Dec 8, 2017
As even the most passionate horse-crazy kids grow up, life frequently takes them down career paths that don't include the animal that dominated so many of their childhood dreams. But Suzi Vlietstra's professional life couldn't have been crafted more meticulously if she'd created a blueprint in the very moment she laid eyes on her first pony, Brian -- a Christmas present from non-equestrian parents who recognized how deeply she connected with horses. That family love and involvement would go on to inspire the skills and creativity that led to Suzi's founding Hobby Horse Inc. -- the largest designer and manufacturer of western show attire in the world.
While Hobby Horse Inc. opened over 30 years ago, its true origins began in Suzi's mother's attic sewing studio, with her mom teaching Suzi to sew a wild assortment of costumes and accessories for a variety of Shetlands, Paints, hunters, and trail horses.
Join Elise and Suzi in this week’s episode to learn more about how Suzi took her business from concept to reality, her expert guidance on impressing judges in the show ring, and the role of horses in her life.
Topic of Discussion:
[2:24] What Hobby Horse Inc's growth has meant to Suzi Vlietstra.
[2:50] Suzi was born with the horse-loving gene.
[3:09] About Suzi’s first horse: Brian the pony.
[5:18] Elise shares some stories of her first pony, Barney.
[6:33] More about Brian, the neighborhood celebrity pony.
[7:37] Dotty the Appaloosa filly: Suzi’s first training project.
[8:15] Suzi’s early experiences and how they led to the genesis of Hobby Horse Inc.
[12:45] The love of horse equipment: every piece of tack becomes a beloved memento.
[15:15] Suzi’s talent for writing: Elise reads an excerpt from Suzi's blog.
[18:35] The Kentucky Horse Park and the rich history of horses.
[20:21] Suzi’s writings: from her informative "how to" posts, to what judges look for in the show ring, to her reminiscences about being a horse-crazy girl.
[23:53] Selling Hobby Horse to a new owner and how the company has evolved.
[27:37] The various points in time when Suzi recognized Hobby Horse's success.
[30:00] How Hobby Horse has grown — from concept to thriving business, and handing it off to the next generation.
[32:18] How Hobby Horse has married the strategic components of competition with the personal expression of individuals' fashion style.
[35:44] Partnering with their clients: Hobby Horse’s great website and catalog, and how they help support and educate customers.
[40:05] What Suzi think judges look for in the competitive arenda.
[43:44] The importance of dressing well to compete and the differences between English and Western fashion styles.
[48:04] Suzi’s funny story of how she answers others' questions about what she does for a living.
[49:50] The importance of looking your best during a competition.
[50:37] Where to learn more about Hobby Horse and how to find Suzi online.
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Discover More About this Week’s Guests — Suzi Vlietstra
Website: Hobby Horse Incorporated
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