Ham: Leave it. They took over like all year last year with Taylor Swift’s tour. And so I'm sorry in July. I'm not going to be wearing a sequined jumpsuit.

Taylor McAdams: I feel that maybe NFR. That might be the time. Definitely. What about suede, anything suede.

Shaley Ham: Love it. 

Taylor McAdams: Okay, another classic.

Taylor McAdams: It is timeless. I agree. Skinny jeans. This is kind of a personal hit at me. I'm curious to know I have to leave it. I'm gonna go shopping after this. So

Shaley Ham: Leave It. There are still some narrow straight leg jeans tucked into boots. Because I know a lot of people with skinny jeans to tuck into boots so they can show off their boots right? But you can still find some narrow straight legs that look good.

Taylor McAdams: But we want more like wide-leg boyfriends. Yeah, what is it grandpa?  Dad jeans, mom jeans, I think is the term that I've seen. I don’t know what the difference between those two are, but. 

Taylor McAdams: Okay, yeah, I mean, those two are probably the word honestly. I completely agree. What about coastal cowgirl? Like that whole vibe?

Shaley Ham: I did love that. But I think I loved it in 2023 so I'm gonna leave it in 2023.

Taylor McAdams: I agree with you there. Knee-high boots. Any brand they don’t have to be Western.

Shaley Ham: People are gonna come from me on this one. I'm gonna say leave it

Taylor McAdams: That's okay. No shade. No shade. I'm genuinely curious about this one too pink.

Shaley Ham: I’m not a pink girl. So I'm going to leave it fine with the moment Yeah, and Barbie. I think it was great seeing the Barbie pink last year with the Barbie movie. But I got worn out on a pretty bad I agree. 

Taylor McAdams: But we're not pink girls. So we're not pink. 

Shaley Ham: Maybe pink girls out there doing more of a pastel or like different plays on pink. Maybe not so in your face.

Taylor McAdams: Yes. Okay, the middle part. 

Shaley Ham: Middle part. Love it. 

Taylor McAdams: Love it. Okay, yeah, good. Okay, so what about the side part, then? 

Shaley Ham: So last year, I actually went from a side part that I've had like my whole life to a middle part 

Taylor McAdams: SAME!!

Shaley Ham: and I was talking with my girlfriends this morning. I was like looking back like I don't even know that girl anymore with the side part. So

Taylor McAdams: Who is that? Justin Bieber?

Shaley Ham: So I still love it? Well, that's good. 

Taylor McAdams: Yeah, no, I agree. I know someone just told me the other day that side parts making a comeback and I'm like, Well, good thing. I just trained my hair to be a middle part. 

Shaley Ham: Right? That was not a long enough trend.

Taylor McAdams: Okay, final one here to end it out. Bows.

Shaley Ham: Love it. Big time. Love it. They're gonna be big this year. All forms hairbows, wild rag bows, necktie bows.

Taylor McAdams: I agree like the Ralph Lauren type. 

Shaley Ham: Oh yeah, that's gonna be big. 

Taylor McAdams: Well, Shaley, this has been so much fun. 

Shaley Ham: Thank You!

Taylor McAdams: Thank you for being here. Good luck with everything you do at WESA, and if you have any questions, you guys can reach out to Shaley’s Instagram all our her platforms are at West Desperado. She's a Amazing she takes the time to answer most of the DMS. So if you have genuine questions about becoming an influencer or something I didn't ask, please reach out to her. She's the real deal. As always, like, subscribe. Tell your friends about this, and stay tuned for more. Season two is coming real soon. The new season is going to be epic. We have a lot in store for you. So hold your hat down tight and kick your boots up. Thank you guys so much. 

Shaley Ham: Thank you. 

Taylor McAdams: Thanks for joining us on kick your boots up. I'm your host Taylor McAdams and we can't wait to share the next story of the West. Until then, feel free to like subscribe and leave us a review. Follow us on social media at Justin Boots to keep up with our next episode, and we'll see you the next time.