How did you become part of the horse world?
I’ve been obsessed with horses for as long as I can remember! I have been drawing them since I could hold a pencil and sketching out my dream horse property since the age of 6. I now live on a dream-come-true hobby farm in a bedroom community outside Seattle. We have an adorable brick Tudor home, a circular driveway and a barn in the back—exactly like I drew as a child! I rode in Pony Club with my heart horse, Lady, a beautiful OTTB mare. She is the inspiration for Dapplebay because she had no markings but the most lovely dappled bay coat. I now have two dapple bay OTTBs, both geldings—Pie and Ranger—who are my daily inspiration, models and large freeloading pets.
When did you start your company and what gave you the idea?
Dapplebay was founded in May 2011 when I was living in the beautiful Georgia countryside. I was new to the area and the horsey scene, and my Pacific Northwest riding wardrobe was not cutting it in the hot and sunny South. I felt like it was impossible to find cute, equestrian-themed graphic tees. So, I created my first design—Live Free & Jump XC—and posted it on Facebook. The post went viral, and the rest, as they say, is history! I set up my little store booth all over the Southeast, and Dapplebay grew from one design into a full product line. More than that, it has been the catalyst that has connected me to so many amazing horse-crazy ladies.
What part does your company play in the horse world?
Dapplebay is all about celebrating our inner #crazyhorsegirl with fun, unique, artsy equestrian apparel and accessories. The best part is the community that has formed around the brand. Our motto is “good rides only,” and it doesn’t just mean you always have a good ride: It means that we put our horses first. We know that every moment with them is a gift. We practice gratitude and positivity both with horses and humans. As a result, we have a huge following of fantastic, like-minded equestrians who cheer each other on. These women support one another and celebrate the amazing ways horses teach us, humble us, and ultimately connect us closer to ourselves and one another.
What is the best part about being a woman entrepreneur?
One of the best parts is having ideas and bringing them to life! I have always been a creator, and I have loved sharing my creations with others. Dapplebay allows me to do this in a way that aligns with my other passion—horses! My favorite part is how it has connected me with so many women with similar passions.
What challenges do you face?
Coming up with ideas is never a challenge for me. The true challenge I seem to have is too many ideas! It makes it hard for me to pick a direction and stick to it. I have a difficult time narrowing down my ideas. I tend to pick all of them to execute instead of being strategic. It’s funny, because in my career, I advised business owners on strategy before being full-time with Dapplebay. It’s a cobbler’s shoes scenario for certain because I can’t follow my own advice to save my life! It results in me taking on too many things all at once and feeling overwhelmed.
What great things have happened because of your business?
I had a desire to create a virtual space where Dapplebay fans could connect with each other, and it culminated in the creation of the Barn Aisle group on Facebook. I was worried that a Facebook group wouldn’t be able to foster the same feelings of support and connection we experience from one another in an actual barn aisle. But the group has been just that—a wonderful, safe and supportive space where we cheer, help and learn from one another. It truly brings me to happy tears several times a week, reading what is shared and seeing these women interacting with each other.
What are your goals for yourself and your business?
At my core, I am an artist. With this in mind, my goal is to create as much fun, beautiful horse-themed artwork as possible and put it on as many things as I can! Truly, I just want to create things that bring my customers joy. So, I guess my goal is to keep making new and wonderful things that bring beauty, joy and inspiration to my incredible customers and supporters.
What advice would you give to other women considering entrepreneurship?
Business can be a tough climb when you confuse it with a passion project—i.e., when it actually needs to make money! As a creative person, I struggle with this immensely, and becoming a businessperson has been a steep learning curve for me. I would caution anyone to determine early on if they’re pursuing a passion or building a business. If I had asked myself this question seriously in the beginning, I would have avoided many wrong turns on my journey to having a successful and profitable business.
What’s the best thing about your life?
The best thing about my life? Well, it would have to be my family, and that includes all the four-legged family members. I don’t have any human children yet, but my animals feel like my kids, and it brings me great joy to know that they’re being taken care of and living their best lives. That my husband and I can provide that for them on our little home farm brings me a great amount of joy.
Best kept secret about what you do?
It’s all about relationships, and people. In marketing, in business, in life…it all comes back to connection. How you treat people matters, doing your best matters, and being honest matters. Do those three things well, and you will achieve success.
For more information, visit dapplebay.com
Photos by Kayla Norene Photography