Jessica: Jessica with Guns and Lace here and I'm super excited to be talking with Stephanie Hayden of Discovery's Sons of Guns for an exclusive interview. We recently asked our fans who they would most like us to talk and weren't surprised that the answer from a huge majority that they wanted to hear more from you, Stephanie.
Stephanie: And I'm absolutely flattered.
Jessica: Our fans do love you. I've heard you describe yourself as just a girl whose dad owns a gun store that's on TV but your fans and I know better… we see you as a woman, mother, wife and daughter of a marine, willing to put yourself out there to inspire and empower women to learn to shoot. How did you begin shooting?
Stephanie: My dad got me started when I think I was about 5… He argues with me and says I was 6 or 7. I swear to him it was before that because by my 7th birthday I was already shooting. Really he just brought me out into the country and decided that that was the next tool I was going to learn to use. He had already taught me to do a bow and arrow and things like that. I had built my own blow darts well before then but that was the beginning.
Jessica: Well, and of course, the question we get most often from our fans at Guns and Lace is when does the next season begin?
Stephanie: And I can finally give you that answer: March 21st and I just got that info like last week when I went up to Georgia… yeah, over to Georgia, sorry, I do a lot of traveling.
Jessica: Is the filming complete for the upcoming season?
Stephanie: Well, it was and then we found out that we get to do an extra surprise wrap up episode. They basically their schedule was done before we were done with something we were doing and they didn’t want to miss it. They are going to come back and finish up and do one more episode for the season, so this season will run 9 episodes instead of 8, which is pretty cool.
Jessica: Very cool, so we've a bit of surprise coming up, I see?
Stephanie: And you know, honestly, there’s a lot of people in the industry that have kind of already figured out what’s going on but for a lot of the other people… They’ll be excited.
Jessica: So lots of new Red Jacket creations this season?
Stephanie: Oh definitely, and you know, I really have to say, this season, of course we did all the guns that you're used to seeing… We’ve had some really big stuff in. We had some pretty intricate things in too. We never know what actually makes the show. We just know what guns we’ve done over the last year basically. They filmed us doing all kinds of stuff but there was some pretty big inner turmoil within the company over the last year that we really had to push to work through. We just wanted to come out stronger and better through it all. We worked on that. I can’t give away too much so I gotta quit talking before I say things I shouldn’t. [laughs]
Jessica: Now, I don’t want you to get in trouble so new topic. [laughs] When it comes to women's self- defense, do you have a favorite handgun that you would recommend?
Stephanie: Aw man, see handguns are so personal. I don’t like recommending handguns because if I say… You see, I carry an FNH 40. It’s amazing. It’s got a great trigger to it. It’s a good power for me. At the same time, my best friend, who is about 5’4” 115 pounds soaking wet. She can’t shoot my gun. And I don’t want a woman to ever feel like she was intimidated or that she is not strong enough or she’s not anything enough – because she is. And I want them to know, it’s a very personal thing. Go to a range, try out a bunch of them, bring a girlfriend, bring a trainer… Do not bring your boyfriend.
Stephanie: I’m telling you, every woman I've ever trained that has come in and done classes with me, they’ve all told me the same thing, ‘My boyfriend just made me feel so bad about it.’ And that is what you want to avoid. I always suggest, go out, find what fits you and go with someone who is going to make you feel comfortable.
Jessica: Leave the men at home.
Stephanie: Right, honestly, as long they’re going and shooting and trying, I'll give them every bit of hope and motivation I can.
Jessica: Definitely, we're working on a new project here at Guns and Lace that we’ll be announcing pretty soon so I'm really excited about that and it’s right along that vein so keep an eye out for it.
One of my favorite things about the show is that you have a very close relationship with your dad. And I’m sure you know, I'm a daddy's girl. Tell me a little bit about your relationship with your Dad and the bond that the two of you have.
Stephanie: Well, here’s the… well, you said it was an exclusive, so I guess I’ll give you the part nobody knows. I didn’t grow up with my dad until I was about 9… or 10 or 12. Actually, it was between the ages of 9 and 12 that I wasn’t with him. These are very influential years in a woman’s life and I think that that actually contributed to how close we're because I had that initial… I grew up a daddy’s girl as a little girl but once you hit 12, you’re hitting that teenage spurt and all that. Well, he came in and he was more my friend. He was a leader in my eyes but not necessarily how most girls look at their dad. It wasn’t like I had to listen to him but I wanted to. I didn’t have to go visit him but I wanted to. It got to the point where literally, I was with my dad more than anybody, just because of the type of person he is. He is just one of those really giving, amazing people... If you ever get to sit and have a real conversation with him about anything enlightening, he speaks to your heart. He’s so open and real. It caused us to have one of the best relationships that I’ve ever had with anybody.
Jessica: That brings me close to tears. I'm very, very close to my dad and honestly, I'm who I'm today, because of his empowerment and encouragement. That touches me very deeply. I hear you have a new tattoo.
Stephanie: I do have a new tattoo!. You must have seen my Facebook page.
Jessica: Yes, I did my research. [laughs]
Stephanie: I’m a little bit of a fan of the ink. I like getting tattoos by amazing artists. This one was actually done by Jimmy Coffin. If you're a fan of L.A. Ink on TLC, he was one of the tattoo artists that wasn’t on the show. He didn’t want to be, he just wanted to do his work. Being on tv is kind of an interesting part in a lot of people’s jobs, you know? I got to actually, finally, after about 3 years of me and him talking about doing this tattoo, I got my tribute piece for my dad. It is two hawk fathers, wrapped around by a piece of leather, and 2 wampum beads, which are the beads the Native Americans in my tribe use to do all their decorative things. It’s right behind my ear. Most painful tattoo I ever got, but I kinda figured if it's a tattoo for my dad, it gotta be a pain.
Jessica: Sure, exactly, you know you’ve got to have that reminder to keep you in line.
Stephanie: [laughs] Right? My dad’s always been big about not getting tattoos where other people can see them if you have a t-shirt and a pair of jeans on. It’s a professionalism thing, and I completely understand it. So, when he found out about the tattoo and I told him it was behind my ear, he got so upset because I didn’t tell him what it was or who it was for yet. He was like, ‘Why would you do that? You can’t put things on your face or your head!’ I was like, ‘Dad, hold on, look…’ So I showed him the tattoo and then I told him what it was about and he literally, actually, cried. I was like, ‘Awww…’ and he said, ‘I love you.” And hugged me for like 20 minutes in the middle of the Shot Show. It was really cute.
Jessica: Oh, so did you get it while you were at Shot Show in Vegas?
Stephanie: I sure did. I got it in Vegas.
Jessica: Wow! Goodness, you should have called me, girl! I’d have gone with you!
Stephanie: Right on… We didn’t know we were even going to be able to actually do it until last minute. We were fighting getting back to the show for certain appearance times. Oh, it was crazy!
Jessica: It was definitely a crazy show. We’re still reeling from it here. Honestly, we've a lot of production and things that are coming out with relationships that we made there so I'm really excited.
Stephanie: Oh yeah, Shot Show will keep you busy throughout the year until the next Shot Show usually.
Jessica: Exactly! So I know that you and Kris have a new project that you started this past year called "I.A.C." Tell us what I.A.C. stands for and what it's all about.
Stephanie: Oh, I'm sure you all can guess what it stands for – It’s A Cannon! We couldn’t figure out what the heck to name it and it ended up... Oh yeah, you all saw that on last season. Kris was just like, “Screw it, call it, It’s a Cannon.” We are a defensive training facility/group. We have 5 or 6 trainers, hold on, I just got rid of one and hired another. We’ve got 6 trainers now. I’m trying to keep up with the new people. Basically, you can come in and learn just about anything. We do archery classes, muzzle loading classes, hand to hand combat. What Kris and I really concentrate on is the fun side of it though. Let the instructors do all the crossing the T’s and dotting, the I’s stuff. Me and Kris are running war games. You can come out and shoot air soft wars with us. We’ve got a 2 story indoor facility, all lit up and everything. We’ve got monitors and drop smoke bombs, all that kind of stuff. It’s a very realistic, simulated, air soft game.
Jessica: Very cool! I want to come play! [laughs]
Stephanie: Well, yeah, come play, girl!
Jessica: Yeah, it sounds like a lot of fun! You know I really believe in the importance of the second amendment and teaching shooting skills, especially empowering women to learn to shoot. I actually finished up my NRA Cert rifle and pistol this year and I'm starting to teach. You and Kris have been doing a lot of appearances and traveling for the show, the new project and of course being a wife and mom, you seem to balance it all very well. Do you have any advice for me?
Stephanie: Hire good help and it’s hard to find. Honestly, man, everybody gives me a lot of credit for holding it all together. Thing is, I've got the best team mate I could ever imagine. Kris is just incredible and without him, I really couldn’t have done all of this. And besides, just Kris, my whole family is behind me. We have such support within each other. It really is kind of a beautiful thing, so many families they can’t even talk to each other and mine freakin’ jumps through hoops to do whatever they can for all of our family. Without that type of relationship within each other this business would've never happened.
Jessica: Yes, and again I relate so much to you. Our whole family is involved in my efforts and we several other things going on as well that our Guns and Lace fans don’t know about but it truly is about everybody coming together and working hard.
Stephanie: There’s another part of it, everybody always says somebody should do something. Somebody should make this happen – you’re somebody! Don’t let anything stop you, don’t let anything slow you down, there is a way to do anything you want to do, you just have to believe it and work your ass off for it.
Jessica: Exactly, and another thing I love about your family and Sons of Guns is the effort you put into recognizing our veterans. Can we look forward to more episodes dedicated to our heroes?
Stephanie: Oh, definitely. I mean we’ve always got veterans coming in – it’s most of our clientele to be quite honest. Thing is a lot of the weapons you guys see, a normal civilian cannot own. Whether or not you know all the background on the clients, a lot of the guys you’re seeing are vets, whether we say it or not. They don’t like it when you sit there and make a big deal out of it – I don’t know why. I mean I kind of get it. My dad’s like that too. You try to talk to him about anything about the Marines and he is like, ‘Pshh… that ain’t nothing but a job. That’s me taking care of my people.” I love that but at the same time, you want to show that respect and appreciation. We’ve got a lot more coming with a lot of veterans’ programs.
It’s actually on my to-do list for one of the IAC… well, one of the big things that Kris and I want to do for IAC. There’s a lot of vets. The most of the vets in the U.S. are in Tampa who are homeless and they need medical help, they need food, they need shelter. They need a lot, but what they need most is a friend. Somebody that can they can talk to, confide in, that can help them do things, get them back and forth to work if they need it, get them on their feet. Me and Kris had this idea. We are wanting put an extra facility in our large facility that gives them a place to stay, gives them food, gives them a job, and none of it costs any money. It’s a really big project and it would take me a really long time to go through all of it but it's in the works so as soon as we get it moving a little better, I'll definitely be in touch with you to give you the scoop on that one. Jessica: Yes, please and we’d love to help in any way we can so keep me in the loop and if there is anything we can do, we will be there for you.
Jessica: Alright, Stephanie, I’ll
let you get going, I know you're really busy and I really appreciate
you taking the time to talk to me and share some of these details with
our fans as well. We just really believe in everything you're doing and
it’s all a very important cause. Again, thank you so much.
Stephanie: Thank you, lady.
We will talk soon, I'm sure. I gotta plan a trip out to Louisiana to
be able to go play because it sounds like a lot of fun.
Stephanie: You better! You better have your taste buds ready for some craw fish too.
Jessica: Oh, that sounds amazing! Alright, girl, well I'll talk to you soon.