The pages of Horse & Style Magazine came to life during the summer of 2014 with the H&S Pop Up Shop. The idea was to bring the independent, unique brands that we often feature in our print magazine, together in a Pop Up Shop at a few, select California horse shows.

My goal was to feature and support new, up and coming equestrian brands that face the challenge of growing and getting the wide exposure that they so need. The Pop Up Shop became their stepping stone to new customers, increased demand and wider exposure for all! What was meant to be a three-week stretch of horse shows turned into six  weeks (plus a one-day pop up at a polo match) due to immediate and popular demand. From the Sonoma Horse Park to the Longines Los Angeles Masters, the H&S Pop Up Shop exceeded even our own expectations!

What did we learn during a summer of Pop-Up? Read on:

1) Sweat, Dirt and Tears
From stocking to planning, curating to designing the décor, it’s no secret that running a shot is hard work! We set-up, un-packed, steamed, merchandised, organized, dusted, dusted and dusted! We were supported by our horse show friends, and dealt with skeptic criticism from other vendors. We shouldered the compliments, the hard physical labor and sneers alike. At the end of the day I was proud of the exposure we were able to give the brands that participated.

2) Global Exposure
With in the first week of the Pop-Up Shop we had social media followers from around the world with requests to purchase items they saw us post. Tack stores and websites asked about stocking the Pop-Up Shop brands. In addition to selling direct to our horse show customers, we shipped candles, tees and other goodies to fashionisats all across the country and even to Europe.

3) Kind of a Big Deal
A group of ‘tween pony riders literally shrieked with excitement when they spotted the wide range of colorful breeches by Annie’s Equestrienne Apparel. I loved introducing new, adventurous brands to new fans. It was so fun spotting bows and belts by Kathryn Lily around the California horse shows where we popped up, and seeing Eleanor Walton Scarves, previously only available in the UK, around the necks of horse show moms. I must have single handedly styled Tara Kiwi tees on half of the women at each show. And of course, everyone went gaga over the adorable toddler hunt coats by Dyer Equestrian.

4) They Like Us, They Really Like Us!
I worried whether or not buyers would like what we were selling. I may be a lifelong horse show shopping enthusiast and even have a masters degree in fashion merchandising, but the unknown still created some uncertainties. Fortunately those worries were unfounded! Before we could even get set-up on our first day, enthusiastic customers were breaking down the (tent) door to see what we had. A few shoppers even helped me un-pack merchandise, just to see the new products that we had received overnight. It was very gratifying to meet people who didn’t just like, but LOVED all the merchandise.

5) Buy Chic, Buy Local
The most important lesson learned during the first year of the Horse & Style Pop-Up Shop is how important it is to support our fellow equestrians in their entrepreneurial adventures! A big thank you to Tara Kiwi, Kathryn Lily Equestrian, Dyer Equestrian, Annie’s Equestrienne, Deco Pony, Oughton Limited, Natasha Grasso Jewelry, Spiced Equestrian, O’Shaugnessey Apparel, Stable & Sea, Eleanor Walton Scarves, Felix Doolittle, Charleigh’s Cookies, Mini Britches and Equuleus Designs for being a part of the inaugural Horse & Style Pop-Up Shop. I personally encourage everyone to check out these fantastic brands – their businesses were founded on a love of horses, and that’s what it’s all about!