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Profile: Jim Favazzo, Feather guru

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Jim Favazzo, Feather guru

Jim Favazzo, Feather guru

Dyeing and selling feathers wasn’t exactly the career path Jim Favazzo envisioned, particularly given his employment history. Before he got into the feather business, he was in a decidedly more stereotypically masculine business — construction. But love makes you do crazy things: He took the helm of the family business because it was deeply important to his wife, Jodi. Beside, he’s certainly not complaining about going from heaving bundles of two-by-fours to flicking around feathers. “To come up here and be doing this, it’s completely different,” he says. “It’s kind of humorous because I never dreamed I’d be doing this at this age.”

This family-owned feather business has some wings. Rainbow Feather Dyeing Co. was started by Favazzo’s father-in-law, Bill Girard, in 1964 in California. He moved the business to Las Vegas — where things like flamingly bright, fuchsia-hued boas are just part of your everyday scenery on the Strip — in 1995. Like Favazzo, Girard’s decision to launch the business started as a favor to his wife, who wanted to make flower-style arrangements with bright, bold feathers. Girard went to the drawing board — well, actually, the kitchen — and tried his hand at dyeing them on the stovetop. It worked, and then some: Today, Rainbow Feather Dyeing Company (rainbowfeatherco.com) is one of the few feather dyers and sellers in the U.S. These days, the process is largely the same, just on a larger scale, using commercial tanks and dryers. (Unless you’re talking about pheasant feathers, which are too big for the dryers and have to be air-dried.)

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Jim and Jodi moved to Las Vegas to help out, taking on the business in 2007 after Girard died. Jodi passed away about two and a half years ago, after which Jim put up his hard hat for good and stepped behind the counter full-time. His two sons, Jeff and Justin, also help out. “It’s been a family business ever since day one, and it probably always will be,” Favazzo says. But any pressure on his sons to carry on a legacy is feather-light. “I always told them, ‘Don’t do anything you don’t like to do because you won’t do it right. If you enjoy doing it, you’re going to do a good job at it.’”

Odd requests? He gets a few. He recalls an order from Victoria’s Secret about five years ago, asking for feathers about four or five feet long. “They don’t grow that big, so we basically joined them together to make two to four feathers look like one, which was pretty cool. It was a lot of fun, and they were happy with it.” Not surprisingly, Cirque du Soleil brings in a lot of work for the company, and Rainbow Feather also fills orders for the Polynesian Culture Center in Hawaii, Disneyland, Disneyworld, and many of the shows throughout Las Vegas, big and small. “I’ll sell you one feather,” says Favazzo, “or I’ll sell you 100 pounds of feathers.” — Sage Leehey

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