My next guest on the blog is the lovely Sarah Clarke founder of Finer Equine who I met at the 3rd Hiho Silver #HihoAndCo event at Forde Abbey last autumn. There was a very memorable moment when King of the Road Andrew brought some horses to Forde Abbey for Sarah to try out some of her gorgeous Finer Equine products on the horses and take some photos.
Since that meet up, I’ve been very lucky to product review the Finer Equine summer sheet for the NFU Countryside magazine as part of Rhea Freeman’s Social Supercharge: Riders course. Finer Equine’s products are exquisite, and I’m delighted for you to find out more about the founder behind the brand.
1. Welcome Sarah to the CBC blog, can you tell us a bit about your motivation behind setting up Finer Equine?
I’d been running a small property renovation business when a bad fall from a horse meant I couldn’t work, go up a ladder or sit on a horse for some time. Something many of us can relate to given the social distancing measures seen this year.
I decided to try and start selling an improved version of a saddle cover I had made to protect my new saddle with a faux sheepskin lining and girth sleeves. In our first week, we sold what I had forecast for our first quarter! From there, I decided to pour my focus into Finer Equine. In some situations, you might not be able to find a silver lining – but there’s nothing to stop you from making one.
2. How did you come up with the stirrup cover idea, it’s so unique, I’d never heard of them until discovering Finer Equine?
Following our saddle cover design, I thought – what else could be better that’s already out there? Sometimes that means taking a step back and working out what you really need a product to do for you personally. I wanted to save time tack cleaning and be able to protect my saddle while lunging my young horse without my stirrups falling down. The waterproof lining and metal eyelet we use is the perfect, yet simple solution for this.
3. What would you say looking back is a key piece of advice for starting a business? Where do you start?
Be brave and be passionate. If you’re doing lots of things at the beginning that give you butterflies, you’re probably along the right track. If you show others how genuinely passionate you are about what you’re doing, it will be the most powerful marketing tool you have… and it is free!
4. What has been your biggest high(s) with Finer Equine?
We have had so many highs in our short time trading it’s hard to pick just one. Winning a Gold BETA Award at Your Horse Live just 14 months after we began trading will always be a special memory for us. Something we miss at the moment is meeting people on our show stand and hearing about how they love our ideas and our British crafted quality. Knowing that we are consistently meeting our biggest two objectives as a brand is always a huge win for us!
5. What can we expect from Finer Equine in the future?
We have some really exciting new ideas in the pipeline. More innovative designs that bring something new to the market and maintain our high-quality standards. There could be some new ranges outside our current Luxury Luggage range too. Watch this space!
Quickfire Country Bumpkin Chic round:
1. Favourite equestrian event to attend?
Burghley is incredible! Both, as an exhibitor and a visitor.
2. A favourite visitor to the stand?
I love to meet new people on the stand and equally, love seeing familiar faces who keep coming back. Hearing the love people have for our products on the stand is one of my favourite parts of my job. I am really missing the shows at the moment but thrilled that we were invited to take part in some online initiative such as Virtual Royal Windsor and Philomena of London’s Home Shopping Channel on YouTube.
3. Who inspires you the most in business and in dressage?
Oooo tricky, there are a few! Charlotte Dujardin is a huge inspiration for me – she has worked hard to be where she is, has a tenacious attitude in training and perfects the details. Something I try to bring to my business and also my training.
4. What item could you not survive without?
My ‘to do’ list. I always have a million things to remember and no matter what it is, if it isn’t written down, it isn’t getting done. Everything from strategic product launches to remembering to buy the husband’s birthday gift has to go on there! I think my life would fall apart without my system!
5. Favourite motivational quote?
‘The simpler, the better. Making something more complicated is easy, making something simpler is much harder.’ My father once said this to me, no matter what you’re facing whether it’s designing a new product, a personal challenge or a dressage training issue – the simplest solution is usually the best one.
Tell us where are all the places we can find Finer Equine online: