What motivated you to found Huntley Equestrian and Daisy Clipper? What is the story behind these impressive new collections?
I grew up on Wilmington Island, Georgia, near Savannah. Next door to our house was a picture-perfect cedar shake barn. I saw my first pony there as a small child and have been riding ever since. From local horse shows to competing at the National Horse Show in New York City as an adult, horses have been a constant source of joy in my life. I worked for a Fortune 50 company for fifteen years, but still owned and showed horses.
In 2005, we built Towne Hall Farm near our home in Amelia Island, Florida as a commercial boarding facility. Being around horse owners every day, I hear what riders want and what is lacking in the market.
My husband owns an international business and I have often traveled with him to Europe and Asia. These trips opened my eyes to what can be made in various countries. During each trip, I would devote some time to finding the best suppliers for each equestrian product type. When I decided to leave my corporate job and start Huntley Equestrian, I had good factory contacts in place. It took three years from the design phase to the production phase of our first collection.
As a rider, mother, and farm owner, I think about the rider from head to toe.
Your line is very well-rounded. How did you create such a diverse product range?
When my daughter starting riding and competing at age five, I became interested in the children’s market. I quickly realized that there was room to put some fun and fashion in to children’s riding apparel. We use vibrant colors, embroidery, and playful horse-related themes in our children’s line, Daisy Clipper.
Huntley Equestrian is not only the name of our company, it is the name of our adult line of leather goods, accessories, and riding apparel. My thought in creating the Huntley line was to cover everyday riding needs and to be more fashion-forward in our women’s riding apparel. The equestrian lifestyle has always been the way I’ve lived, even though I wore a business suit five days a week for fifteen years. I wanted to create a brand that the rider could comfortably ride in and still look stylish outside of the barn.
With our leather goods, the focus is on fit and finish. We are very particular about which leather works best for each product. The correct leather must be chosen in order to be durable enough for the intended use but soft enough to accept a high stitch count. For example, we use Sedgwick leather from England for our bridles but Brazilian leather for our half-chaps. We currently offer a range of bridles and reins, half chaps and paddock boots.
Why do you feel that it is important to have a product range that completely outfits and accessorizes the rider?
As a rider, mother, and farm owner, I think about the rider from head to toe. What does a rider need for everyday riding? What products can I create that let individuals embody the equestrian lifestyle they love?
I started with pants, boots, belts, and half-chaps. During my travels I found unique fabrics and incorporated them in to our riding apparel lines. This resulted in such items as multicolor polka dot riding shirts for children, sequined riding pants for adults, and the perfect equine-themed tapestry overnight bag.
The most important aspect of the Huntley Equestrian and Daisy Clipper collections is:
The most important aspect of the HE and DC collections is for the rider to be able to enjoy every product every day. I wanted to create high-quality brands, but I also wanted everyone to be able to afford them. The intersection between high quality and affordability is a hard one to find, but I think we located it.
What makes these new brands unique?
The designs are certainly unique. Our choice of colors and materials are not currently seen elsewhere on the market. With our leather goods, we have taken a custom fit mentality to produce products that will work perfectly for most riders.
What does your typical day look like?
Early morning breakfast while checking email. An occasional Skype chat or phone call to a factory in Europe or Asia. Get the children ready for school. Drive forty-five minutes to Jacksonville for school and then head to the farm. Hopefully, a nice ride in the morning before heading to the office or warehouse. Answering more email, shipping orders, and unpacking new product arrivals. I usually eat lunch in the office. Early evening: home for dinner and homework. Maybe have a glass of wine and a little TV. Get in bed and read equestrian magazines.
It’s like buying a yearling and watching it grow up to be a nice show horse. The entire process is rewarding.
What motivates you to work on growing Huntley Equestrian and Daisy Clipper each day?
What motivates me to work on growing HE and DC each day is: (1) love of travel, (2) looking for that special artisan that is still a secret, and (3) creating a product from start to finish. It’s like buying a yearling and watching it grow up to be a nice show horse. The entire process is rewarding.
What is the best business advice you have ever received?
The importance of innovation and creativity in business will be your key to success. However, as a designer, my ideas are only as good as my customers think they are. Also, having a strong accounting background. Every business owner must understand a P & L Statement and Balance sheet.
We are currently in the process of launching our e-commerce web site. All of our items will be available on HuntleyEquestrian.com. The site will contain videos of our products as well as general horse knowledge videos. Also, the site will allow our customers to leave product reviews to let us and other customers know what they think of our products and customer service.