Who knew there was a market for bejeweled rubber flip flops priced in the hundreds of dollars?  The founders of the free-spirited apparel company Gypsy Soule, that’s who. Twelve years later, the all-female company retains its fearless fashion sense, and is one of the West’s sassiest success stories. 

Since 2003, the upstart women’s fashion brand Gypsy Soule has stretched the definition of cowgirl fashion like a rhinestone-studded rubber band.  And that’s exactly how co-founders Amy Moorhouse and Lorinda Graham-Van Newkirk like it.

“Our parents taught both of us to be different, that it’s okay to stand out. We’ve never been afraid to express ourselves.” says Amy. A fearless attitude not only guides Gypsy Soule’s eclectic designs but also its approach to business.  When they started, the two women both held down multiple jobs in the fashion world.  Lorinda had two daughters and was already establishing VanGlo, pioneer of the bejeweled flip-flop that is still Gypsy Soule’s signature hi-lo fashion statement. (Prices for the highly sought-after flats and wedges range from about $200 to as much as $1,750 for custom onyx numbers with Swarovski crystals).

The pair would work on Gypsy Soule at night, designing and hand-fabricating products and planning marketing strategy. Relying upon career savvy and hard work, they’ve grown the all-female company to multi-million annual sales.  Throughout, they’ve managed to do it with “soule.” “We both could have been in mainstream fashion and made good money, but we wanted to be in the western world, which we love,” says Amy,  “This is our shtick.”

Both women were ranch-raised and born to ride.  Lorinda came from inland California, surrounded by flashy barrel racers and dazzling rodeo queens.  Amy lived on the historic Pitchfork Ranch in West Texas, a favorite location for photographers seeking cowboy authenticity. These experiences form the bedrock of their fashion sense, but they draw inspiration from everywhere—L.A., New York, Nashville, concert performers and movie stars, Internet blogs, Pinterest.  Lately, they’ve been collaborating with world champion barrel racer Fallon Taylor, a rodeo icon with fashion-model looks who’s known for her flamboyant arena style. “Fallon always says she likes to fly her freak flag.  She is so popular, and a trendsetter.  If people see her wear it, they want to wear it too,” says Amy.  “She’s a perfect fit for us.”

Both women have an uncanny knack for relating to their customers, whom they describe as women who are “sassy” and “who’ve found their voice.”  Their trademark blog “GypsySisters,” is the forum where they share their thoughts on everything from rocking glitter eye shadow to raising kids.  It has the feel of women cutting loose over cocktails.

Typical is this, from Lorinda:  “I know I’m aging and I’m fine with being 40.  But, I’ll fight aging as gracefully as I can…so, I am coming clean on all that I do.” And she does, discussing everything from Botox injections to plastic surgery. Fearless? Damn right. That’s the heart of Gypsy Soule.