Rebecca, it has been an exciting year for you, tell us about EquestriMen?
It certainly has! I first came up with the concept of EquestriMen in January this year, with the aim of creating an equestrian clothing store just for men.
The more time I spent looking for suppliers the more I realised what a massive task I had set myself. The lack of options I was faced with showed me precisely why I was doing it, and how important the whole idea would be to male riders. This got me on to the importance of a rider being able to walk into an actual shop and try on different styles and brands of breeches, something as a woman I take for granted. I expect to walk into a shop and have a choice, but men just don’t get that opportunity.
I looked at the spread of male riders around the country and knew instantly that a normal retail store just wouldn’t work, even though I’m pretty central in the East Midlands, there wasn’t a high enough concentration of men to make a static shop worthwhile.
I realised if the riders couldn’t come to me, I would have to go to them instead! As well as having a good online presence.
Yes, so this leads us neatly onto Olympia, tell us how it has been getting organized for this event?
I first contacted Olympia at the beginning of August 2019, asking for information about exhibiting at the show in 2020.
They came back with a lovely email telling me about the special “Olympia Introducing” section designed to help new start-up businesses in their first year of trading. I was told that these places are very popular and that I needed to get my application in asap, as competition for a space would be fierce.
I duly sent in my application the next day, not giving myself any time to consider the implications of exhibiting at one of the most prestigious shows in the world!
It took them less than 3 weeks to offer me a space, I think I was one of the first in the “Olympia Introducing” section to be asked.
On the 1st September I signed on the dotted line and since then it has been an absolute whirlwind!
Placing orders with suppliers came first, and stock is still trickling in, with just 2 weeks to go (Panic!!)
Designing the stand was next and trying to sort everything from card machines down to clothes hangers, those little sizing cubes and paper carrier bags!
I have never been so excited, or stressed in my entire life, but I am loving the challenge of getting everything together.
What brands will you be taking with you?
I have got 6 main brands right now, I’m hoping I’ve got something for everyone, although I’m on a tiny stand I’m taking around 500 pieces of stock. My objective at this stage is to offer choice, so I’ve been concentrating on brands that have a larger offering for the male rider, either men or boys, and not just breeches but t shirts, hoodies and coats too.
And we have heard you have got some great names, tell us a bit more about them…
The high end brands include Pikeur, Kingsland, Animo Italia and Anna Scaparti.
I chose Pikeur as they have a large range of men’s breeches, I haven’t got their full selection in yet, but I keep adding to my stock with their different styles, the breeches are robust and stylish, typical German engineering.
Kingsland were actually one of the first brands to join me, they have a nice range of men’s breeches, but quite an extensive range of unisex coats, fleeces and body warmers.
Animo Italia and Anna Scaparti approached me, which was nice, we had a chat on the phone and the elegance of these Italian brands just can’t be beaten, I had to have them! Animo is aimed at the adult market, where as Anna Scaparti has a nice offering of boys clothing, which I was falling a bit short of, so these were ideal.
You have mentioned 6 brands are heading to Olympia, what are the other two?
My more mid-high ranges are Celtic and Horka.
Celtic were recommended to me by my friend, he follows the hounds and told me of their breeches, they are a slightly looser fit, which he said were a lot more comfortable when he is in the saddle for hours at a time, and looking at them I can see why, they just ooze comfort, I’m slightly jealous I can’t have any!
And lastly Horka, Horka were my first brand made in Holland where there seems to be a much higher ratio of men to women riders. This brand is quite close to my heart as their extensive range of clothing for men and boys has yet to be matched by any other supplier, not only do they have several styles of breeches, but modern tops, and not just 1 or 2 token designs, but choice! Loads and loads of choice! T Shirts, sweaters, hoodies, for both boys and men! Horka constitutes most of my offering in these areas, because I love the designs and variety available.
What do you want people to feel when they come away from your stand at Olympia?
With all these brands I feel I want to be able to offer a broad range of clothes, my main aim with this stand is for men to walk up to it and say What?! Is all this for Men!! Something female riders have become blasé about.