Monica Ward, originally from Calgary, Alberta (Canada), is the owner and operator of Equ Lifestyle Boutique, a retail tack store focusing on high-end brands. Her customers include hunter, jumper and dressage riders. Her company is 6 years old, but she’s spent 14 years in the tack business.
We caught up with her at HITS Thermal to learn more about her business.
TPH: What horse shows year round can you be found?
MW: All of HITS Thermal, all of Blenheim, all of the Del Mar shows, all of the West Palm shows, some specialty shows, Menlo, Flintridge, Sunshine Series, fall Del Mar shows, Mexico—I have four Mexican business partners, all riders, and they all run horse shows down there as well. When I am finished with my shows for the year, I set up at Albert Court in Rancho Santa Fe where dressage stars Guenter Seidel and Christine Traurig are based.
TPH: What are some of the brands you carry?
MW: Cavalleria Toscana, Alessandro Albanese by Horseware, Parlanti, Kingsland, Pikeur, GPA, Grand Prix, Ogilvy, Olikai, Maui Jim, Samshield, Charles Owen, Fleeceworks, EquiFit, and more.
TPH: If you had to pick a few items from the brands you’re currently carrying, what are your favorites?
MW: Cavalleria Toscana Technical Bib shirt, in short sleeves and long; the Struck Apparel breeches I just got them. I love the waistband and the fabric. I’ve worn them a lot and I haven’t seen any color fades. And Parlanti boots. I wear the Ocalas and love them. GPA made me a helmet, and I am the only one right now in North America to have it.
TPH: Are you a rider?
MW: I rode for many years. I got to work for John French; I got to work for Dale Harvey. I had my own farm and my own business, and at the end of my showing career, I was a professional amateur and I did the grand prix classes and high junior/amateur-owner classes.
TPH: How do you pick the items that you sell in Equ Lifestyle Boutique? What is important when choosing?
MW: The quality of the product. The price never scares me if it’s exceptional. I love putting together stories; even if I’m doing it with different brands, I like stories to come together as one. I want them all to mix and match.
TPH: How did you get started in the business?
MW: My family ran into some hard times, and I fell into it honestly. It’s not what I went to school for. But it’s turned out to be great. I’m really passionate about it and I love to do it.
TPH: What is unique about your tack shop?
MW: I really focus on customer service. When you come into my store, I want you to have an experience. I want it to be fun. Because I think that we invest so much in this sport that I need to have invested my time and effort into knowing what I’m doing for you, and to be great at it. Also, although I sell a lot of very high-end items, I’m not exclusively high end. I do have some quality, less expensive items as well. Laura Rompfh, for example. I do a lot of work with her, and I think she’s a wonderful designer. I don’t ever want anyone to feel like they can’t come in and buy something.
TPH: What is the most fun part about your job?
MW: The people. My customers are the best customers in the whole entire world.
TPH: Where do you see the fashion trends going in the future?
MW: It’s all about the material. I really focus on keeping the tradition of the sport while allowing the innovation of the material to come into it. You don’t see a lot of color when you come into my store, so that’s where the tradition sticks, but I think that I do need to be fashion forward. We are athletes and so are our horses, so we need to be sure to constantly learn the newest trends and products out there.