By Britney Grover
Portraits by Johanna Henjes
Peighton Deitz is 16 years old, a junior in high school preparing for riding in college, and the owner and operator of Grey Horse Equestrian Belt Co. She started making her own belts when she couldn’t find any she liked well enough at shows to pay the high price for, and it evolved into a successful and growing company. Peighton continues to hand-make all the belts herself from her New Jersey home. She sells them online, through social media, at an increasing number of tack shops and at shows, where she also rides in the 2’6” hunters with her grey horse, Squid—one of two equestrian namesakes of her company name.
Peighton hopes to run her own fashion company someday, and she’s off to a great start, balancing her flexible business with riding and studying. “I basically have a work-from-home job at 16 years old,” she said. “I am too young to have a license, and even then, with my horses I wouldn’t be able to afford a car. All of my friends have jobs that they need to rely on other people to take them to, but for me the farthest place I need to go is my mailbox for my materials. I can make my belts as early or as late as I want; even if I end up too busy one day, I can always make up for it the next day. I like to post on certain days, but if I can’t then it’s no big deal. I really enjoy the flexibility of being at home.”
How did you become part of the horse world?
I began in the horse world at 5, not long after we moved down the street from a horse barn in New Jersey. I started taking lessons and going to horse camp. I started leasing a pony, Casper, about five years later for a short period before leasing a different pony, Pumpkin, for about a year. Then a little over five years ago ,we got Rosie, the original grey pony. I was showing 2’ with her. However, a little over three years ago, she went lame as the COVID-19 pandemic started, leaving me with nothing to really ride. Rosie has since been deemed serviceably sound for walk, trot and light canter. Rosie and I now work at horse camp together at the barn where I board, and enjoy the occasional light ride. In October it will be two years since I’ve had Squid, the second grey horse. We show at 2’6” together now. I also have recently joined an IEA team to help prepare for riding in college as I’m a junior in high school this year.
When did you start your company and what gave you the idea?
I started my company in early July of 2022 because I kept going to shows and seeing belts for sale that were expensive, especially for plain colors and a selection that I just didn’t love and couldn’t justify the price for. I’ve been sewing for about six years now so I figured I should just make my own, which is when I realized just how much people were raising the prices on them. I did a little research and chose some nice patterns and buckles for me and some friends. I was going to HITS Vermont, so I decided to make some for a more affordable price to bring there and I sold more than I expected. So then I just kept going. I started a Facebook and Instagram with a name inspired by Rosie and Squid—Grey Horse Equestrian Belt Co.
What part does your company play in the horse world?
My company can provide people with a stylish accessory while also having a purpose. I have many options of fun patterns and solid colors, along with different materials such as elastic, nylon and cotton. I have kids’ size 1”, but mostly I do 1.5” and 2”, one size fits most. I have all of these options for the same affordable price.
What’s the best part about being an entrepreneur?
I think that the best part about being an entrepreneur is having repeat customers who actively support my business. I love seeing when they repost my page and my product, comment and share with their friends. It’s really nice to see that they like my business enough to come back and keep buying more and interacting. The support I receive from strangers who love seeing me succeed and cheer me on every step of the way helps me persevere.
What challenges do you face?
A challenge of having a business is balance, especially during the school year. In summer it can be easier to find time to sew and promote my business. However, during the school year it can be challenging to balance riding, school, homework and also sewing while giving myself time to unwind. To help manage this challenge at especially busy times, my mom will occasionally help answer my messages and pack some orders for me. I also struggle with marketing while keeping costs down. I’m currently enrolled in a media and marketing class in school, which I hope will give some guidance in this area.
What great things have happened because of your business?
I’ve had many opportunities and have made many connections from my business. As my business continues to grow, it reaches more people. It happens more often that I arrive at a horse show with my trailer that has my logo printed on it and people recognize me and shout, “Hey Peighton, I’m wearing one of your belts!” I’ve established relationships with people I would not have had the opportunity to meet otherwise and are now some of my biggest supporters. I also love that I’m currently selling my belts in five tack shops and counting! I’ve also done team belts for college teams as well as big and small equestrian teams.
What are your goals for yourself and your business?
One goal I have for myself is to become a fashion designer. I’d like to go to college for either fashion or business, but possibly both so that I can succeed as a fashion business owner. I’ve always wanted to work for myself instead of a large company and I feel as though my current business is giving me the right start and an idea for my future. I’m very happy with how my business has grown so far; however, I’d like to continue building my connections and possibly be a more known name.
What are your riding goals?
I ride and show with my horse Squid. I do hunters at 2’6” and am showing in Pre-Childrens. I train with Rachel Bruynell at Fertile Green Farms. A riding goal of mine is I want to be able to be very consistent in my courses and riding throughout a show and a lesson; my goal with every ride is to do better than the last one.
What’s the best thing about your life?
I think the best thing in my life is the support I get from people around me, not just for my business but for everything I do. My mom, Jaime Deitz, helps me figure out so many things in my life and I could not do it without her. The rest of my family and friends are always there to support me as well. They all have different views on life and give me different ways to view problems that come up. My friend Johanna Henjes is the one who took my pictures for this story. She was very happy that I would be in a magazine and was excited to help. I believe the people near me are the best thing about my life.
For more information, visit Facebook and Instagram @greyhorseequestrianbelts or greyhorseequestrianbelts.myshopify.com
Photos by Johanna Henjes