Equestrian business is thriving, no matter if you buy and sell horses, tack, or own your own unique service business.
The equestrian world is inundated with choices for new and used apparel and tack, and just about anything really, that I decided to start a conversation with some equestrian businesses that have both been around for a while as well as the new-to-the-grind smaller businesses that want to express their voices and passions for the industry.
I recently caught up with Lauren from The TackHack, an equestrian-inspired consignment boutique who's mission is to make it simple for equestrians to buy and sell authentic, high-quality used tack and riding apparel.
Is The TackHack your full-time job? If not what else do you do?
Building The TackHack is my full-time job! I wasn't anticipating starting a business so soon after graduating from business school, but I recently returned to the sport and had the idea after speaking with new riding friends about their frustrations with buying and selling discounted tack and apparel on eBay and Facebook. I did some market research and was so excited by the opportunity that I decided to take the entrepreneurial plunge.
While there's certainly stress involved in starting a business, it's incredibly rewarding and energizing to be working within an industry that I'm so passionate about.
Tell me about the name...The TackHack.
Let's be honest; our sport is super expensive! It personally it took me a very long time to be in the financial position to afford the sport as an adult. I'm inspired by the equestrians out there who do whatever it takes to make riding fit within their budgets. It's no secret that consignment and buying second-hand are strategies for making the sport more financially accessible. So the TackHack is a tech-enabled "hack" for buying and selling your tack. But beyond being a catchy name, The TackHack brand is about celebrating and enabling the passion that equestrians have for horses and for the sport.
How do you feel you can make a difference in the equestrian world?
The world needs more passion. Equestrians are arguably the most passionate tribe of individuals out there. The TackHack believes in flaming, enabling, celebrating and spreading that passion. Our mission is to use our platform and our service to help riders fuel their passion and make the sport more accessible to a larger number of people. It's early stages when it comes to our branding and visual identity, but I'd be proud if The TackHack was able to take some of the stigma away from buying used. After all, people's commitment to this sport should be celebrated! Further, from a sustainability perspective, I love the idea of extending the lifecycle of equestrian products in order to minimize waste.
What's your riding background? Current horse situation - do you own or lease? How did you fit in riding with working?
I caught the horse bug as a summer camper. I completely fell in love with horses and with the sport. There was a hunter jumper barn in my neighborhood where I started taking lessons. I spent every possible minute there as a kid. Grooming horses and mucking stalls was my joy! Eventually I started showing in the pony hunters and worked my way up to the junior hunters. Like many juniors, I stopped riding when I left for college. The goal was always to work hard enough to be able to afford the sport again. I lived in New York City for many years and found it pretty impossible to afford both rent and horses! I'm currently living in Northern Michigan just down the road from GLEF for those who have shown there! Life here is much more affordable, which makes taking lessons again much more financially realistic. I'm blessed to live close to Northern Pines Farm, which is a hunter jumper barn owned by Melissa Hirt. She's fabulous and has incredibly nice lesson horses that I'm fortunate enough to ride. Stewart, my retired junior hunter, lives on my parents' farm, so we go on lots of trail rides through the cherry orchards up here. As a startup founder, I work 7 days a week, but I'm lucky to be able to make my own schedule which makes it easy to schedule lessons.
Tell me about the inspiration behind building the brand and business.
I know this sounds corny, and I know this word is thrown around a lot, but passion is really at the core of this business, both in terms of The TackHack's brand mission and in terms of why I decided to fully invest in building this as my full-time job. Before I went to business school I was actually a practicing lawyer. I love the intellectual side of the law, but hated arguing with people in court. I noticed a lot of older attorneys who really just hated their jobs and looked pretty miserable on a daily basis. As an equestrian, I know what it feels like to have a true passion. I think it is easy for us as riders to take that for granted, but stop and think about it -- there are entire books dedicated to helping adults discover their passion in life. So many people are seeking that thing that makes them tick. But as equestrians, we know that horses and riding are our passion! We know what lights us up and brings us joy. In many ways, I've always been searching for that feeling at work. I returned to school for my MBA because I was on a mission to find that job that brought me that level of joy and purpose. So I think in many ways starting an equestrian business was somewhat inevitable, although it sure did take a lot of twists and turns to get here!
What's on deck for The TackHack in 2019?
I am SO excited to take the business to the next level. We recently completed our first round of fundraising, so I'm looking forward to working with a Detroit-based agency to create a fun visual identity for the brand. I'm also looking forward to elevating the functionality of our website. Our current platform was simple for me learn but offers terrible filtering options! I'm super obsessed with creating the best customer experience possible, so our current site functionality drives me nuts.
Beyond that, I'm looking forward to hitting the road and getting to know my customers. It's important for me to build a service and an experience that is customer-driven, so I can't wait to start getting feedback. On that note, I'd love to hear from people!
Feel free to email Lauren with feedback, suggestions or questions.
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