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  • An Interveiw with Laura Romfh

    Equestrian Collections Chats with Laura Romfh


    Laura Romfh, creator of Romfh equestrian clothing, was born into a Floridian equestrian family and started riding at the age of two on her grandparents Fort Lauderdale farm.  From lesson, to pony club, to Dressage, and on to Eventing, riding has been a part of her life from the very beginning.

    After high school, Laura attended the Parsons School of Design in Los Angeles.  With a lifetime of riding, and the best fashion design education, the obvious next step was to start her own equestrian clothing company ... at the ripe old age of twenty-five!

    Laura, also an avid runner, hiker and back-packer, loved the outdoors and how special fabrics and fibers made the outdoors even more fun and comfortable. She saw the equestrian market was missing this entirely. At that point equestrian clothing was all made of cotton, acrylic, nylon or polyester. She also noticed that riding clothing didn't really fit. The polos were boxy and unflattering; the breeches shaped for little boys with no curves. Basically, clothing was completely unchanged from the 1970's and 80's.

    The Romfh clothing line has really taken off!  Romfh has come to exemplify classic, no-nonsense tasteful equestrian fashion for serious rider athletes.  

    EC:  Your new Fall/Winter Romfh International line is now up on Equestrian Collections.  It has such a wonderful simple elegance to it!  Could you tell our shoppers the process you use to get a collection like this from first concept to finally being available for purchase?

    LR: As well as being a rider, I am also an avid shopper!  Between trips to Europe, shopping both on line and going to stores, my mind is constantly seeking clothing and trends which lend themselves to the equestrian market.  I'm always seeking need for our equestrians and figuring out the best way to fill those.  Each season I put together a collection which makes sense for my brand and helps fulfill some of those equestrian desires.  As well as constant communications with my factories, I also travel and meet with them several times a year.  They, too, are searching the markets to bring me the newest and latest trends and developments they've found.  We all work together to bring a comprehensive group of products and styles which make sense with current market needs.

    EC: How long does the complete cycle take from conception to completion?

    LR:  Its always an on-going process, but from the development sketches to launching new items available to the public takes about one year.  There are exceptions, when, at the last minute, new needs pop up and I'm able to turn items around from customer request in about five to six months.

    EC:  Do you design a "wish list" of products?

    LR:  Of course! I  always start "pie in the sky" and work my way down to what items make the most sense, keeping in  mind technical fit, financial aspects, and holes in the market.

    EC: How do you decide on complete new styles vs. updates to ones that have already been popular?

    LR:  Some items are so popular, it doesn't make a lot of sense to change them right away.  For example, by Romfh CoolMax Show Shirt, launched the first season of Romfh, essentially unchanged (give or take small fit adjustments over the past fifteen years) was my number one selling item for most of the life of the company.  This spring 2012, we have completely updated the look, feel, and fit of this popular item.  We continue to be on the cutting edge of fabric trends and consumer needs, while never losing the essence of what makes this Romfh show shirt popular.  The updated version is called the Romfh Pirouette Show Shirt, featuring lightening fast fabric colling performance, better fit, while continuing to respect the great simple concepts that make this shirt work.

    EC:  What inspires your Color Palette for the season?

    LR: I pull from a combination of what I've seen while doing market research and what colors inspire me.  I never know where these inspirations will come from.  Sometimes movies, sometimes seeing new exhibitions at museums and many times from what I've seen while traveling Europe and Asia.  I always bear in mind our needs as equestrians.

    EC:  When you design, do you have a particular "rider" in mind?  What does she do?  What does shes look like?

    LR:  For better or worse, she is me in many ways.  Having been a rider all my life, I am familiar with the different needs of equestrians, no matter your age or size.  I know my own mental thought process when I'm shopping and trying on clothing.  I try to make clothing which makes a woman say "Yes!  I look and feel great!" when she puts on my clothing.  As a woman, I know nothing makes me happier and more confident than loving how I look and my overall comfort.  And really, in our sport, as much as we are athletes, we are all women who want to look and feel great.

    EC:  Heather Blitz, international Dressage Grand Prix Rider, is an avid wearer of your clothing line.  Why do you think your clothing works so well for her?

    LR: Dressage, much  like Romfh clothing, is the perfect marriage between strength and beauty.  Heather is the essence of athletic elegance, both on and off the horse.  It's only a natural fit that Romfh clothing and Heather compliment each other.  I'm happy that Romfh is often a part of Heather's generous contribution to making our sport as beautiful and powerful as it is today. 

    Thank you Laura!           



  • An Interveiw with Kelly Herd

    Get to Know Kelly Herd


    Jewelry is always in style! Whether you are buying a gift for yourself, or your favorite equestrienne, a quality piece of jewelry is always appreciated - especially if it has a bit of equestrian flair. Equestrian Collections recently had the opportunity to interview Kelly Herd, of Kelly Herd Jewelry.  Kelly Herd Jewelry is unique in that they combine state of the art craftsmanship, original design, and a love of horses and equestrian lifestyle, to create jewelry you will treasure for years.     

    EC:  You've been in the jewelry business for over twenty years. Can you tell our customers a bit about how you got started ?


    Kelly Herd:  The jewelry industry is very unique. No matter the size of the company, the industry is primarily derived from family based businesses.  The same hold true for me.  I actually had dabbled in the jewelry business while in college in the mid '80s, and started designing and manufacturing in 1992. 

    EC:  Tell us about your designs.  While you advertise as a designer of "Western Jewelry," I see a lot of English influence as well.

    Kelly Herd: I have the advantage of being a person from the jewelry industry that crossed over into the equestrian industry, so I don't take an "either/or" approach to riding disciplines.  When someone asks us about our line, we tell them we have 10% Western and 10% English, with 80% that crosses over for both.  This year we have used a more contemporary influence in our designs.  Each year we try to bring a breath of fresh air to what we offer.  

    EC:  You specialize in equestrian themed jewelry.  Many of our equestrian clothing designers watch trends outside the equestrian world.  Do you do the same?  What trends do you see in jewelry fashion?

    Kelly Herd:  Since my background is in the jewelry industry, I often visit with other business friends that have a global perspective on trends.  One of the biggest driving forces right now in the jewelery industry is the high cost of precious metals.  As most people have heard, precious metal prices, especially gold, have been rising steadily.  We have been on top of this market change, and for the last five years have been focusing on designing our line in sterling silver and alternative metals due to such high cost.  Our number one focus is on providing the consumer with style combined with value.

    EC:  Do you have a favorite or signature piece?  Or perhaps a design that surprised you with its popularity? 

    Kelly Herd: My favorite piece is the ring I designed for my wife.  We got married on the 18th green of Pebble Beach Golf Course and I did not let her see the ring until the ceremony.  Other than that, I have designed a big 5 ring for a gentleman who hunts big game.  I've also made a California congress woman a belly button ring!  We have the ability to do almost anything.  Every year brings a surprise.  

    EC:  I'm dying to ask who the Congress woman was, but we'll let her remain anonymous!  Your silver jewelry is made of .925 Sterling Silver.  Since most of us aren't jewelry experts, can you explain what that means?  What should consumers be looking for in a quality piece of jewelry?

    Kelly Herd:  By its very nature, silver by itself is too soft to use as an everyday metal.  However, when you combine silver with an alloy metal, such as copper, it gives silver strength strength and a functional purpose.  This allows the metal to retain its value.  The term "sterling silver" find its history from the 13th century, referring to its strength.  ".925" means that 92.5% of the jewelry is composed of pure silver, and the remaining 7.5% is an alloy (such as copper) used for strength.  Since we manufacture our own jewelry, we also alloy our own silver and gold. For those who are looking for a quality piece of  jewelry, find something that is comfortable and that you can wear everyday.  The more you wear it, the more you can appreciate it.  

    EC:  What about caring for jewelry.  Is it really safe to wear a quality piece of jewelry around a horse barn?

    Kelly Herd:  Our jewelry is made to wear all the time.  Rings probably see the most contact of any piece we sell.  Of course, the consumer should have certain considerations where they wear their jewelry.  The barn and the ball field open up certain risk just by wearing jewelry!  We rhodium finish our silver jewelry to help with the issue of tarnishing.  Time, elements, and care are all factors in how your jewelry looks.  Wear your jewelry as often as you can, but a little rinsing with mild soap, warm water, and a touch of the polishing clothe will go a long way in keep that "just like new" shine.

    EC:  Can you tell our customers a bit about what you have in the works?  Any new designs you are working on?

    Kelly Herd:  We have featured almost a dozen new designs for the fall and holiday season.  These can be seen on Equestrian Collections.  We also have seen a rise in popularity of custom designed pieces of jewelry.  Everyone has their own taste, but quality and value never go out of style.                


  • An Interview with Goode Rider

    An Interveiw with Goode Rider

     
    This week we are delighted to have an exclusive interview with the founders and designers of the wildly popular Goode Rider equestrian fashion line.  Both Lorna Goode and Kristin Calandra have extensive professional training in the fashion industry.  Lorna has two degrees in design, one from Sweden, and one from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising; while Kristin has degrees from the Fashion Institute of Technology, as well as fashion merchandising from the University of Delaware. After their formal educations, they both ended up at Levi Strauss & Co.  Ultimately, they left Levi Strauss to start their own equestrian design company, and Goode Rider was born.
     
    EC: What brought about the creation of Goode Rider?
     
    Kristin: We started the business because we ride and there was a huge lack of fashion and clothing that actually fit.  Lorna has ridden since she was 7 years old and competes in Dressage, and does quadrille events with her Andalusian stallion.  I ride for pleasure and relation to get away from the "office" work.
     
    We know that women live busy lives with work and kids and we wanted to create a lifestyle brand that could take you to the barn and beyon.  SO even if you have ridden and been at the barn, you can continue with your day without looking dull, but actually be fashionable and feel good about what you are wearing.
     
    Making clothes that are feminine, sexy, and actually fit women is what we strive to do.
     
    EC:  Our customers LOVE your Jean Riders, in all their various versions.  They say they are the only breeches that really fit like real jeans.  You are both from Levi Strauss.  Has that impacted your Jean Rider designs?
     
    Lorna:  We also LOVE to wear jeans, but most denim didn't stretch enough to actually be comfortable when riding. Who else could design the perfect riding jean other than the Levi Girls?? We worked very hard together with some of our fabric mills to develop a denim fabric that is bi stretch. Bi stretch is very hard to control in sewing and shrinkage.  Our factories have to test every fabric roll before cutting.  We are very excited about the result and feel we have the best "jean" in the market today.
     
    EC: Aside from the really fantastic location photography you do in Northern California, where to you get your style influence?
     
    Kristin:  We travel to Europe, Asia, and New York to shop and people watch.  We like to infuse the latest trends from across the world into our riding collection.
     
    EC:  Do you have a particular customer in mind when you design? Who is she?  What is she like?
     
    Lorna: As we mentioned earlier, we know that women live busy lives with work, school, and/or kids.  We created a lifestyle brand that can take you from barn and beyond. Our products relate to a broad age group of women.  It is classic yet fashion forward.  We feel like there is something in there for everyone whether you are 15 or 60.  The Goode Rider customer cares about fashion, and what she looks like, and she wants comfort!
     
    EC: Unlike a lot of equestrian attire, Good Rider looks, and wears, like high quality ready to wear fashion.  Is that intentional?
     
    Kristin:  Absolutely intentional!  We are a lifestyle brand.  Uniting fashion with function is what we do.  Good Rider clothing is technical and you can do any sport - ride,ski, hike- in it and stay fashionable enough to wear it out when you are done.  We probably sell our outerwear to as many non-riders as riders.  And we know that our riders wear our products while they are not riding as well.
     
    EC: Last year, you premiered a new line of show clothing.  How does Goode Rider show attire differ from what we've seen before?
     
    Lorna:  We pride ourselves on fit.  So, first of all, we wanted to create show clothing that fit a woman's shape and body.  The four way stretch softshell fabric enables us to make a really streamlined silhouette.  Further, the show season is mostly in the summer months, when it is hot outside, so we added StayCool StayDry moisture wicking properties to the fabric. 
     
    We were also tired of people looking like bumble bees in their shadbellies so we created the Shadbelly Coat with silver vest tips and collar instead of canary.  Then, of course, we need to add the fashion element with the pretty swirl Goode Rider lining and regal looking crest silber buttons.
     
    Lastly, we wanted to have pretty show clothing that looks like custom made pieces, but didn't break your wallet, so our prices are very competitive.
     
    EC:  Love your new Fall '11 line!  It has a retro, almost menswear inspired look.  Can you tell us about it?
     
    Lorna and Kristin: Our theme was  "City sleek on the British country side." Urban meets classic sophistication.  It's got some wonderful new wool plaids and yarn dyes.  Cozy hand knit cashmere cardigans.  Bomber shearlings and cocoa brown denim and then some sleeker silhouette figure flattering down parkas and vests.
     
    EC: Can you tell us anything about what is coming?  Anything new and exciting for Spring 2012?
     
    Lorna and Kristin:  Our spring collection is called "Jackie O goes to the Jungle!" Trendy but sophisticated black, white, and silber with some daring and fun leopard prints and a splash of melon and aqua colors.  Trendy waterproof trench coats, some fun new technical hoodies.  Plus, we are showing white jeans - a very polo inspired look that is fresh and new
     
    EC:  Can't wait to see it!!   
                   
     
     
     
     
        


  • An Interview with Laurie Sharma

    This month we are thrilled to welcome Laurie Sharma, Head Designer and Co-Owner of JPC Equestrian, the largest manufacturer of equestrian apparel in the world.  JPC is known throughout the horse community for their brands such as Equine Couture, and TuffRider. 


    EQC: Everyone is certainly buzzing about the Equine Couture line of apparel that riders are wearing at Wellington, Florida.  Congratulations!  You have one of the freshest collections around.

    Laurie:  Goodness, thanks so much for the compliment.  It sure is a thrill to see how popular our brands have become in the last couple of years.  It wasn't too long ago when I would get so excited to see just a handful of people wearing our clothes! Now it seems that half the people showing here at Wellington are wearing them.  Love it!   

    EQC: When did you start the Equine Couture line? What was the idea behind it?

    Laurie:  I started Equine Couture eight years ago.  I had just moved to Florida with my two horses.  While shopping at a booth at the showgrounds, I fell in love with a Lily Pulitzer ribbon belt with palm trees.  I nearly collapsed when I read the $75 price tag!

    Looking back, it was the best $75 I ever spent.  A few weeks later I was looking at that belt and thinking how cute it would be to have ribbon trim around the border of a saddle pad.  Keep in mind, eight years ago, everything was plain, plain, plain, and extremely conservative.  When I could not find one to purchase, I decided to make one myself.

    Conveniently forgetting that I had basically flunked the portion of my home economics class where we had to sew potholders, I decided on a whim to go out and purchase an industrial sewing machine. It looked like something form grandma's attic, but the salesman assured me it was an oldie but a goodie.  I then went the local fabric store and bought some cute, pretty gross grain ribbon.

    Using all my existing saddle pads, I began sewing away!  After about a week, I perfected my stitch.  As I began riding on my saddle pads, fellow riders would stop me and ask where I got them.  Soon I was taking orders.  I then researched overseas suppliers to manufacture my own custom ribbons.  I started making matching pads, ribbon belts, show shirts, and polo wraps.

    In November of 2004, I set up a vendor booth at the National Horse Show here in Wellington.  I was pleasantly surprised by the people swarming my booth.  I was nearly sold out in a week.  The following January, I purchased a vendor space at my first wholesale trade show ...     

    EQC:  What differentiates the Equine Couture line from the popular TuffRider brand?

    Laurie:  TuffRider is our core brand and is known in the industry as one of the best quality breeches on the market for the best price.  TuffRider styles are more basic for the entry level and /or every day affordable use.  Equine Couture steps it ups a few notches, both price-wise and style-wise with more "bells and whistles" while still maintaining an affordable price for high end quality.  

    EQC:  When you are designing a new season, where do you get your inspiration?  What is the Spring 2012 collection all about?

    Laurie:  I have always looked at current trends in the high fashion market and tailor those designs for the equestrian market.  Especially when it comes to using our custom blends of technical fabrics - we are uniquely able to create these because we have our own factories.

    EQC:  Do you design with a certain rider in mind?  A certain age group? Or are you designing what you and your family would like to ride in?

    Laurie:  Honestly, I design what I and my family would like.  Timmy, my husband and business partner, is a polo player so I love designing cool, equestrian-type styles for him.  Our daughter, who is six years old, started showing last year.  This technique works well in enabling us to cover all genres and age-groups!

    EQC: What do you think your strengths as a designer are?

    Laurie: This has been a gift.  I honestly cannot take any credit.  I didn't go to school to study design or business; I was actually a pre-Vet major.  All I can say is that this has truly been a God given talent that I didn't even realize I possessed.  It wasn't until I thought of that one ribbon trim saddle pad idea that the rest just followed.  I do have a unique ability to see certain designs and colors in high fashion garments, displays, bill boards, buildings (really anything!) and incorporate it into equestrian clothing.   

    EQC: What are your growth plans?

    Laurie: We believe Equine Couture and TuffRider will not only retain their strong positions within the industry, but will further growth within the market's leadership position.  Our efforts will be to bring innovative designs and products at affordable prices to riders at all price points. We have been the largest manufacturer of riding breeches in the world for several years, and plan to extend this leadership position to other apparel areas such as shirts, outerwear and horse clothing.

    EQC:  What are some of the unique strengths of your business model?

    Laurie:  Our biggest asset is actually owning our factories.  We are able to bring the synergy and strength of a a vertically integrated business to our brand.  Our ability to make custom fabrics and to have a complete design and development facility in our factory in India allows us us to bring new and interesting products to market quickly.  We have a very effective sales team and we are able to market feedback on our products very quickly.  Our strength ha become the reduced cycle time between conception and introduction of new products for our customers.  Plus, we have little or no risk in having to deal with the typical oversees high minimum orders.

    EQC:  What you haven't mentioned as you discuss your factories, is your Salvation Tree Foundation.  I'm sure our customers would be interested in it!

    Laurie:  When Timmy bought my company in 2006,


  • An Interview with Kerri Sengstaken

    däv Boots!


    We are delighted to have the opportunity to speak with Kerri Sengstaken, co-founder of däv Weatherproof Luxury Boots.

    EC: däv footwear offers a real departure from traditional equestrian muck boots, combining fashion with wet weather gear.  Can you tell our shoppers how you came up with the concept?

    Kerri Sengstaken:  We decided to focus on the lifestyle of women who are horse and animal enthusiasts.  Our customers' day starts early in the morning at the barn, cleaning and feeding.  Then, she rushes to school or work and ends up back in the barn.   Sometimes in the middle of everything, she is at the store or out to lunch. däv boots effortlessly perform throughout the day during all of these tasks and look chic and fashion-forward.  They are amazingly comfortable, so you don't want to change your boots - just rinse them off after you muck and you are ready for a ride or trip to the mall.  This describes my typical day, so I AM the customer.  I get it!

    EC:  Folks in the horse industry are used to equestrian style being "borrowed" by the fashion industry fairly regularly.  Do you see the reverse happening?  Do you think equestrian styles are being influenced by the wider fashion industry?

    Kerri Sengstaken:  I see the starting to blur that separate fashion brands from equestrian/sports brands.  Manufacturers like däv are starting to focus on the overall lifestyle of their customers, understanding that they read Vogue, as well as their equine sport specific magazines.  They go to yoga class as well as dressage clinics.  We need apparel and accessories which work for our lifestyles, family time and work, so we are not changing outfits or footwear three times a day.

    EC: What about technology?  We're not asking for trade secrets, but can you tell us how you get those bright fabric prints on a 100% waterproof boot?!
     
    Kerri Sengstaken:  The fabric is printed and then stretched onto a "last", which is a leg form.  Then the clear waterproof later is applied.  We are constantly designing new prints in our studio in Oxnard, California.  All of our prints are designed by hand and are original.  We also love rich solid colors and metallic blends.

    EC: What about practicality?  We know you can clean stalls in däv boots, and then wash them off and wear them downtown, but can you really ride in däv English boots?

    Kerri Sengstaken: Yes! They are great for riding.  You can muck the stalls, give them a rinse, then jump in the saddle.  They are great for trail riding - never know when you have to lead your horse though some water or mud.

    EC: We love your sneakers (so cool!) and the Festival boots (perfect for wearing at a horse show when you've got to get your tall boots off!).  Can you tell us what you've got coming next Fall?

    Kerri Sengstaken: We are so excited about our Fall collection!  We have added some great embellishments such as ankle belts, more styles that fold neatly in your suitcase, and weatherproof styles which look like suede and leather.

    EC:  Now for the fun question, who's out there wearing däv?  Any good celebrity names to drop?  

    Kerri Sengstaken: Oh yes!  At the Grammy's Katy Perry chose the leopard English boot, and Miley Cyrus chose the black equestrian boot.  Ashley Benson, star of  Pretty Little Liars has been seen sporting around town in the däv Thatcher boot, and 90210 star Tiffany Hines wore the däv champagne English boot at the Sundance Film Festival.  Little Suri Cruise has been spotted many times in her little pink däv cowboy boots.

    Thank you Kerri!  Now all you equestrian fashionistas out there, check out the däv boot collection on Equestrian Collections!





      


  • Interview with Bob Bitzer

    Meet Bob Bitzer of Heritage Gloves

     

    Today, we have the pleasure of talking with Bob Bitzer of Heritage Gloves about the technology behind the Heritage equestrian glove line.

     

    EQC:  Bob, how did Heritage get into the equestrian glove market?

    Bob Bitzer: My wife and I have owned horses for more than 30 years. Our youngest daughter was about 12 years old and starting to compete in hunter/jumper events. We were spending a lot of money on show clothes and I started to look at the poor quality of show gloves that was available on the market. With our sport glove manufacturing background I knew we could do much better. So we decided to start Heritage Gloves. Originally it was just to cover the expenses of showing at events and training, but the company grew into so much more. I guess a lot of people out there felt the same way as I did about a limited select of quality gloves on the market. The timing was right for something new like us.

    EQC: What functionality did you consider when first sitting down at the drawing board, so to speak?

    Bob Bitzer: The quality of material and fit were the two key areas we focused on. We knew what was going to make Heritage different from the others was better quality and improved fit.

    EQC:  Why should riders consider buying a glove specifically designed for riding? Even down to the discipline they ride?

    Bob Bitzer: Riding gloves are designed to protect your hands and increase your grip on the reins so that you have better control of your horse. Our gloves are designed to be task specific for each type of discipline.

    EQC:  How do you choose which fabrics you make your Heritage gloves from?  Are you inspired by other sports? 

    Bob Bitzer: Due to our 30 years of experience in sport glove manufacturing we have an extensive knowledge of glove construction and materials. We have learned a lot over the years from building gloves for the bicycle, motorcycle, watersports, ski, snowboard, fishing, and other sports related industries. Each customer has specific requirements and we search out the best materials available. The reason we have been in business this long is proof of our reputation to making quality gloves.

    EQC:  In your quest to design the “Perfect” equestrian glove, what would its functionality requirements be?

     Bob Bitzer: The perfect equestrian glove needs to feel like you are not wearing a glove at all. It should be lightweight and durable. Fit and comfort are key and the right balance of grip and control.

    EQC:  There are hundreds of riding gloves on the market – what makes Heritage Gloves stand out from the crowd?

     Bob Bitzer: We are the relatively new glove company in the equestrian world, but after the last six years we have grown rapidly to being one of the top brands of riding gloves in the world. We have many top level riders in the US and internationally competing in our gloves. They give us a great platform for how our gloves are used and insight in how to continuously improved and evolve our gloves with new innovation. We are also very proud of the fact that Heritage Gloves has been the first and only Official Equestrian Glove of the United States Equestrian Federation. Their endorsement of our products from our very first year in business to present is a great testimonial of our company and gloves.

    Our goal is to have a riding glove for every level rider regardless of discipline or experience through our wide selection of gloves.

    EQC:  What exciting new fabric technology is coming down the pike that will make a difference to the rider – Comfort? Durability?, Looks?

    Bob Bitzer: All the synthetic leather materials we use were developed by our company specific for our gloves. SuperGrip, DeltaGrip and MicroTec were all pioneered by us. We continue to research, test and develop new fabrics for future styles of riding gloves.

    EQC:  More riders are concerned about sun damage.  Have you addressed this issue?

    Bob Bitzer: In the beginning when we introduced our gloves we addressed this issue, which is why we design our gloves to use the correct materials that are breathable, yet do not allow UV to pass through.

    EQC: Lots of requests for gloves that peel back a finger for texting and SmartPhone use. Got anything in the Heritage line?


  • An Interview with Timmy Sharma

    Timmy Sharma, owner of JPC Equestrian, the world’s largest manufacturer of equestrian apparel and equipment. The JPC Equestrian brands were some of the first that we put up on Equestrian Collections and TuffRider and Equine Couture are always two of our top-selling brands.

     

    EC: Timmy, horses seem to have always played a pivotal role in your life – can you tell us when you first started to ride? 

     Timmy Sharma: My brother and I started riding on Indian Army horses when I was 10 years old. We stopped riding a year later when my brother had a fall. Despite this interruption, I always held a deep love and fascination for horses and took up the opportunity to ride wherever we went on family vacations. I took up riding again when I lived in New York and have never looked back. This took me in the direction of polo when I moved to India in 1990. 

     EC: Does it seem strange to you that there are so few male riders in the US compared as a percentage, with other countries?

     Timmy Sharma: That is just the way it is. Riding is a way of life in some countries and the US is a little different. I have concluded that it is a cultural issue and varies by country. However, having said that, I am always surprised to see the high percentage of men riders in the higher levels of jumpers and hunters. 

     EC: You are an International Polo player – how does your highly active equestrian lifestyle help you in deciding what to bring to the US and European markets?

     Timmy Sharma: Polo keeps me close to horses and as it is a passport to travel the world. The sport is surprisingly small in number of players and there is a big culture of reciprocity among polo players. There is a lot of travel by polo countries between countries and this is a good way to keep abreast of developments the world-over. 

     Also there are usually other disciplines of riding found near polo centers. It is possible to see what is used by riders in most disciplines in other countries. 

     EC: What products does JPC Equestrian have for the male rider?

     Timmy Sharma: One of our best selling breeches is the men’s Patrol breech. This is a 4 pocket breech that we introduced over a decade back in a cavalry twill fabric and continues to be a great seller. We have one of the largest selection of men’s breeches in any brand and currently offer 10 breeches in different fabrics and styles. All the breeches are personally tested by me before they are introduced and this always helps to identify areas of improvement. 

     In addition, we have added polo jeans, tall boots, paddock boots and will soon introduce a show coat and competition shirt for men. 

     EC: Do you find that these products sell better through tack stores, mobile units or from Equestrian Internet sites?

    Timmy Sharma: Frankly it is hard to tell anymoe with the developing multi channel distribution channels. Our largest customer of men’s breeches has a catalog, internet and retail store presence. 

     EC: You are the only equestrian manufacturer that has complete vertical integration – from design, fabric manufacture, product manufacture and distribution. What does that mean to the American rider who buys your products?

     Timmy Sharma: This puts us in a position to offer products that are best value for money and to create an ever evolving range of products. We have the ability to bring to the market new products in small quantities and can scale up production in case of a great demand. We are not hesitant about offering new products. We are particularly excited about our ability to see trends and fashions in other sports and to be able to adapt them to equestrian requirements.

     Recently we were on a family skiing vacation to Park City, Utah where my wife Laurie found some really interesting fleece jackets. We are already exploring how to make this fabric in our factory in India and to try to introduce this new product at the August AETA trade show. 

     Also customers can expect to have our products available through our dealers at most times because of our stock levels and logistics support that we offer customers.  

     EC: Finally, you work closely with the Winter Circuit down in Florida. What trends did you see there this year that you will be picking up for the Fall and Spring 2013? I am particularly thinking about the Euro styled jackets that have been taking the West Coast by storm that has migrated from the Jumper Ring to the Hunter Ring.

     Timmy Sharma: We are blessed to be living in a purpose built town for equine enthusiasts. Wellington hosts the Winter Equestrian Festival (JPC Equestrian is the official apparel sponsor of this event) where over 4,000 horses compete over 3 months. We are in the backyard of the biggest horse show in the world and this location advantage gives us the opportunity to see the new and popular trends for the riders and horses. 

     Based on some of the new demands, we have created several new products. We will be introducing new breeches with a knee patch with a special grip and reinforced seat, a new bonded fabric show coat, new sporty moisture wicking competition shirts and waterproof breathable competition show coat that performs like a jacket.  

     We are constantly looking for high-end products that are used by world class riders and bring these to affordable levels for the everyday rider. There is no reason why benefits of new designs and tech


 
 

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