By Kelly Rayl

The Yuma Pioneer


Oh give me a home where the buffalo roam and the deer and the antelope play, but….I need a dress for the wedding we are invited to next weekend, and maybe a new purse.

Yuma County, notable for many things, especially in the Ag industry, has become a hub for fashion.

It all started with fashion. A love for fashion and an appreciation for art. Krissy King, Tosha Wise, Whitney Benton, Victoria Riley, and Tyra Drager have built a friendship and working relationship based on the things they love.

Lu•Ella, a women’s boutique in Yuma, Colorado is owned by Krissy King. This “fashion connection” turned into an appreciation for art and each woman, in their own way creates a work of art.

King opened a women’s boutique with a couple racks of clothes and a large chunk of her personal savings to build a business that has crossed state lines and country borders all from a small town in eastern Colorado.

Whitney Benton, a native of Cope, Colorado, started talking about fashion on Instagram. She noticed that more and more people were starting to pay attention to the things she talked about or “blogged” on Instagram, so she decided to create a new Instagram account dedicated to fashion. Whitney is also a professional photographer.

Tyra Drager, is from Idalia, Colorado. She is professional photographer, mother, ranch hand and also embroiders and designs vinyl decals for a line of sports apparel. Tyra is also a nurse and cancer survivor. Tyra has just recently recovered from a stem cell treatment to once again eliminate lymphoma. Instagram has also provided Tyra with a medium to share her talent.

Tosha Wise, Victoria Riley and daughter Autumn, Krissy King, Whitney Benton and Tyra Drager (above, left to right) have worked together to help make Yuma County a hub of fashion. (Courtesy Photo)

Tosha Wise, graduated with Tyra Drager at the Idalia School. She is a mother, farm hand, and teacher with an art education. She can be found at the Liberty School teaching art part time. Her business began with colored pencils and charcoal. She sold some prints, but it wasn’t until she saw a 4-H leather exhibit at the Yuma County Fair that she discovered a unique way to feature her art, leather craft. Tosha designs and transfers scenes from the rural landscape onto a line of leather goods; cuffs, clutches and billfolds. She also has a catalog available for viewing on Instagram.

Victoria Riley, a stay-at-home mom, has turned into one of the premier models for Lu•Ella. She also loves fashion, loves to dress up even when there doesn’t seem to be a need to as a stay- at -home mother.

Krissy saw some incredible photos, a model walked right into her store, and she enjoyed a fashion blog on Instagram. Tosha showed up in her store one day and offered to let Krissy fill the space on her walls with her artwork. “She let me borrow,” said Krissy.

A retail clothing and accessories store had gained a writer/stylist, photographer, model, and handcrafted products all in Yuma County.

Not only did this group of women form a friendship through a common interest, but they also found a way to collaboratively support the things they love.

Krissy finds the clothes and accessories, some made by Tosha, Victoria models them, Whitney talks about them and styles the model, Tyra takes the photographs. All work together to create the best picture to use on the Lu•Ella Instagram catalog.

Tosha has her own catalog of leather goods available on Instagram. She does not take as many custom orders, but has sold pieces as far away as Denmark. As a mother, teacher and farm hand, her time has become pretty precious.

Instagram is a free, online video, photo-sharing application and social network platform. Like all social network platforms, Instagram can be accessed from anyone in all parts of the world. So how did a group of women in rural America find a place on Instagram?

“People can get to know you, find out more about you and your business. It’s amazing the number of things we have sold through a hashtag. People can do a random search and end up in our store through a hashtag,” said Krissy.

Instagram has certainly made their world a lot bigger. Whitney and Tyra have worked for brands like Wrangler, Cinch and Kimes Ranch. No brag intended, “but Kimes Ranch is a pretty big deal!” said Tyra.

Yuma County, home to many things in agriculture, can now be included in the fashion industry.

On Thursday, November 7, Lu•Ella will feature the leather craft of Tosha Wise. They also have planned a shopping event before Christmas with Tumbleweed Brewery. Tumbleweed Brewery is located just down the street from Lu•Ella.

To learn more about these female entrepreneurs, you can find them on Instagram, just search for their name.