For Francesca Fox of The Secret Magpie, there is no such thing as too much bling.
All photos from The Secret Magpie Facebook page
If you’re familiar with tack trader groups on Facebook, you’ve probably seen her work—meticulously blinged-out boots, spurs, stirrups, helmets, show jackets—basically blinged-out everything, even items you wouldn’t expect to be blingable, like horse boots.
Francesca has been in the blinging business since 2012 when she started in her home of Essex, England. She was big into showjumping as a junior rider, and bigger into bling. So when she couldn’t find the exact items she wanted, she just made them herself.
“I found, though, that the market was pretty oversaturated in the U.K. There are a lot of people who are blinging things…but when my husband and I moved to the U.S., I saw how popular bling was with Western riders, and thought why not? Let’s bring it to English riders.”
You might call it a shining opportunity.
Her business grew as fellow competitors in the UK started asking her to bling things for them. Eventually, she moved the business to Facebook, quit her job and seized her chance to become a full-time bling artist.
Now, the business is a Fox family affair. Francesca spends most of the day making and taking orders from “mini-magpies” throughout the U.S., U.K. and Australia via Facebook and phone. After her husband gets home from the track where he works as a jockey, he helps with the accounts as well as bringing packages to the post office. And all of that on top of caring for their newborn Pippa.
“My phone is going off all the time,” she says. “But I always think of what kind of customer service I like to have. I like to keep communication flowing so no one’s worried.”
Many of The Secret Magpie’s business is in custom orders—fly bonnets in a customer’s favorite colors are an especially popular item—and Francesca blings everything by hand using high-quality Swarovski crystals. For smaller items, she attaches the crystals by hand, while for larger areas she uses a sheet of crystals for uniformity.
Surprisingly, the delicate detailing is pretty hard-wearing.
“We use different adhesives depending on what it’s going to be attached to,” says Francesca. “On the Professional’s Choice boots for example, the crystal sheets usually stay on until the boots themselves are ready to give up.”
And what about those traditionalists who turn their noses up at bling?
“Last year they allowed bling on dressage coats at shows,” Francesca said. “With time, they’ll come around.”
For more information about The Secret Magpie, check out their Facebook page. Custom orders start at $27.50 if you send in your stirrups to be blinged up.