judy wagner cowgirl icon cowgirl magazine
Photo by Mariah Allen Photography.……

Judy Wagner’s passion and love for the Western lifestyle have led her to her purpose of telling the stories of brands and products. A lifelong cowgirl, she was hired as the Teton County Extension Agent in Choteau, Montana, upon her graduation from Montana State University.  Two years later, she and her husband Alvin moved to Helena, where they had two children, Ross, and Tiffany, who she considers to be her greatest accomplishment.

Her children were her sole career until they entered school.  It was then that she decided to follow her passion, where she co-founded Gator Rope Company.  She managed and marketed the company for over 10 years, and the experiences she gained, as well as the people she partnered and worked with, opened doors for her as she entered a new chapter in her career as Montana Silversmiths’ Director of Marketing in October of 2000.

In her illustrious career with Montana Silversmiths, Judy has grown to appreciate the value and emotional ties associated with their products.  “Nothing compares to handing a champion a buckle created by Montana Silversmiths.  In 2019, as the Chief Marketing Officer of Montana Silversmiths, I had the extreme privilege to present my nephew, Ty Erickson, his PRCA World Champion Steer Wrestling Gold Buckle.”

For Montana Silversmiths, the NFR is a great platform to support retailers and their sponsorship with the PRCA.  It is a melting pot for the manufacturers, retailers, competitors, associations, fans, and friends, and plays an important part in knowledge of the industry, understanding of the marketplace, and hearing and observing firsthand from consumers what they value.  

During the 10 days of competition, the South Point serves as Montana Silversmiths’ headquarters, where they present the nightly NFR Go-Round Buckles, as well as supporting and attending many other events, including Miss Rodeo America and the PRCA convention.  This year, the World’s Largest Belt Buckle is on display.  “Every buckle truly does have a story, and the NFR is a major event for Montana Silversmiths, where we share our stories and our brand with the western lifestyle community.”

“It’s a wonderful company with talented and passionate people.  It means the world to be a part of the Montana Silversmiths family,” Judy expresses. “I am humbled and very proud of what we do and where we do it.  Next year, Montana Silversmiths will be commemorating our 50th anniversary.  This major milestone will be celebrated with our employees, as well as with our retail and sponsor partners, and consumers.  Each is an integral part of our success.”

Women are becoming such a driving force in a previously male-dominated industry.  Judy attributes this to one thing: hard work.  She explains, “Not because the door was opened for them, but because of the efforts taken and achievements made by women in the industry today.  Hard work speaks for itself.  The efforts by women in the industry today are being better recognized because many are taking leadership positions, making a difference, and doing a great job of telling their stories through digital media.” 

COWGIRL’s 30 Under 30 program, of which Montana Silversmiths plays a key role, takes pride in cultivating future female industry leaders.  “This powerful community is forming a nucleus for collaborations, mentorships, and relationships that will open opportunities to be treasured for a lifetime,” Judy praises.  “My advice is to take advantage of this empowering platform, share your talents and keep breaking trails.  Everything you give comes back tenfold.  If you follow your passion, you will find your purpose.  Then, be unapologetically you.  This is where their authenticity and passion will excel.  Nobody can do you, like you.”

(Originally posted on November 16, 2022)