Feather, Fin and Fur Taxidermy Studio
And Red Barn Deer Processing
By Courtney Bond, Freelance Writer

Interviewer: Thank you for doing this interview with us Beth. 

B.J.: Oh, you're welcome thank you for considering us.

Interviewer: I think in the world taxidermy most people don't know a lot about it, but at the end of the day it's a business. I guess my first question to you would be what makes your company different?

B.J.: Great question, because as a taxidermist most taxidermy shops do the same work, the same type of animals. I believe what sets us apart, makes us different, are several things.
The first thing sticks out in my mind is the fact that I have several women working for my company. In a man dominated industry I'm finding it increasingly awesome to know that women can do as good a job or better, that's not to take away from the men, however, I've met a lot of women in this industry that are tenacious and detail oriented and resourceful and committed to their craft. I love to see that, and I love to give women the opportunity to be a part of my company. Again that's not to take away from the guys that work for me because they are all good, hard working, relentless, tireless, and dependable, so together we make a perfect team.
The second thing that makes us different is our vision. We can have people bring something in and they want their fish mounted or their bird mounted, but they don't have an idea of how they want it. We've got fresh ideas in the show room that are mounted creatively. I've often said I love to mount something in a way that it tells a story. I mean if you think about it, everybody's got a deer head hanging on the wall or a bird flying, but if you can do it in a way that it tells a story, well now that's different and that makes it a step above the average taxidermy shop.
I think what also makes my company different are my employees and my clients. I mean honestly they are my biggest assets. My employees as I've already said… relentless, dependable, will do anything at any time for any one. By the way, this goes beyond the business, I've got the most generous employees that have, in the past, brought willingly of their time and their money to provide food for families especially during deer season when sometimes we will have extra deer meat because either people don't pick up or someone donates some meat. I've even had an employee bring a chest freezer for a family and we filled it full of food and delivered it to the family in need. So again, unbelievable employees. Most of them have been with me 15-20 years... crazy loyalty, and I'm proud to say my friends. 
My clients are an asset, obviously word-of-mouth is huge in this business and when you treat people right and you do the right thing, then they're going to return. You know it's always right to do right. End of discussion. My biggest desire for each client that we get is:
A) To create an experience they'll never forget with the animal that they brought to us and
B) They think of us the next time they have something else to be mounted and or, they tell someone about us. I want them to love the experience so much that we are who they think of for all of their taxidermy and deer processing needs.
We work about 100 hours a week during deer season, seven days a week, so we put in long hours and on occasion we get tired and worn out and weary and in those moments sometimes our attitude shows, [Snickering] but we sure try to do our best every day, every hour. I mean sometimes we may come out on the short end of the stick trying to do or make the customer happy but that's exactly what we're going to do because that's important. That is the legacy that I want this business to leave. That no one was ever mistreated, or at least we did everything we could do to make them happy, is our goal. That's not to say there aren't haters out there, there's always going to be that, but we do the best we can do. It is always the right thing to do the right thing. I tell my people, that when people come into the shop we really are selling ourselves. If they don't feel like they can trust us, or if they feel like we're being deceptive or we don't appreciate their business then they will go elsewhere. So when they come in it is in our best interest to be honest and up front and as friendly as possible. We have a sign at the front of the building that says “We know you have a choice and we appreciate your business.” We mean that.

Interviewer: What do you think about your competition?

B.J.: Well I can say there are some incredible taxidermist in Georgia, and I'm privileged to call most of them my friends and one or two as my mentors.
But the truth is my competition is the last mount we sent out. It is the work that we do on a daily basis trying to get better. No kidding, if we're not getting better on each mount that we do, if we're not improving and using all the new techniques that are out there, if we're not making our habitats better on a regular basis then we're killing our own business; No one else is beating us, we're beating ourselves.  I don't roll that way, I want the next piece to be better than the last piece period. At the end of the day, I want my deer heads this year to look better than the ones last year and even if it's just a minute detail, then that's the right thing for our company. That's the competition that I feel on a regular basis.

Interviewer: Wow, you seem to be really convicted about all of this, and truly believe what you're saying. What gives you your tenacity? 

B.J.: Yes I guess there is some tenacity involved in it, well....all cards on the table ... a lot of dogged tenacity....but the bottom line is I absolutely love what I do for a living. I mean I can't sleep fast enough to get to work the next day, that's how much I love what I do. I've now been in business about 28 years, and I love it more today than I did yesterday. I have imprinted on my wall at work large words that read “be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire", and I mean that, don't stop until you find it.

I think my tenacity comes from.... part of it is being a woman. There are so many things that women are told no about... you can't do this... we can't hire you.... or this is the good old boys club, and I'm in a field that in general used to feel that way. I just wasn't going to have “none of it”. I was not going to be told I couldn't do it if that’s what I wanted to do, I was not going to be denied. I smile about it right now, I mean the fortitude it took to get where I am just makes me laugh because if I had known better I probably would never have attempted it. But I'm thankful I didn't know better and I was just going to do what I needed to do. It still cracks me up. [Snickering]I built my building from the ground up in 1998 with about half the amount of money I should've had [snickering]. In fact when I was done one of the contractors asked me what I spent on the building and when I told him he shook his head and said that should've never happened. But it did because I just didn't know better [snickering]. I'm kind of like the kid in that song that has a fishing line attached to a broomstick in a puddle of water in the street… Just don't tell that kid he can't catch a big fish out of that puddle. [Snickering]
But my tenacity goes back to my childhood, my mother probably started it all [snickering]  and then I've got some incredible sisters that are, as well, unbelievable when it comes to determination and getting things done... so it kind of runs in my family. I'm very fortunate. 
But to all the kids out there and especially the girls who have a dream of doing something that is dominated by men, go for it, that's all I can say, go for it, don't ever be afraid of the word “No”.  Do what you have to do to make it happen.
And again that is not a dig against guys, because I would never have the business I have today had I not had plenty of guys in my life that have made a huge difference in how I operate. They are a huge part of my business and I appreciate them.

Interviewer: There have been times I've driven by your business and I've seen your car parked out front at a time a day you should have not been at work so I guess my question is where do you get your work ethic?

B.J.: Gosh again that goes back to my childhood and my mom and dad constantly reinforcing that we should be productive, that we should get things done in a timely manner on a regular basis. As a kid, mom and dad had a garden outback and they would grow vegetables, mom would put a towel in a red wagon and fill it up with vegetables then she would send me and my sister Pattye out to sell them door-to-door in the neighborhood. Of  course in that day, we got a nickel for things may be a dime for a big cucumber but we did it frequently and I remember that to this day, just business, taking in money. Then when I was in elementary school I saved enough money from mowing yards to buy a riding lawnmower, so then I started my own lawn mowing business in the neighborhood,  I just loved working. As far back as I can remember I've just thoroughly enjoyed working outside, especially outside, but regardless of what it was, making money, doing what I enjoyed doing. Then in high school for one of our projects as a senior class we were to sell cookbooks and I got the award for selling the most cook books door-to-door. So selling is always been in my blood. By the way, it hasn't always been rosy, but weirdly enough the worst decisions I've ever made have taught me the most and I remember those as if they happened yesterday. So those unfortunate things did more for me than the successes that I have had.
I learned from my dad, honesty, dependability, just put your head down and work hard. Finish the job. Don't worry about what others are saying, do what you have to do and it'll come back around. When I think of my dad I think of him working sunup to sundown at his job. I remember admiring the fact that he did it day in and day out and was just so dependable in his pursuit to provide for our family. It must run in the family because my brother has the same entrepreneurial spirit.

Interviewer: So what do you do in your free time? I'm sure you find time to do things outside of work. What do you enjoy?

B.J.: I like outdoorsy things, so I enjoy kayaking, hiking, really just being physical and being outdoors.  A friend and I bought a couple of kayaks a few years ago, so when you can mix kayaking with fishing, then, you've had a good day, being out on the lake, fishing in a kayak, listening to your music, oh by the way, I really love music of all kinds. I also enjoy yardwork, a good campfire and things like that. In fact, about eight of us women from the company went on a kayak trip for three days down the Suwanee River a year or so ago. We had a blast. We camped out and one of  my customers who has experience going down the Suwanee River went with us and he cooked all our meals for us and just took care of us ... we had a blast. Shout out to Merl Inabnit by the way.

I have also recently found a passion for concrete. I love making things with concrete and just being creative.
I also recently made a mistake in the shop not too long ago with some paints but it made this really cool impression, so now I have a little side hustle with paints [snickering].
My house is kind a like this science lab where I try out all my new stuff. Some of it's pretty cool, some of it makes me laugh though. 


Interviewer: Well thank you for giving us this interview I think it's been enlightening concerning what makes you tick, and what makes your business run. Do you have any words, anything that you would like kids to know about starting a business?

B.J.: My advice to anyone and especially younger kids that might want to start their own business or are just navigating their teenage years, would be I guess to... do you... be who you are... be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire. If you don't know what that is yet, keep searching.
I have 11 nieces and nephews and three great nieces, and I'll tell you that for all of them I hope they find their passion, and I'm their biggest cheerleader. There are two or three of them that don't march to the same beat of the drum as everyone else and those are the ones I think will do the greatest things if they can apply discipline, consistency, respecting others, learn from mistakes. Also the old saying "show me your friends and I'll show you your future", you have to protect your friend space. Only reserve it for those who truly have your interest at heart. You wouldn't believe how much that could change the course of your life good or bad. That would be my best advice.


Interviewer: Again, thank you for your time Beth we've enjoyed it.

B.J.: Well thank you, now let's go kayaking!