New business expands on products and ideas

Micki Watson, owner of the Wooly Red Hen, is building on the Hillsboro business formely known as Mary?s Mats & More, which she acquired from Mary Lancaster.The Wooly Red Hen, located at 107 E. Grand in downtown Hillsboro, may be small, but has a wide variety of products and ideas.

Owner Micki Watson has operated home businesses through the years, but said it was time to strike out on her own.

Watson bought Mary?s Mats & More from owner Mary Lancaster, along with all of the store?s inventory.

?I do have several different things than what (Mary) had, and I probably do a little more seasonal items than she did,? Watson said.

Several items of Mary?s inventory remain a fixture in Watson?s store: the variety of teas, Leaning Tree greeting cards and, of course, the matting and framing.

?I like to think I can design,? she said. ?Everybody?s tastes are different, but I would love to come up with ideas to help other people, too.?

One recent example, she cited, involved a man who wanted to frame something special for a family member.

?This gentleman brought in a little record out of a jukebox to frame for his daughter,? Watson said. ?It wasn?t something I see every day, but he wanted it done a little different.

?So we cut out a round opening, stuck a piece in the center of it to suspend it, and he had the ticket from the jukebox.?

Watson said it?s all about keeping things fun.

She said another aspect of her shop is that when she frames something, she wants to keep the price fair.

?If someone says the framing is more than they wanted to spend, I ask them to tell me what they had in mind, and to let me work with them and see what we can do for a certain amount of money,? Watson said.

?I would want to be treated that way.?

Beyond keeping the framing business and some of the previous inventory, Watson is expanding into other areas.

She offers hand-poured candles that she makes herself.

?I will fill people?s old candle or ceramic containers, which is a great recycle, reusable philosophy,? Watson said.

For the ?melts,? she sells them in a couple of different forms for large or small melt pots.

?I do table runners using different little pieces of fabrics, scraps and remnants,? she said.

One project she hopes to try in 2014 is to go into the smaller communities.

Karen Ehrlich, owner of Down on the Corner in Marion, has been working with Watson even before she bought the Hillsboro business.

?I would like to set up shop over there one day a week so people in Peabody or other smaller communities don?t have to drive to Hillsboro,? Watson said.

It wouldn?t be a door-to-door business, but it would create more options.

Watson also said she likes to make handcrafted items such as soft sculpture primitive animals like horses and sheep. She also makes small stick horses that she placed in her Christmas tree or as part of a decorative mix.

?We do all different breeds (of horses) and every one of them is different,? she said. ?There are buckskins, palomino, appaloosa, paints and red roans, too.?

Watson also has pink carousel horses for girls.

Watson said she also is interested in consignment items. One ornamental piece she proudly displays is a rooster she bought at the Marion County 4-H auction last year.

?Tom Oborny made this, and I fell in love with it,? she said. ?It was made from farm equipment parts?some might be gears, a cultivator tooth, rake. He is just so creative.?

The rooster, Watson said, is not for sale, but she would like to put some of Oborny?s work on consignment.

Darlene Schroeder of Goessel is one of the women with consigned pieces.

?She is a talented lady, and does water colors, aprons and dolls,? Watson said.

Watson also enjoys coming up with new ways to look at something.

?I like using a lot of sticks and twine,? she said.

Many of her artistic creations can be seen around the store, including an old wooden ladder that?s been cut apart.

?I was going to hang (the ladder) down my stairway and put pictures in the rungs, but then I noticed a corner in the store was really empty,? Watson said.

Consequently, she used the ladder in her decorating scheme downtown.

?I have a lot of pieces at home I want to bring in,? she said. ?I have grain sifters and other things working their way into the shop.?

Watson?s store is open Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. The other two days she works part-time at Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Store in Wichita performing a variety of tasks.

Once the Wooly Red Hen is firmly anchored, though, Watson said she will give up the job in Wichita.

For more information, call Watson at 620-381-1566 or email her at redhencandles@yahoo.com.

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