Lantana Made: The Oklahoma Heart and Soul of Emily Myers

Many a creative idea has spun up while doing ranch work, and for Emily Myers, her devotion to fashion was tended by time on the Oklahoma plains. With some textiles, leather and knowhow, Emily dreamed up purses that appeal to fashionistas and fellow ranch wives alike. Her boutique, Lantana Made, serves customers much like Emily herself women wanting functional yet stylish Western bags.

A Lantana Made western bag
Emily started out making purses for herself using Navajo horse blankets, which evolved into her business. Photo courtesy Lantana Made

Growing Up Ranchy

Myers grew up on a modest ranch in central Oklahoma, where her parents raised Quarter Horses. Emily, her brother, and her sister all broke colts to ride each year and did 4-H 2-year-old projects with them.

“I had a great childhood showing Quarter Horses and did a lot of ranch horse classes,” Emily says. “When I went to college, I took my horses with me.”

While attending Oklahoma State University in 2011, Emily met her now-husband Evan Myers, and they married in 2014. The couple has a few broodmares and raises Quarter Horses. Emily helps Evan: she starts the colts, then he takes them to do ranch work, and she’ll show the ones suitable for ranch riding competition.

Creating Lantana Made

Emily has always been interested in fashion and styled her mom, sister and friends whenever asked.

“Fashion was something I always enjoyed, and I majored in design in college,” she says. “When Evan and I got married, he was working for the Stuart Ranch in Caddo, Oklahoma. So we moved there, and there wasn’t anything in my degree field to work in the area.”

Emily got a job at a bank, and while it was good work, it wasn’t interesting to her.

“I had to let my creative side out somehow,” she says. “I started making purses for myself using Navajo horse blankets. People loved them and asked me if I would make one for them.”

Surprised at the interest in her hobby, Emily saved up for a leather-sewing machine to make her purses at home. She also went to work for Miranda Lambert’s Oklahoma boutique, The Pink Pistol, as the company’s merchandiser. She held that position until Evan got a job opportunity in Osage County, Oklahoma, in the fall of 2015.

“This is where we wanted to end up, so I quit [Pink Pistol] and moved here,” Emily says. “This is even further from anything [fashion-related].”

Figuring the time was right, Emily decided not to return to banking, and launched her online boutique Lantana Made in 2015. Evan makes leather leggings on the side of his ranch work, so the couple tosses ideas back and forth about their leatherworking.

“I take his advice, but he doesn’t actually help me make the purses,” Emily says with a smile. “He is so artistic—he can freehand things so well. I’m a little bit more technical than that, so when I need a pattern free- handed, he’s the go-to guy for me.”

A Lantana Made western bag
Emily enjoys making bags that her customers will hang on to for a long time, and maybe even pass along to their kids. Photo courtesy Lantana Made

Evan says his job at Lantana Made is to support Emily in her work.

“I try to be there for her and let her know that it’s a dream, and it’s something you’ve got to work for and keep working for,” he says. “But she’s the creative mindset behind everything. This has been her baby since day one.”

Evan says Emily has a shared passion for agriculture, and her artistic ability has always been part of who she is.

“She’s extremely hardworking, ambitious and she’s always been super creative,” he says. “She loves being outside, loves horses and loves getting her hands dirty. She’s not scared to jump into any situation.”

Going for Quality

The first few years, Emily went to a lot of trade shows with her purses, building a solid and loyal customer base. In 2015, she says there weren’t a lot of bag makers, and the ones she saw lacked a few features she was determined to include.

“I noticed that if people were making bags, they didn’t really focus on the inside of them,” Emily says. “I spent a lot of time figuring out how to make sure that my bags had interiors, and looked like a nice, finished product. That’s really what I’m known for most.”

Lantana Made purses are a high-end but functional product. From the top to the bottom, pockets, zippers and other finishing touches abound.

“I get so much feedback saying, ‘We know that you’re a mom because these bags are so functional—every aspect of them makes sense,’ and I love to hear that,” Emily says. “It’s been a really fun journey, and I’ve learned so much. I’ve met so many people.”

A Lantana Made bag stitched with the words "Ranch Wife"
Emily strives to make functional bags—as a mom, she knows what works and what doesn’t. Photo courtesy Lantana Made

Living in Osage County, Emily says her environment influences the purses she makes.

“I think this lifestyle inspires creativity from all the beauty that you’re surrounded with,” she shares. “I think cultivating crafts and skills, it just really makes for good artists, people who are able to shut out the world and hone in on a skill.”

Fitting with Family

Once Emily had her first child five years ago, she shifted to an online-only business model. Her business has continued to thrive, even without in-person shopping. She mainly sells through silent auctions on her company Facebook page. Purses that don’t sell through the auctions get listed on the Lantana Made website.

The Myers moved to Fairfax, Oklahoma, in June 2019. Evan now manages the Little Chief division of Sooner Cattle Company, where they reside. The couple has 6-year-old Evie and nearly 3-year-old Tell. The children spend all day every day on the ranch, as there are no childcare options nearby.

“They’re either with me, or they’re hanging out with their dad doing ranch work,” Emily says. “My daughter loves to drag calves with her dad. She does it all. We’re raising them exactly how we envisioned wanting to raise our kids.”

Emily Myers with her family
Emily with husband Evan, daughter Evie (6) and son Tell (3). Photo courtesy Lantana Made

With the expansion of their family, Emily has shifted the designs of her purses.

“When I first started, I did a lot more items that you might carry to a gala,” she says. “I’m still doing that, but I’ve added more day-to-day products that make sense as a mom—not just 3-foot-long fringe. I’ve got more of a variety now.”

A rustic-styled backpack
Getting away from fancier purses for galas, Lantana Made bags are built for quality from the inside out. Photo courtesy Lantana Made

The volume of work has reduced in this season, Emily says. She’s not taking custom orders because of the unpredictable work hours with young children.

“I hate to take on a custom order and not be able to give a timeframe,” she explains.

Now Emily makes a few of the same style with different material options, which gives nearly custom options, but streamlines the process on the maker end.

“I just build what I want, and then put it out there [in the silent auction],” she says.

A western bag on a mannequin
Bags are made in several styles with varying material options. Photo courtesy Lantana Made

Next Chapter for Emily and Lantana Made

Looking ahead, Emily has no plans of stopping her Lantana Made business. She looks forward to returning to trade shows once her children are school-age and hopes to add back trunk shows.

“I really liked doing trunk shows because it was so much fun to be able to meet my customers,” she says. “Now, whenever I’m out and about, my customers recognize me, but I don’t know them because I haven’t had that interaction. I would really like to do that in the next three years.”

Emily enjoys meeting other makers in the industry and gets great satisfaction from meeting women who love her products.

“We were just at the [Working Ranch Cowboys Association] World Champion Ranch Rodeo in Amarillo [Texas],” Emily says. “My husband was on a team there. Walking around and seeing people carrying my purses is so fun. And then getting the feedback, ‘I love this bag. I feel special carrying it,’ is really awesome.”

Evan says the excellent workmanship of Lantana Made purses sets them apart.

“More than anything, Emily wants to know that she’s putting a product out there that someone is going to enjoy, hold on to, and cherish for a long time—maybe even give to their kids,” Evan says. “Her heart and soul goes into every single piece. She doesn’t cut any corners on anything. She cuts out every single piece by hand, and there’s a lot of it. She does everything top to bottom, inside and out. Every single piece that she produces is her heart and soul.”

Visit the Lantana Made website here.

This article about Emily Myers and her Lantana Made brand appeared in the Spring 2023 issue of Western Life Today magazine. Click here to subscribe!

Abigail Boatwright

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