By Intern Mackenzie Shuman
Vendors are at horse shows all year long selling equestrians top-notch clothing, accessories, and other horse goodies to go along. This past weekend at HITS Thermal in California, we were able to catch up with one of our favorite vendors, Cindy Lay from Exceptional Equestrian.
TPH: What shows are you at year round?
CL: I’ll be at all of the Colorado shows, some of the Texas shows, and after Thermal I will go to Blenheim for a couple of weeks.
TPH: What kind of brands do you carry and which are your favorite?
CL: My favorite is Equiline, I love how classic the brand is. The GhoDho breeches also always sell very well here and Sarm Hippique is really a strong brand for me as always. My focus is finding things that you can wear in the arena but you can also wear in the office, so it’s got to fit both when I buy for my store.
TPH: Whats the story behind your business?
CL: I worked for Enterprise Rent-A-Car for sixteen years and when I left there I didn’t know what I wanted to do. So I started making little bridle charms and halter charms and then go to horse shows and compete, and also sell my products on the side. People then started asking me, “Can you do an earring out of this bead or a necklace with this?” and I started making other jewelery pieces. Soon it exploded into this jewelry line. Then I brought in handbags and belts to complement my jewelry went away from just making jewelry and started buying other products to sell. Now I get to go to Europe once a year to shop for the stores and sell products at the horse shows.
TPH: Are you looking to expand at all?
CL: Yes, I will have a second mobile unit someday, which is actually being built right now. Tye Hinckley-Patrick will be the guy in the other trailer, covering Seattle, Oregon, and Southern California and wherever else he can go.
TPH: What would you say is your favorite show you go to?
CL: I especially love Thermal, but Colorado is great and Texas is great because the people there are amazing. Everywhere I go I feel like I am at home really, and I’ve gotten used to going horse show to horse show, so I don’t really feel out of place anywhere.
TPH: How do you set your business apart from the other vendors?
CL: The brands that I carry and my customer service. I love people and I love when they come to my store, and I don’t really push on sales because if they want it they want it. Lots of people have told me, “Gosh you’re amazing because you’ll dig through tubs to find something, whereas other people will just point out where things are without any real direction.” I really want to make sure my customers feel like they are welcome.
TPH: What do you enjoy most about being a vendor at horse shows?
CL: My favorite thing is to see people walking around the horse show with my pink bags as long as just wearing my stuff all around. It’s thrilling to see that people like what I like as well. I also love going to new places and I’m one of those strange people who loves change.
TPH: Where do you see equestrian fashion going in a few years?
CL: That’s a good question, I haven’t found the next new ‘it,’ and that is what I am searching for. I am hoping that the next new thing is close on the horizon, but I think the equestrian fashion overall will just keep getting more technologically based, more breathable, lighter, and better for both the rider and horse.
Cindy Lay is also partnered with her boyfriends’ stall sign company and you can find them on Facebook under their name HIZ Custom Signs. Cindy can be found at her website www.exceptionalequestrian.com as well as on her app exceptionalequestrian