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Hyo Silver, a unique Bandera shopping experience

By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer

Hyo Silver, custom silversmiths, sits tucked away in a magnificent two-story log building at 1107 12th Street. Unless you regularly shop at the Helping Hand Thrift Store, or visit the Nagel Community Clinic, you may not even be aware of what is surely one of Bandera's most unique shopping experiences.
Established in 1999 by former Miss Rodeo Australia, Jo Symons, Hyo Silver is known world wide for their custom buckle designs. What many Bandera Countians may not know, is that the retail shop just inside the front door offers a wide selection of buckles, crosses, jewelry and accessories featuring their trademark tri-colored gold and sterling silver designs that pop against a deep antique background, highlighted with vibrant accents of colored crystals and gemstones.
You don't have to be a rodeo champion to wear a piece from Hyo Silver.
Walking into the retail shop is like stepping back in time. The shop has been recently remodeled with historic furnishings made at the turn of the century by the JD Warren Company in Chicago. The oak cabinetry, refinished by the craftsmen at Country Accents Antiques in Pipe Creek, form a warm backdrop for Hyo Silver's gorgeous pieces.
Eva Lee, owner of Country Accents, said the Warren cabinetry was a perfect fit for Hyo Silver. "These cabinets were built when craftsmanship meant something, which is also key to Hyo Silver's philosophy. They're solid oak with pine beadboard backing, and the bases and tops are interchangeable, making them very versatile for either the home or a retail setting."
Symons, her daughter Josie Berg, a team of designers headed by Karen Haile, and sales and shipping staff work hard to produce a product that will delight the eye and please the customer. The actual manufacturing of the pieces is done off-site.
"In addition to our custom trophy buckles, our jewelry line includes cross pendants, rings, necklaces and more," said Berg. "We will work with the customer to create exactly what they want, but we also have the ready-to-buy line."
The company's website offers the customer a look at some of the business's signature pieces and allows convenient ordering on-line. "If they want a custom piece, they can just call, toll free at 877-796-7961, and start working with one of our four designers," said Berg.
In addition to creating custom trophy buckles for many events here in Texas, such as the Texas High School Rodeo Association, the National Bucking Bull Association of Texas, and Forth Worth Championship Bull Riding, Hyo Silver has done contracts for events across the US and the world. They've designed the buckles for Prescott Frontier Days in Arizona, and the California High School Rodeo Association. The Italian Rodeo Association and the Australian Team Roping Association have also presented Hyo Silver buckles to their winners. And of course, they have created beautiful buckles for the Cowboy Capital Rodeo Association right here in Bandera.
The company proudly produced buckles for George W. Bush's inauguration, as well as for numerous notables such as Tanya Tucker and George Strait.
Jo Symons started her business here in an out-of-town location. She heard that George Strait was in town looking for her shop, but couldn't find her. "So I moved to a location about mid-way down 12th Street, here in town, to be easier to find. Then we built our current location, but George still hasn't been in!" she said.
She started with the buckles and the business evolved from there. That successful evolution took place because Symons was willing to be flexible in her business plan.
She may have inherited her business sense; most certainly she learned how necessary hard work is in business from her parents. "My dad was a calf roper and in sales for Warner Lambert," said Symons. "He had good business sense and I could always bounce things off my dad."
Her mother and her husband were also business owners, operating a roller skating rink.
Symons has spent time working for others, where she also picked up some business tips. "If you work for someone else, don't put too much importance on yourself, keep their goals in mind."
She also advises employees who leave to "leave well. Don't burn any bridges."
While she currently has 10 employees in the Bandera shop and one who handles shows on the road for the company, she has had to deal realistically with downturns in the economy. "You have to be willing to get small, to survive the hard times," she advised.
Symons obviously believes in setting goals for her business. She definitely has the big picture clearly in mind. However, perhaps her best bit of business advice is "Don't look at the mountain. You'll get discouraged about how big the job is. Look at the nearest hill and do what you have to to get there. Then pick another spot up ahead and move on."
Hyo Silver's retail store is open Monday-Friday from 9 am to 5 pm and will be open on Saturdays from 10 am to 4 pm from Thanksgiving through Christmas for your holiday shopping.