People intrigued by the history and romance of the Old West will want to check out a new online retailer based in the Napa Valley.
Calamity Jane’s Trading Company of the Napa Valley sells high-end goods inspired by the American West and California wine country.
Owned and operated by Cathryn Becker, Calamity Jane officially launched in November 2017.
The online retailer sells a wide variety of goods, including boots, knives, food products, jewelry and more. Shoppers can also request custom-made items.
Naming her company Calamity Jane’s, Becker said, was first suggested by her friend (and now husband) Steve. Calamity Jane is an historical figure with whom Becker said she identifies.
“... she was a larger-than-life character, never stayed put, held many jobs, was a little misunderstood and could out-shoot most men!” Becker said.
Products from the Calamity Jane’s Trading Company are sourced from multiple different artists, several of them local.
“Many of the artists I am lucky enough to represent, do what they do because they love it,” Becker said. “I am just giving them a place to be recognized.”
One of the current items featured on the Calamity Jane website is an American flag, custom-made by a local firefighter who used “retired” fire hose to create the flag. Becker describes the piece “as American as you can get.”
Creating a retail business seemed like a natural fit for Becker, whose family owned and operated a flower shop and high-end retail store, which is still in operation after 75 years, in Midland, Michigan.
Her love for the Western lifestyle also began in childhood. The family raised Morgan horses, which Becker showed competitively across the country until she was 18.
“From my first pony at 5 years old, I have been in love with the idea of being a cowgirl,” she said.
Becker became a Napa Valley resident by accident during a post-college road trip to California. Escaping the cold weather of Michigan, where she was born and raised, Becker headed West, making a stop in Calistoga to stay with a friend.
During that stay, Becker and her friend visited a restaurant where the owner happened to overhear that Becker needed a job. She was hired on the spot.
“It’s funny, being from the North I had heard so much about California and the Napa Valley, of course, and it was more beautiful than I could have imagined,” she said.
Over the years, Becker pursued several business opportunities: running a 400-head cattle operation, keeping bees for commercial almond pollination and honey production, working for a custom hat company and modeling for Western clothing and goods companies.
It was the modeling experience that inspired Becker to pursue yet another dream: creating her own Western goods business. Calamity Jane’s Trading Company was born.
Currently, the business is online only, although Becker hopes to have a brick-and-mortar store in Napa, if she can find the right investor. In the meantime, Becker said she and her husband are renovating a 1968 Airstream, which they “rescued out of a field in Kansas,” hoping to turn it into a mobile showroom for Calamity Jane.
The renovation, she said, is a “work in progress,” but they hope to have it on the road by next spring.
Becker said her company’s values are based on the “Code of the West.” The values associated with being a cowboy or cowgirl—including courage, discipline and drive—are what Becker has lived by most of her life.
“I have always been drawn to the Western life and what it stands for: pride, excellence, commitment and hard work,” Becker said.
For details, visit calamityjanesnapavalley.com.