Thursday, January 21, 2010

New Designs

One of the reasons for starting Five Star Tack was to develop a recognizable brand of bridles. So often the bridles look like copies of each other with each having an identical stitch pattern. When you go to your local tack shop there are sometimes rows of bridles with not much of a way to tell the difference between one brand or another except for the price tag. So my goal was and is to have a bridle that buyers will recognize for it's distinctive look, top quality and a company that actively supports equestrian sport and charity.

Quality is always in the back of my mind and I've lost a lot of sleep over it in the last year! There have been many times when I have felt like the new unknown fashion designer putting together their first line. You have to make a great impression on a demanding and knowledgeable audience and there is no way of knowing whether your designs will receive a "thumbs up" until you present them. You can do all your design sketches and then see the finished product and realize you have to start all over again or the person making your designs doesn't do the right job. You have to constantly make adjustments based on what your goals are while keeping an eye on what the market is doing.

While it used to be that the majority of bridles were made in England, the high cost of labor and top quality hides has brought about change. In bridle design the trend is moving towards brands being made in developing countries by large manufacturers assembling bridles for different companies. Much of the work is done by computerized machines with the labor mostly unskilled. They are merely following orders and have no knowledge of horses. The leather may be from England or the leather comes from another country and is tanned using "english methods". What this does is it makes it possible to produce tack at a lower cost but as is often the case, the quality is not the same. Maybe this doesn't matter to you and the most important criteria for you in buying a bridle is price but for me it does matter.

If you are going to differentiate yourself from the competition then you can't be like the competition. In light of this Five Star has switched to a new production company. Located in Dorset, England it is a small shop who makes bridles the "old fashion" way; by hand. They are also a shop who has received awards for their bridle work from the UK's Society of Master Saddlers of which they are a member. We have switched all the buckles from regular stainless steel to Sprenger german silver and will continue to use Sedgwick's best leather. It has taken longer to rework some of the styles than I anticipated but sometimes it can be tricky to integrate functionality and style. You have to be patient and think long term which is sometimes difficult. I am hopeful that these designs will be even more successful than our current ones and I look forward to your feedback!

If you have any comments on the tack market or questions please post them here!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Welcome to Five Star Tack!

So how do you begin your first blog post? That's a very good question as I've never had a blog and I wasn't the kid who chronicled her life in the pages of her diary but boy I've got some great stories in my head! While the main thrust of this blog is to update followers on what Five Star Tack is doing I also welcome those of you that follow us to post as well.

Five Star Tack is not just about selling tack. Obviously that's why I started the company but it encompasses a lot more. It's about the trials and tribulations of starting and running a new business along with having a family. It's about connecting with other riders whether it's working with our customers or the several riders the company sponsors. It's also about giving back. My late father was a big believer in helping those less fortunate than himself. He grew up a poor kid during the depression, went to college on the GI bill and through hard work became President of three shipping companies. He never forgot his roots and to that end donated to charities that helped the poor and those who did not have the good fortune he had. He took great pride in having a good year at work because it enabled him to give more. Well the apple did not fall far from the tree and he blessed me with that trait.

We are a small company and still in our first year, but one with a big heart. Five Star sponsors several up and coming eventing and jumper riders. I will be featuring each one in upcoming blog posts. Five Star is also a product sponsor at major horse shows and three day events. We will also post "live" from some of these competitions! Through our bridles with benefits program Five Star donates twenty percent of it's profits to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Lance Armstrong Foundation, Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation and The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation. I will post more about these charities and bridles with benefits in a future post.

As both a tack manufacturer and retailer I have had the opportunity to learn what goes into making tack and the different manufacturing methods that go into making bridles. I will post about this also as there is so much more to purchasing tack than just what is on the price tag!

If you've made it this far down the page then thank you for sticking with me! Feel free to post your comments and questions about Five Star Tack or anything related to horses and riding. I promise I will do my best to keep my posts interesting and relevant!