Michigan woman's small business molds bullets into jewelry

By Natalie Broda
The Oakland Press

CLARKSTON (AP) - Inside a 1,000 square-foot studio in Clarkston, 47-year-old Tricia Auten and her team craft belt buckles and jewelry made with once-fired rounds of ammunition from Oakland County gun ranges.

Since founding Pretty Hunter in 2013, Auten's small business has donated over 3,500 American Pride necklaces to women in the military, law enforcement, first responders and conservation officers. For every item the line sells, Operation Feel Pretty donates one of the patriotic necklaces to a woman who has been nominated by someone else.

"I'd venture to say we've donated more than we've sold," Auten said. "When I started this business, I knew I wanted to give back and not just by writing checks."

Her moment of inspiration for the business came during a hunting show expo in Grand Rapids, The Oakland Press reported. As she walked by each of the vendors, Auten said she noticed there was a lack of products celebrating femininity available.

"We don't have to give up our femininity to compete in a male dominated industry. You can always pick up a rifle and a tube of lip gloss," Auten said. "I teach my daughter that it's okay to be strong and delicate, to be pretty and fierce, we can always have both variables."

The bullets used in the jewelry are meant to represent that duality, Auten said. The line has grown from one belt buckle design to an assortment of necklaces, earrings and rings. Recently, Pretty Hunter moved from its original Williams Lake Road location in Waterford to a new studio on Terex Avenue in Clarkston.

Pretty Hunter also supports annual outings for women recommended from the South Lyon-based Operation Injured Soldiers. Last year, the company took 15 veterans skydiving near Ann Arbor. This January, a group of veterans will be treated to a health and healing weekend at The Red Poppy Center for Renewal in Highland.

"It's a simple concept, but I can't tell you how many times we've gone to an event and just given jewelry to a veteran on the spot. Their reactions are tremendous," Auten said. "Sometimes it feels like America has amnesia until the next big tragedy and I just want to say, our nomination list is always open."

Published: Wed, Nov 13, 2019