"Is it dumb to say that feathers saved my life?" Sitting across from me with an array of eye-catching feathers in her hair, Heather Cannon muses over the little crafts project that could. Feeling "really lost" after high school, she worked a series of odd jobs to pay the bills, but never felt like she'd found her niche. Until now. Her jewelry line and hair extensions keep her busier than she ever expected. Come autumn, she'll be expanding into apparel: look for Heather's Feathers clutches, bags and ties at www.heathersfeathershop.com.
Creative Loafing: Restaurant manager, Renaissance Festival worker, concert promoter, country club bartender — how did you end up adding "the girl with the feathers" to your resume?
Heather Cannon: I just fell in love with these feather earrings and hair clip that I got and I thought, "I can make these." I started buying feathers all the time so that I could make my own stuff, and then other people wanted them. I never wanted to do hair though, ever. People just really wanted me to put them in their hair. I enjoy it now that I know what I'm doing. The hair is more popular now because it's a trend, so I figure I'll strike while the iron's hot. I know it's not going to be popular forever, but I think my jewelry and my hair pieces are something I can continue to make.
Any surprises along the way?
I've had to learn a lot about birds! It's pretty weird. For example, right now there's a limited supply of feathers because they're the same feathers that are used for fly fishing, and there's a certain kind of bass fish that likes the same kind of feathers. I've read on blogs about angry men saying things like, "Might as well pull one out of the next woman's hair if you ever want to go fly fishing again!" Some girls have been turned away from fly fishing shops in some places. But people have been really supportive. A fly fisherman at the country club I bartend at actually gave me a bird wing with really pretty black and white feathers. Who knows how much that would've cost me?
What do you attribute the feather fever to?
Everyone's so alternative now. Two to three years ago, my best friend and I were the only girls with these long beautiful feather earrings, and recently she mentioned that she misses those days. People are just progressively more open: I've put feathers in the hair of executives at Wachovia. They usually hide it somewhere or they get something very neutral. I'm definitely not the only person doing this, but my phone doesn't stop ringing.