Leading women inside the gun industry talk shop, sexism and climbing the career ladder
By Christen Smith
Stacy Starnes became CEO of DoubleStar in August 2017. (Photo: Laura Burgess Marketing)
Stacy Starnes likes to joke about her two-decade ascent to the top of DoubleStar, the Kentucky-based gun manufacturer her in-laws founded in 1977.
“I’m kind of the new kid on the block because I’ve only been here 23 years, so it’s kind of funny,” she said. “My husband has done it since he was 2-years-old.”
Starnes grew up the daughter of an entrepreneurial coal miner who she said instilled within her a passion for business and guns, though she never considered a career in the latter.
“I began shooting at five with my father,” she said. “I didn’t imagine being in the gun industry, but I knew I’d run a business one day.”
Then she met Jesse Starnes while studying accounting at the University of Kentucky in 1993. She began working part-time for his parent’s business — J&T Distributors — making AR-15 parts at the family home in Winchester, Kentucky.
“I worked on and off, before we got married, doing gun shows,” she said. “I came on full time in 2002 and did accounting, general management, things like that. We were really small then, so I did whatever needed to be done.”
J&T Distributors became DoubleStar in