WON Landing Page OCT 2022

Wanna Win WON? Reader Alyssa wins ‘Sweethearts of the Forest’ jewelry

Sorry, readers, but we had a little Internet problem going on and couldn’t select the necklace till today. Sept. 30. Alyssa wins, and wrote, “I just love all the items you’re making and I love the fact that you’re able to enjoy this new adventure together with your daughter and hunting partner!   I just love the Antler pendant since I’m a big bowhunting fan.  I’d wear it everywhere!  It would show off well against my brown tweed turtleneck sweater, cognac suede jacket and dark denims.  Thank you and good luck with your business!” 

Congrats, Alyssa and we’d like to see a photo of you wearing this lovely pendant. ~BB


We love to tell stories about women who are successful. And this woman, Ellen Benitz, has already finished one successful career with the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), as a Regional Director and before that, Regional Coordinator of Women in the Outdoors program. Now retired from traveling thousands of miles every year to do the good work for the NWTF, Ellen has turned her talents toward making outdoor-inspired jewelry in her St. Joseph, Mo., home. We thought you’d like to learn more about her business, Sweethearts of the Forest.

The WON: Your business … what inspired you to start it? Do you run it with your daughter? Tell us about it!

Ellen: I don’t like waste and I also like jewelry that reflects my passion, hunting! I have always thought that turkey feathers and pheasant feathers are really pretty and it seemed such a shame to throw them out when you harvest a bird, so I did some experimenting and come up with a way to make some jewelry with it.

Same with the whitetail antlers – it seemed such a waste to let them just sit around and not use them for something. Plus, I have a friend who makes antler-handled knives; he uses the rosette, or base of the antler, and had all these main beams and tines he wasn’t using.  We help each other, I give him what I don’t use and he gives me what he doesn’t use.

Jessie and Ellen Benitz

Jessie, my daughter, and I took a polished stone wire wrapping class at a Women in the Outdoors event and decided to take it one step further and wrap the antler pieces.  Jessie is pretty talented at it, but we both have a different style that compliments each other.  Jessie is very creative and does most of the beading for some of guitar pic bracelets.  She also is in a band and this is something she wanted to add to our list of merchandise. I do the survival bracelets. I also do all the antler cutting, drilling and polishing.  Jessie is my hunting buddy, too, so this is just another extension of that which we enjoy doing together.


The WON: What do you offer? And customize?

Ellen: We offer feather earrings, feather and antler earrings, feather bracelets, guitar pic bracelets, survival bracelets with antler toggles, antler pendants, feather hair extensions or clips and antler pendant necklaces. We can customize any piece; if you want us to use feathers from your own bird, or an antler piece from your deer, we can do that as well. I also make survival hatbands for cowboy hats, with a great antler toggle. These pretty much have to be custom fit. Jessie also is very good at making dream catchers using an antler, and this can be custom done as well.

Turkey feather earrings

The WON: How is the response so far?

Ellen: The response has been steady on our web-site on Etsy, and also on our Facebook page, but we are now in the process of trying to build our inventory for a show.  We really want to do a show, like a sports show, gun show, festival or fair.  We want to talk to folks about our product and visit with other like-minded people.

Clever hat band … with a survival twist!

The WON: Where do you advertise and do you have an affiliated website?

Ellen: Right now, advertising is a bare minimum because we haven’t really gotten our inventory where we want it to be, but we are almost there!  Some of our product is posted at Etsy andof course, our Sweethearts of the Forest Facebook page.

Multi-feather pheasant earrings — ooh, la la!

The WON: How does this connect to your recent retirement from the National Wild Turkey Federation?

Ellen: Well, retirement has definitely given me more time to work on things!

The WON: What’s new in the lineup?

Multi-feather pheasant bracelet

Ellen: We are currently working on pheasant feather bracelets, and adding some colored crystals to the antler pendant wire wraps. They look phenomenal!

The WON: Where do you see this business in five years?

Ellen: I hope to keep expanding our lineup of jewelry using things from nature and the wild.

We really like the added touch of the antler clasp.


The WON:  What’s your favorite thing about the business?

Ellen: It gives me a creative outlet! It also gives the two of us, Jessie and me, time to spend together and when we are together the creative juices really get to flowing!

Antler pendant with charms — charming

The WON:
Anything else?

Ellen gave me this lovely survival bracelet as a thank you for some copy editing I did for her recently, as a friend. I really like it! Not scratchy and makes quite a nice impactful lifestyle statement.

Ellen: We hope to get a website up and running in the next year, so watch for us to update that on our Facebook page.  I think we should do a Wanna Win WON!  Let’s do a choice of wire wrapped antler pendant, survival bracelet, or feather earrings, (pheasant or turkey).

Visit Sweethearts of the Forest at Etsy.com.

And, yes! Let’s do a little giveaway — your choice of wire-wrapped antler pendant, survival bracelet or feather earrings. Tell us which one you’d like and a special occasion where you would wear it! In fact, tell us what you’d wear it with — a little black dress, your favorite jeans and cowboy boots? Deadline is next Friday, Sept. 28. Winner will be chosen at random.



  • About Barbara Baird

    Publisher/Editor Barbara Baird is a freelance writer in hunting, shooting and outdoor markets. Her bylines are found at several top hunting and shooting publications. She also is a travel writer, and you can follow her at https://www.ozarkian.com.


The Conversation

  • Alyssa Haukom says: October 1, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    WOOHOO! Awesome! Thank you thank you! I’m so lucky to have been drawn to win a pendant….but I also plan on ordering some extra items. I must have a camo survival bracelet… and I just have to have that multi-feather pheasant bracelet! Thanks Swetthearts of the Forest!
    Be sure you visit their FB page, like them and visit their cool shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/sweetheartsofthe4est

  • Stephanie Wottrich says: September 27, 2012 at 8:17 am

    I would choose the antler pendant, mostly because I would destroy the earrings, and bracelets drive me nuts… they’re all super cute! And little black dress? Nope, not in my closet! Jeans, boots, skirts, etc… I am a Texas girl… don’t do a lot of “dressin up”

    • Ellen Benitz says: September 27, 2012 at 8:53 am

      Thanks, and yes, indeed, that pendant or any of our pendants look great with jeans and a camo shirt as well!
      Good Luck!

  • HeATThER says: September 26, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    I love all the wonderful jewelry you make so its hard for me to make a choice. I am going to go practical and choose the survival bracelet. I would go well with my BDUs (Battle Dress Uniform), blue jeans, or a simple dress. I could where it with just about everyday, and it will always remind me of someone special.

    • Ellen Benitz says: September 27, 2012 at 8:57 am

      You bet! I wear mine with just about everything! I think the antler toggle makes the survival bracelet special.
      thanks and good luck!

  • susan says: September 26, 2012 at 10:00 am

    These are truely beautiful and unique pieces of artwork..made from natures bounty..these creative works of art stand alone in the workmanship and varity offered..my favorite are the stunning turquois turkey feather earrings!

    • Ellen Benitz says: September 27, 2012 at 9:00 am

      thank you for your kind words! I really don’t have a favorite, I put my heart into each and everything we produce and while my daughter and I are making them we often recall the hunts we’ve been on, it is so much fun and we are glad to be able to share it!
      Good luck!

  • Amy says: September 26, 2012 at 9:29 am

    It’s all so beautiful that it is hard to pick just one. But since I can only pick one, it would have to be the bracelet. I would wear it with anything!

    • Ellen Benitz says: September 27, 2012 at 9:02 am

      Thank you! If you are talking about the survival bracelet, I wear mine everyday! You just never know when you might need it! They are fun to make and we are glad to be able to share our passion about hunting and our jewelry!
      Good luck!

  • Michelle Thryselius (@teamt_mlt) says: September 26, 2012 at 8:03 am

    Gorgeous work!!!! Wow! I would lean towards the survival bracelet. I would wear it every day. How is that special? Every day that I can survive is a blessing to me. I have medical conditions that have altered my path in life. It altered them, it didn’t end them. I feel that I am a survivor each day as each day presents new possible challenges. The surivival bracelet is a representation of my daily survival. Blessed to be doing as good as I am and keeping it positive. Your work is an inspiration to think creative & embrace the things you love in life. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Ellen Benitz says: September 27, 2012 at 9:13 am

      Thank you for your kind words about our jewelry and our passion! I’m glad you are a survivor and didn’t let your health issues dictate your passion. You sound like a strong lady and the survival bracelet would be perfect for you! I would be proud to have you wear one of our creations.
      Good Luck and God bless!

  • Angi Ignarski says: September 25, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    I’d love the wire-wrapped antler pendant necklace! I’d wear it opening day of rifle season. That may not seem special to most of you, but it is to me! It’s been my goal for a long time to get my one and only little sister interested in hunting. Finally, last year, she WILLINGLY, purchased her first license! We hunt from the same special stand my husband and father built me. It fits us both perfectly, safely. And I cannot wait for her to harvest her first whitetail buck! When she does, I will take this necklace, and place it around her neck, for she has earned it, along with my respect, and the status of “HUNTRESS”. Oh, and we’ll both be wearing the all-mighty (yet sexy) regulation blaze orange!

    • Ellen Benitz says: September 27, 2012 at 9:44 am

      You are a lady after my own heart! I love to hunt, but it is really special when you can share it with someone you love, sister, daughter or friend! Harvesting her first buck will be pretty special, but sharing that moment with you will make it that much more memoriable! Good luck to you in the contest and in the hunt this year with your sister!

  • Kari-beth Davis says: September 25, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    I love the turkey feather earrings!! They are adorable! Also Love the antler pendent! I’m sure it would bring me luck on the stand and look great every day!

    • Ellen Benitz says: September 27, 2012 at 9:15 am

      You Bet! We love making them too and when you wear one it sometimes starts great conversations with total strangers!
      Good Luck!

  • Jennifer Brockman says: September 25, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    I ADORE the pheasant feather earrings! They really would go with anything! I’m all for wearing them with my brown or camel colored sweaters, jeans, and my favorite boots. They would be quite the conversation piece st the pheasants forever banquet!

    • Ellen Benitz says: September 27, 2012 at 9:17 am

      Oh yeah, I can’t tell you how many times wearing my jewelry has started a conversation with sometimes, total strangers! So far they have been positive conversations about hunting and that is great.
      Good luck!

  • Katy Large says: September 25, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    Definately the turkey feather earrings, they are absolutely gorgeous!!! I have the perfect green and brown dress to wear with them, black leggings and my brown leather riding boots, wonderful fall attire!!! They would be a great addition to the outfit!! Or any outfit for that matter!!! =)

    • Ellen Benitz says: September 27, 2012 at 9:24 am

      thanks Katy! Yes, the turkey feather earrings with their irridescent shine really look good with just about everything, especially if you are an outdoorsy gal.
      Good lukc!

  • Elizabeth Peterson says: September 25, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    Definitely leaning towards the feather earrings!! You could wear those with a little black dress, jeans and a tank and your favorite pair of boots!! They’re so versatile… perfect for date night or out with the girls!!!

    • Ellen Benitz says: September 27, 2012 at 9:26 am

      thanks, yup, the feather earrings are pretty versatile! They help to show a little of your wild side when you are out and about doing erroands or out with your gal pals!
      Good Luck!

  • Rebecca Vito says: September 25, 2012 at 9:48 am

    I would love the turkey feather earrings. I would most likely wear them with jeans and a sweater since that’s my usual attire, but they would be great to add a little colour to the outfit I’ll be wearing to my work’s Christmas party.

    • Ellen Benitz says: September 27, 2012 at 9:28 am

      You are right, the feather earrings go with just about everything you put on! And they would really show well with a short hair style or an updo for your Christmas party!
      Good Luck!

  • Michelle Bodenheimer says: September 24, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    I am in love with the feather earrings! I think they would look great with the dress I have picked out for this winter’s holiday formal at work, and they would work perfectly with jeans and a sweater. Honestly, I think they would finish off almost any outfit!

    • Ellen Benitz says: September 27, 2012 at 9:29 am

      You are absolutely right! I also think the Feather earrings are extremely versatile!
      Good Luck!

  • Alyssa Haukom says: September 24, 2012 at 11:27 am

    I just love all the items you’re making and I love the fact that you’re able to enjoy this new adventure together with your daughter and hunting partner! I just love the Antler pendant since I’m a big bowhunting fan. I’d wear it everywhere! It would show off well against my brown tweed turtleneck sweater, cognac suede jacket and dark denims. Thank you and good luck with your business!

    • Ellen Benitz says: September 27, 2012 at 9:38 am

      I too am a bowhunter! And the antler pendant would look great with about anything you decide to wear with it and it shows off your wild side as well! This opportunity has been a great way for me and my duaghter to spend more time together doing what we enjoy and talking about hunting while we do it!
      thanks and Good Luck!

  • rita schimpff says: September 22, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    Definitely the pheasant earrings. I love all game birds, but especially love to hunt, eat and decorate with pheasant – so why not wear them too? I would wear them dressed up with my tall black boots, short chamois skirt and brown turtleneck and dressed down and casual in the field.

    • Ellen Benitz says: September 27, 2012 at 9:33 am

      Yes, and the pheasant feather earrings would look great with the pheasant feather bracelet you just bought from us! Thank you for letting us share our passion!
      Good Luck!

  • Sheena Green says: September 21, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    I love the pheasant earrings! I would wear them with a camel colored sundress with black heels and use the earrings as a focal point.

    • Ellen Benitz says: September 27, 2012 at 9:40 am

      You sound like you’ve got a great sense for fashion and remeind me of my other daughter, who doesn’t hunt, but LOVES to wear our jewelry as well. (she is a shooter though and we often target shoot together).
      thanks and good luck!

  • Robin Follette says: September 21, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    I would love the antler pendant. I’d wear it with my favorite new turtleneck sweater (love dressing for cool weather!), Becoming an Outdoors-Woman vest, favorite comfy jeans and hiking boots to visit my daughter at her college. She’s studying wildlife biology and hopes to work with bears after grad school.

    Thank you for doing this for us!

    • Ellen Benitz says: September 27, 2012 at 9:35 am

      Yes, that pendant would look great with a turtle neck and it would also show your passion for your wild side and support of your daughter’s interest in wildlife biology! Be sure and check out our Etsy shop or Facebook page as we have lots of other antler pendant designs to pick from!
      Good Luck!