My latest Country Bumpkin Chic Chats to… guest is girl boss & entrepreneur Victoria Jenner from Stitched Equestrian.
You may be familiar with Stitched Equestrian from my social media, as earlier this year Victoria started producing some ‘of the moment’ slogan tops including ‘socially distant’ which have been a hit with the equestrian and countryside community – perfectly capturing the mood of the nation.
1. Welcome to the blog Victoria, please can you tell us a bit about the Stitched Equestrian brand & business…
I run Stitched Equestrian from my workshop at home, specialising in embroidery and printing onto a wide range of clothing items and equestrian apparel. As well as ‘off the peg’ options, I can supply bespoke equestrian kit for something truly unique.
2. Tell us about your motivation to set up Stitched Equestrian?
I was doing a charity trek in 2014 and wanted to get some clothing and saddlecloths embroidered to help me fundraise for the event. Whilst there were loads of embroidery companies out there, I struggled to get what I wanted and when it arrived, I was disappointed. So, whilst away trekking up to Everest Base Camp, I decided that I could probably do better both in terms of quality of the items and customer service.
As I’m a bit of a geek, I really enjoyed learning about all the technicalities to do with embroidery and what creates the best possible finish on a variety of different materials. I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with some high-profile riders and brands.
3. What has been your biggest learning curve setting up the business? And of course, your biggest highs?
After four years of being in business, I wanted to grow but couldn’t think how, so decided to become a retailer of equestrian clothing alongside the embroidery. Whilst the brands I invested in were great, sadly I struggled to ‘sell’ them as the garments had no connection to me and I’m not a natural salesperson. Whilst this was a costly venture (especially as I attended HOYS with them) it refocused me and allowed me to progress further by focusing on my strengths.
Biggest highs include seeing any of my work worn out and about. I get just as excited seeing my work at Badminton on professional riders as I do when I spot it locally on say a polo shirt I produced for a local business. And yes, I am boarding on a stalker as I always try to take a photo of it!
Another real achievement for me was being featured in the Best of British article in Horse and Hound. As with most riders, an H&H appearance has been a lifelong dream – let’s face it, I won’t get in with my riding.
4. Tell us about the idea behind the Socially Distant slogan t-shirts & jumpers which have been popular.
When lockdown was announced, I anticipated all my work to dry up because events had been cancelled, businesses closed, and no one would be thinking about branded kit.
So, to cheer myself up I made a sweatshirt with Socially Distant on in fun colours and wore it on an Instagram video – suddenly I had a lot of requests from people wanting to buy them!
I honestly can’t believe how popular they have been, and I’m so grateful to have been able to work during this pandemic and that they have helped to spread some joy during this time.
5. What can we expect from Stitched Equestrian in the future?
I have really enjoyed making the Socially Distant tops and I’ve designed a few other slogans which I hope will be motivational and empowering to the wearer. So, whilst I will continue with all of my existing embroidery services (and obsessively stalking my work at events!) I will be offering a range of clothing that I hope will allow the wearer to look good, feel good and do good.
And I’m delighted that 10% from each sale will be going to the mental health charity Mind. I will also move to using organic and sustainable garments where possible once the suppliers get back to normal.
6. What would your key piece of advice be for anyone looking to start up a business?
Have the confidence to trust your own instincts and create your own version of success rather than measuring yourself against others. My version of success is ‘find something you love doing and be the best you can at it.’
Also, where possible do what you do best and outsource the rest – as a control freak this is a tricky one for me, but you can’t be an expert at everything and so focus on your strengths.
Quick-fire Country Bumpkin Chic round:
1. Favourite equestrian event to attend?
For riding – The Hickstead Derby as I love competing in the small Derby that they run in ring two. For a day out – Badminton as my husband loves it, so do the dogs and maximum chances to spot my embroidery!
2. Favourite client(s) to work with?
Controversial – I love them all! But I do have a great relationship with the guys at Cranford Stud Eventing and my school friend Tamara owns VIP Equestrian and is always singing my praises.
3. Who inspires you the most in business & equestrian sport?
I take great inspiration from Helena Donald (@girl_unfiltered) and Tara Punter PR – both on the mindset side of things, as I think that having a positive mindset is so important. In equestrian sport Laura Collett – talented and dedicated but also able to pick herself up when things don’t quite go to plan and not only carry on but excel. Also, my friend Bex Mason, (Bex Mason Showjumping) she is always working to improve herself and her horses and now achieving results on the national stage – hard work pays off.
4. Secret weapon – in business and with horses?
With horses – talking…. I am always talking to the boys! Whether on the big spooky ginger to persuade him that the lamb behind the hedge isn’t actually holding a weapon, or on my new slightly uptight warmblood to reassure him and gain his trust. However, on Wilson (aka Super Wilson) this is usually to give myself confidence or to thank him for taking me around a challenging track!
My secret weapon in business is my husband Nick! He is so supportive, always calm and very practical – it is definitely a team effort.
5. Favourite motivational quote or song?
Dream Big, Aim Higher…
Tell us all the places we can find Stitched Equestrian online: