Bonded by nature
Emily and Marcy Felch
When Emily Felch was in seventh grade, she got hooked on a biography of Theodore Roosevelt—not so much the president’s achievements in office, but the fact that he practiced taxidermy as a child. Not long after, she plucked a dead marmot from the road on her way home from babysitting, took it home and skinned it herself.
A few years and an overflowing closetful of animal carcasses later, Felch, now 20, got a call from her mother, Marcy Felch, who had driven by an empty storefront in the heart of Midtown and pictured the perfect space for her daughter’s—and her own—hobbies.
The Felches described Natural Selection—the store they now co-own on St. Lawrence Avenue—as a “natural history museum you can touch and buy.” Green succulents line one wall, and various animal claws and skulls are stacked against the opposite wall. Large mounts and horns adorn all sides of the shop.
“Our biggest thing is we want to cultivate an appreciation for the natural world,” said Emily.
“So people aren’t afraid of nature,” said Marcy. The two have a habit of finishing each other’s sentences.
Emily had been attending the University of Nevada, Reno, but didn’t feel passion for school the way she did for her DIY animal projects. Once her mom got the idea to open a store in that empty Midtown space, the choice didn’t take long.
“We decided in two days,” Marcy said.
Marcy and her husband believe in the reward of risk-taking. They instilled it in Emily and their two younger children, who she said constantly ask her when they’ll get a shot at starting a business.
“I wanted to make sure to encourage my kids to follow what they were passionate about, not what I thought they should do,” said Marcy.
When Marcy was in middle school, a science project involved creating a bug collection.
“I had the benefit of my mom being a really good sewer, so she made a net for me,” she said.
She soon learned how to pin insects. Along with her daughter’s interest, the store was an opportunity to get back into these hobbies.
She encouraged her daughter to continue to pursue taxidermy. Emily wanted an apprenticeship, but finding one was difficult. She said the male-dominated profession was quick to push her away; the taxidermists she called didn’t want a young woman working with them.
But Emily stuck with it, eventually finding a knowledgeable mentor, and she continued to learn.
“Just do it,” she said, passing the message to anyone—boy or girl—interested in taxidermy.
And, as her mother added, it helps to have a parent “who keeps a freezer full of roadkill for you.”
As business partners, Emily and Marcy are constantly teaching each other new things. Emily has big plans for the future of the store.
“I would love to turn this into a natural history museum. I’ve always wished we had a really solid natural history museum here,” she said.
In the meantime, she and her mom are enjoying their time together.
“I wouldn’t have done it without Emily,” said Marcy. In the middle of this room, packed to the brim with everything she loves with a passion, Emily smiled.
“I wouldn’t have done it without you either.”