In the spirit of community over competition, I'm excited to announce a new series at Dapplebay! Each month, I will be featuring another woman owned equestrian small business that I love. This month we get to meet Julia, the mastermind behind Clovis Equestrian!
Who is Clovis Equestrian?
Clovis is a curated collection of equestrian-inspired clothes intended to be a place where elegant tradition meets modern functionality, designed to take you from the barn, to the street, and everywhere in between.
Why did you start the business?
I am fairly new to riding (I started just under two years ago), and when I got there I was inherently confused - why did clothes that literally worn to become dirty come at a. inaccessible price points, and b. why weren't they chic?! It seemed blatantly obvious to me as a newcomer to this sport that there was a gap in affordable luxury and style - there was no sleekness of Hermes or Burberry meant for the equestrian like me who wanted to be fashionable in the saddle. Oh. and everything was pink LOL. While I may not have been an equestrian my whole life, I will proudly (and boldly) say I have always been a "fashionista". I've spent my whole life remembering events from what I wore, playing dress up, and scouring the earth for the *perfect* item to complete an outfit. I have both personally and professionally been a stylist - I ran my own personal shopping company and worked at several high-end retailers dressing people, as well as lending countless hours to my friends and family, advising them what to wear. On a whim, it became apparent to me that this knowledge, though not previously used in the realm of horses, was completely transferrable. And that maybe - just maybe - if the humans in my real life trusted me to dress them, that the horse world would, too. I'd say so far it's working out!
What is your favorite thing about owning the business?
Designing. It truly is incredible to have a vision pop into your head and then making it come to life. Unlike other brands, Clovis is entirely designed end to end (with the exception of t-shirts), by me. Meaning I draw the designs, choose the fabric, assist in measurements, make tweaks and changes, and then go to production. Many companies used previously sourced designs but end-to-end, Clovis designs are my own. It is one of my greatest accomplishments to say I am a fashion designer - two words I had always hoped but I never thought would become part of my personal resume.
Also, I would be remiss to say that the customers - the people who keep the metaphorical and literal lights on - weren't just, in a world, incredible. I have gotten to meet and know so many people from this experience. I truly know most of my customers as friends. Some I consider family. There aren't always enough hours in the day to be able to interact as much as I would, but it really is a beautiful thing that my decision to make clothes has brought us all together. Even us!
What has been the biggest challenge of owning the business?
Oh boy. I'm not sure there I could choose just one, but you know what - I live for the challenge. I'm an inherent believer in nothing being able to replace the feeling of hard work, and if it were easy I'm not sure it would be worth it. As a small business owner there are more tough days than you'd like to count, but when you have those good days...I mean, those really GREAT days, the ones where someone just LOVES their new items, or you get a long email thanking you for personalized customer service, or a 5 star review online... it makes it all worth it. It really does. I remember the happy tears I've cried over emails and thank you cards more profoundly than a day when a shipment was delayed or fabric was stained.
There's also a part of me that wants to make mention that it's gut-wrenching when you're the unfortunate victim of someone knocking off your hard work, but I've truly come to believe that when you're so focused on your success and your own development as a company, as a designer, as a human...those things don't matter. They hurt, sure. It never gets easier to see someone take what you dreamed up, but it's motivation to find your next thing. And your next. And your next. If you're always focused on your own growth you won't have time for those things. Success is not a one-off, and it shouldn't be. It should be a cycle of constant evolution, development, humility, and education. As humans, our natural talent can only take us so far before we plateau and need to reevaluate our plan of action, (and the same goes for riding horses!). If we are constantly working, adapting, and educating ourselves we can move with this curve instead of getting crushed by it.
What is some advice you would give to entrepreneurs?
Running a business is hard work. That's it. That's the punchline LOL. But to be perfectly honest: it IS. And guess what? You should keep going anyway. It will be hard and continue to be hard. But you should STILL keep going. If you believe in what you do and what you have to offer, never let a no stop you. And don't be afraid to say "no" yourself. The ability and confidence to say "no" to people is one of the strongest tools you have as a human. As a small business owner this is such a tough concept sometimes, but it's necessary. You need to look out for yourself and your business and your ideas, and sometimes there is extra pressure to conform or say yes or break your back, but staying true to yourself and your vision is far more important.
Tell us about some fun things customers can expect to see in 2021.
New gloves! And shirt designs! And breeches! And SO MUCH MORE! The second half of 2021 is going to be a big one for Clovis and I am SUPER excited for it! There will be huge nods to sustainability, even more inclusivity, and items that fall more into the crossover category - ones that can be worn anywhere, not just the barn. New cuts, new colors, new EVERYTHING. Oh. And collabs. Collabs with some of my favorite other female-owned equestrian businesses and beyond. Jeez, I've said too much! A lot, folks. A LOT.
Julia has kindly created a discount code for DB fans - get 15% off with the code WELOVEDAPPLEBAY when you shop at ClovisEquestrian.com! Good luck choosing what you are going to purchase from her amazing collection...I'm convinced I need one of everything!