In the spirit of community over competition, I'm excited to continue the Brand Feature Series. Each month, I feature another woman owned equestrian small business that I love. This month we get to know Cali, the creator of Standard Issue Equestrian!
Tell us about your business.
Standard Issue Equestrian focuses on creating show legal dressage saddle pads while also offering jump pads with no visible logos. We focus on quality products while keeping practicality in mind. Standard Issue Equestrian was founded by an Adult Amateur who lives and breathes everything Equine. This mindset has really elevated our products since everything to the smallest details have been thought out.
Why did you start the business?
To start off, I am an Ammy that competes in Dressage. I had a couple of friends who were also Adult Amateurs who were eliminated at a local show because they had visible badges on their show pads, which is not legal. Of course, both friends were disheartened not only because both had posted a personal best, but because this was a very expensive (yet easy) mistake they had made.
I was browsing for saddle pads that were legal and had no visible logos or badges for myself as I did not want to be in the same boat. To my suprise, the only options out there were plain and not very fun. Thus, Standard Issue Equestrian was made. I focus on creating dressage legal options as well as jump cuts that have no visible branding while maintaining fantastic quality with fun details.
What is your favorite thing about owning the business?
Hands down it's interacting with my customer base. I love hearing people's pain points with what is currently out in the market and creating options that fix those issues. I think being open to suggestions and making things that my fellow AA's and Pro's both need is what keeps me growing as a company.
Another favorite is I do keep a set of every release for myself so my horse Dio has an ever revolving wardrobe. I also love that I get to stress test my own products as Dio is ridden 4 days a week. Also, I personally get to be a bit risky and use some of my more loud (yet still fall into "conservative colors") saddle pads in competitions. It makes me happy to click through the show albums and see my horse stand out.
What has been the biggest challenge of owning the business?
There are a lot of back end things that go into starting a business that I'm extremely bad at. Examples would be doing the financials or sending in sales tax payments. It's the little things that you don't realize end up eating up your time. I'm a way more creative brained person who loves designing and coming up with amazing color combos. Getting my brain into "serious" mode is very hard for me.
I also have a day job that helps me fund Standard Issue Equestrian. Being self funded has been a blessing in terms of open creativity but unfortunately has some downsides since I cannot grow and scale as quickly as I should.
What is some advice you would give to entrepreneurs?
Do a lot of research and set your business up right from the start. There are a lot of little things that are a drag, but you'll honestly be in the dog house if you don't set them up from the get go. One big example is the financials. I had no idea what I was going with my books when I started and it took me and my partner hundreds of hours to correct them when I was a few months in. If we were to have hired a professional to fix them, it would've cost the business over $10,000(!!!).
Don't be afraid to ask other entrepreneurs for advice. We all love talking about our businesses and we love to save others from our own mistakes. I've made lifelong friendships from asking others for help. Figure out where your strengths and weaknesses lie and don't be afraid to reach out to friends that can help with your weaknesses.
Tell us about some fun things customers can expect to see in 2022.
I truly do take suggestions from anyone and everyone. I made some major changes to my product line up based off of a few messages I got through my social media channels. The main thing that has been majorly upgraded is the breathability of our boots. I, as well as many others, have really taken note of different studies on how heat affects horse's tendons. Your horse's comfort and long term soundness is very close to my heart. Our boots now feature an ultra breathable mesh with no neoprene or fleece at all. I also love offering some creative colors that no other companies are coming out with. I would expect some fun colors with some unique trims coming over the next year.
And...most importantly...we have just launched our collaboration: the Sticker Overload Collection! You won't want to miss this limited edition set featuring the DB Sticker Overload design! Get 10% off your order with the code SIEXDB