Small Business Spotlight + GIVEAWAY: Two Socks Designs

Man, it’s been a while since I did a Small Business Spotlight. Why I haven’t done this particular company before, I have no idea, because I’ve been getting stuff from them since 2014. For shame. But I’m here to correct my oversight now, and just in time for the madness that is the holiday season!

Two Socks Designs Logo

Two Socks Designs is a semi-local company to me that basically does just about anything and everything custom and/or cute. Shirts, saddle pads, hats, patches, any kind of embroidery, banners, decals… you name it, they do it. I first came across them at a small horse show, where I bought my ever popular (and still 100% accurate) “World’s Okayest Rider” shirt.

Image result for "world's okayest rider"

The following year, Two Socks did the awesome custom unicorn design (which they came up with!) on our team saddle pads for AEC’s, coordinating the unicorns to our individual colors. This year Two Socks made all the banners and polo shirts for the Willow Tree sBs inspection. Everything I’ve ever seen that has come from them has been fabulous, and very well done.



So, without further ado, let’s get to know a little bit more about Two Socks, in their own words!

When did you start Two Socks Designs and where did the idea for the business come from?

I come from a family of entrepreneurs, so I knew for a long time that I always wanted to have my own business as I was pretty miserable in the corporate world working for other people.  By chance, back in 2011, I happened to wash my half chaps (who washes half chaps?!) with all of my saddle pads, which naturally turned them all blue.  I ordered new ones, took them to a chain embroidery place to be monogrammed, and was shocked that they charged me like 25 bucks to embroider a name.  There were so few font options and colors to choose from and was all just so…boring.  And just not “me”.  It was right then that I decided that the world needed fun saddle pads and I was going to make that happen.  I had no idea how to sew, or what an embroidery machine even looked like, but before I knew it, Two Socks Designs came to be.


How many employees do you have?

Up until earlier this year, it has been only me, with my husband making the occasional trip to the Post Office.  Artwork creation, social media, email correspondence, order fulfillment, shipping/receiving, accounting and maintenance are some of the many jobs you learn to balance as a small, one-person business owner.  I am fortunate in that my business has steadily grown over the years, so when my mom retired earlier this year, my parents made the decision to relocate from Oklahoma to San Antonio, TX, and now my mom helps me with getting orders cleaned up and ready to ship.  She is still very leery of running the machines, though.

What is your background in horses?

I started riding hunter/jumpers back in Oklahoma in the late 90s, and like the rest of us crazy equestrians, it’s been pretty much where all of my money goes ever since!  I just began leasing Metro, a giant 18.1 hh TB, that I plan on competing in TIP/Take 2 classes next year, and I also have my long-time partner, Casino (for whom Two Socks Designs is named) that is being leased out to a lovely dressage rider.  Most of your readers know Michelle from Willow Tree Warmbloods by now; I also have one of Michelle’s 2015 babies, Jag “Carrera R”, that will be started under saddle next year.  He has two adopted pony friends, Spradley and Turbo, that keep him company.  Wow, that sounds like a whole lot of horses when I put it on paper…Have I mentioned that my husband is a really nice and understanding person?

my newest and most favorite sticker

Any interesting notes on your business or products that you would like people to know?

Although Two Socks Designs is best known for embroidery, I also offer screen printing and vinyl decal and banner printing.  I don’t have any minimum order requirements on embroidery or printing, so if you just need one of something, I can help.

Also, If you are looking for a cool and unique equestrian-themed gift this year, please take a look at the Two Socks Etsy Shop,  More items will be added to the shop in the very near future and everything in the shop can be customized.

Finally, to see more of what I do, please visit my website,, or check Two Socks out on social media, or on Instagram, @twosocksdesigns.

P.S. – A huge thanks to Amanda for the chance to tell her blog readers about what I love to do.   Reading your blog is always an enjoyable part of my day and I’m always waiting to hear what will happen next in the Henny and Presto sagas!

Now to the extra fun part – the giveaway! Like the above saddle pad? You could win it!

There are 3 different ways to enter, feel free to just choose one or stack the odds in your favor and do all 3.

1) like Two Socks Designs on facebook

2) follow Two Socks Designs on Instagram

3) leave a blog post comment here and tell us what your favorite Two Socks Designs product is (I highly recommend perusing the Etsy store on the gallery on their website!).


The giveaway will stay open for one week, then I’ll announce the winner on 11/6. And if you want to place Christmas orders from Two Socks (which I highly recommend, their stuff makes for fantastic gifts), now is the time to start thinking about it! They can make just about any idea come to life, but they do get quite busy in the holiday season so it’s best to order early.

Small Business Spotlight: Boy-O-Boy Bridleworks

Some of you might remember the awesome pile of swag Henry and I won at the High Point derby a couple weeks ago. It was a pretty incredible assortment of stuff, but my favorite thing was the embroidered Boy-O-Boy Bridleworks ribbon belt.


I hadn’t really noticed Boy-O-Boy before… I’d seen their name but never taken a very close look at their products. Once I had the belt in my hands and could see it up close, I was so impressed by the quality and construction of the belt that I had to find out more. The pattern was perfectly done, the stitching was impeccable, the leather was thick and sturdy–obviously of excellent quality–and even the hardware was top notch. Details like that are what separate a good product from a great one, and Boy-O-Boy really had my attention with their five-star execution.



I scoured their Etsy store, Instagram, and facebook page before messaging them to ask if they’d be interested in contributing to a Small Business Spotlight feature. The more I looked, the more impressed I was. There are a lot of pretty things in the world, but not all of them are high quality and made to last. Boy-O-Boy’s products definitely are. I haven’t seen anything quite like their line (and certainly not of this quality) anywhere else on the market.


Besides their custom ribbon belts, Boy-O-Boy also offers dog collars, leashes, browbands, keychains and will soon be offering neck straps. All of their products are available in satin or grosgrain ribbons in a huge variety of different colors. They can also have just about anything embroidered on your item, if you have a logo or want your intials, a name, etc. Boy-O-Boy’s items make great horse show prizes (obviously) or would look great in your barn colors. For those of you who don’t necessarily need something in custom colors, they also offer some lower-priced, pre-made options in their Etsy store.

Besides offering a huge array of colors and materials, all of the Boy-O-Boy products are also available in a variety of different patterns.

The owner of Boy-O-Boy, Amanda, was really great to talk to. She quickly found the key to my heart when she spoke of the importance of good construction and high quality materials. Here’s more about her company and her work, in her own words:

When did you start Boy-O-Boy Bridleworks?

I formed the company in the fall of 2014, but I’d been making the ribbon browbands and belts for a few years before that. 

How many employees do you have?

Just me! Sometimes my kids help with tagging and packaging, etc., but I’m the designer, maker, product tester (along with my friends, horses, dogs, and some professional riders I sponsor), etc. As I’ve gotten busier, I’ve started outsourcing some aspects of the business that are better left to the professionals, like graphic design, copywriting and web design. It’s been really helpful in freeing up a lot more of my time for making belts, browbands and collars, and for developing and testing some new things.

Where did the idea for the business come from?

I grew up In New York City, but I was one of those little girls who LOVES ponies (who grew into one of those women who LOVES horses).  My parents let me take riding lessons, and I never stopped. 

Not too long after I graduated from college, my dad died and my mom decided to take on a diplomatic posting in Dublin, Ireland.  Whenever I was there visiting, I spent as much time as I could around horses, hunting, galloping polo ponies and riding friends’ horses.  I loved the colorful ribbon browbands that I saw on Irish horses and ponies at shows, events, and stable yards, but I couldn’t figure out where to get them. At least, none of the tack shops I went to ever seemed to sell them.  It turns out that kids the learn to make them in Pony Club. So, back in the States (now in the Virginia Hunt Country), I learned how too, and started making them for my own jumpers.

Seeing them on my horses at shows, people often told me, “I’ve always loved those ribbon browbands! Where did you get them?” So, I started making them for other people’s horses. One Christmas I made matching belts for friends and over the next few months, I started getting requests from their friends. Eventually stores started calling too. 

In the meantime, I learned that I have Lyme disease.  I was showing at Upperville one year and suddenly felt, to use Homer Simpson’s term, absolutely craptacular. I had terrible joint pain and flulike symptoms (even my teeth hurt!), and it seemed to be getting worse every day. Eventually I collapsed, lost consciousness and spent the night in the hospital. It took a while to diagnose, but I finally started treatment.  I’m a writer and historian by training and was starting to have trouble working because I was having trouble remembering words. So, I took a break and while I was recuperating and went to England to study bridle making with a master saddler.   It didn’t bother my joints (much); most of the time you’re sitting down.  

When people first asked me to make browbands for them, I just bought some on the Internet and wove the ribbons around them.  Old fashioned, flat hunting browbands are surprisingly hard to come by and when I did find them, the quality wasn’t great.  A lot of them had cracks on the loops, for example, or the stitching wasn’t very secure. I’m someone who’s always making stuff — crocheting, sewing, needlepointing — and I’d always wanted to learn how to make and repair tack.  Funnily enough, Lyme gave me the opportunity. 

It also gave me the opportunity to learn about the elements of really good quality tack. We love our horses, but let’s face it, every time you get on a horse (heck, every time you go near one) you’re taking your life into your own hands. Things can go wrong very quickly, even for the best horsemen and the quietest horses.  The history of saddlery is in some sense a history of risk management and minimization. As a rider, I knew (or thought I knew) what made my tack durable, beautiful, correct, etc.  Learning to make bridles, I came to see it from the other side — what parts of the hide are best used for different items and why (for stirrup leathers or reins, rather than nose bands, say), what makes a hide a good one (or not), stitching that’s appropriate for different applications, what hardware to use and why, which tanneries produce the best leather.  It’s given me a real admiration for well made, good quality tack made of top-quality materials — as well as for for the people who make it  and for the knowledge and experience they’ve accumulated over the centuries. 

I make my own tack (along with my belts, dog collars, etc.) in the same spirit.  No one’s likely to die if I sell them a crappy belt, but I use the same high-quality materials and the same techniques for all the items I make.  It’s a safety issue where the tack is concerned — and it’s an effort to honor the traditions of craftsmanship and horsemanship with everything I make. In my experience of tack and riding equipment and clothes, etc., I’ve found that, for better or worse, you get what you pay for.

What is your background in horses?

I have a vague memory of seeing showjumping on TV when I was really small.  It flipped some sort of switch in me.  I knew what I wanted to do more than anything else in the world! My parents were very kind (and generous).  They indulged me first with some wonderful ponies that I showed, hunted and evented, and then with a very elegant — and psycho — OTTB, who was my junior hunter.  Eventually Lexington Green and I figured each other out, won a bit, and qualified for Devon and indoors.  Looking back, though, sometimes I marvel at the fact that I made it to adulthood in one piece.

When My mom lived in Ireland, I bought a great Clover Hill mare, In Clover, and started riding in the jumper divisions.  Nowadays, I have a wonderful, athletic, scopey, forgiving  Amateur-Owner Jumper, called Dealbreaker or “Zack.”   Before Zack, I had my little gelding Boy-O-Boy. Whenever I think of Boy-O-Boy, I think of that old horseman’s saying, “Every rider gets one great horse.” If that’s the case, then, smart, catlike “Bob” was my great horse. He’s is semi-retired now, but he’s still as ferocious a competitor with my daughter in the short-stirrup ring at the age of twenty as he was for me as a jumper at the age of six – or sixteen.  We’ll retire him for good in the next year or two. For now, light work keeps him fit, sound and spry. Like I say, we trust our lives to our horse every time we go for a ride.  When that horse takes good care of us (and our children after us), I feel an obligation to take good care of him for the rest of his life.

Each of the main Boy-O-Boy Bridleworks weave patterns (like a lot ofhe color combinations) is named for the first horse to wear it. Boy-O-Boy was the first horse I made a ribbon browband for; because he started it all, I named the company after him.

Any interesting notes about yourself, your business or your products that you would like for people to know?

I have a couple of things in the hopper.  I just started making neck straps that can be made up in people’s cross-country colors.  I’m working on a bridle and a breastplate with the woven ribbons.  For a while I’ve been working on bracelets with the woven ribbon patterns, but I haven’t settled on a closure I like yet.   I’d also like to do bags at some point.


I can honestly give two very enthusiastic thumbs to Boy-O-Boy Bridleworks; this is definitely a small business worthy of support. As soon as I can figure out which pattern I like best (the indecision is crippling) I’ll be ordering another belt in my XC colors. Because what’s more important than matching? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.


Small Business Spotlight: Art by Candice

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Small Business Spotlight post, but since I’ve been on a bit of a “holiday gift ideas” roll this week, now seems like a great time to post about Art by Candice. Some of you have probably seen this picture here on the blog, on my Instagram, or on my facebook page.


That painting should look familiar to you for other reasons as well, because it’s from one of my favorite photos ever – me and the Belgian Warmblood stallion Valentino Z. My friend Michelle had the painting made for me by Candice Smith as a Christmas present last year, and I absolutely adore it.


Candice Smith is the artist behind “Art by Candice” and is based out of Midland, TX. She offers a few different types of work and can create something to suit any style, from Realistic

to her very popular Posterized

to the more “funky” Geometric.

She also isn’t limited to just horses; Candice does dogs and people as well.

The best part? Prices start at a very reasonable $55. Options, pricing details, more examples, and an explanation of her 3 different styles of work can be found on her website. Art by Candice also has a facebook page with lots of photos of her work, and an Etsy page with original pieces and prints. She was kind enough to take the time to answer a few questions about herself and her business, so we can get to know more about the woman behind the art.

How did you get into art and painting?

Well I started out like most artists, just drawing, and I moved up through all the mediums til I found the one I like. I stopped at acrylic and it’s pretty much all I use, I will occasionally use oil but it’s rare. Acrylic is my go to method. I have always been an artist and not until about 4 years ago did I start commissioning work. I have also painted a couple murals in orphanages in Kenya. I paint pretty much anything but I’m primarily an equestrian artist.

What is your background in horses?

Like painting I have always had horses and shown. My dad trained race horses and bred quarter horses and paints, so I grew up with them. He got out of the horse business when I was about 14 but I never did. I rode western til college then went to English and have been showing in that ever since. I have a sweet spot for ottbs and that’s been my last couple of horses. I have a 4 year old that is just coming up on a year off the track. We are trying to take a whack at eventing. I think he has huge potential for it.

What is your favorite type of piece to create?

I completely prefer horses, and the bigger the canvas the better. I also like pieces of the horse instead of the whole body. Like extreme close up of a horse going over a jump or body parts. Those are my fav.

120 x 35 acrylic

Tell us more about yourself and your future plans

I’m a working single mom trying to juggle my horses, my sweet boy and art. I am the Art Director at an art studio in Midland where we have an art school for kids and painting classes for adults. My plans for my art is keep painting. I plan to do a big exhibition in Dallas in November 2016. I hope for just more and more people see my work.

If you’re interested in having a piece commissioned by Art by Candice for Christmas, the cutoff date for orders is November 15th! I can speak from personal experience that her paintings make great presents.

Small Business Spotlight: Hamer & Clay

It seems like everyone who saw my Christmas gifts to Brandy and Beka went gaga, wanting to know where I got such cute custom ornaments. The answer: Hamer & Clay.

They aren’t just ornaments, they’re art. Completely custom pieces handcrafted to order – with whatever exact details you want – means that these are lifelong keepsakes. Don’t want to reserve them for just Christmas time? Don’t worry, Kelsey will soon be offering magnets too! Your horse could live on your refrigerator year round (I know they’d rather live IN it, but ON it is cool too). She can also do just about any other animal, including dogs and cats. With prices starting at only $16, you might as well order one to represent every animal in your life.

Since H&C had to close 2014 orders early due to high demand, right now Kelsey is running a 15% off coupon on Hamer & Clay’s Etsy page for all orders over $20.  The code is SORRY2014, and is redeemable until March 1, 2015. She is also in the midst of rolling out a brand new website at so keep an eye on that! If you want to look through tons and tons of pictures of her work, follow Hamer & Clay on facebook. Kelsey runs periodic giveaways through her facebook page as well! If you want to order some as Christmas presents, the sooner the better – she books up earlier and earlier every year. And it’s no wonder, with such beautiful and affordable pieces. Her detail work is just incredible.

Kelsey was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions about herself and Hamer & Clay!

1)When did you start this business?
November 15, 2011.

2) How many employees are there in your company?
So far it’s just me. Since everything is hand sculpted, it would be hard
to hire employees. I could outsource shipping and my website, but so far
this very much a part time side project endeavour. Sometimes I’ll enlist
the help of my other half to mix a colour for me while I work on something
else. I just give him the clay colours, and tell him to mix. He’s great at

3) Where did the idea for the business come from?
When I was a young adult and teenager, I’d make things out of polymer clay
to sell at the local farmers market during the summer. It started out as
wizards, and gnomes and stuff, and I would sell them for a few dollars
each. I made them for fun for the most part. It wasn’t really about the
money. Somehow those little figurines morphed into one sided horses with
riders when I was about fourteen. My aunt commissioned me to create the
year end awards for the local saddle club and that is where these one side
ornaments really started. I took a long hiatus from polymer clay as I
entered my late teens to early twenties.One November day in 2011, I got the unmistakable urge to play with clay again, and thought; hmm I should revisit those old trophies I used to do. That was it, the ball got rolling and it’s been rolling slowly and steadily from then on.

4) What is your background in horses and art?
I have been creating stuff ever since I can remember, clay and
3-D things has always been my favourite, I’d always go over the
top with dioramas, and things like that in school. My mother
wouldn’t buy my twin brother and I colouring books, so we had to
draw our own, and use our own imaginations. We drew all of the
time, and I think her ideology really helped cultivate our
creativity. Drawing and creating things always came naturally to
me, so I pursued those interests’ right up to the university
level, obtaining a Bachelors Degree from Emily Carr University.
I majored in “Visual Arts”, technically but it was a mix between
painting and ceramics. I’m all over the place with my interests;
it was easy to bounce around from one subject to the other in
art school, to flip flop between craft and art, and craft as
art. I wasn’t exactly encouraged to make ”horse art” in school,
and I had to be creative about how I chose to use the horse as a
subject matter. Horses have always been my go to, they are
comforting, doodling and drawing horses kept me focused in
lectures and history classes.

I was one of those kids lucky enough to have a horse as early
as I can remember. I had fantastic Aunts who would take me out
riding when my mother couldn’t, and I was exposed to a lot of
horses, and a lot of trails as a youngster. It wasn’t until I
was older and finished university that I was able to afford
and prioritize lessons, and to start to dabble in competitive
riding. I am very much an adult amateur, but thoroughly enjoy
both dressage and jumping, and make it my hobby and passion to
play at low level eventing and local shows. In addition to my
full time job, and the ornament company I also work as a barn
hand. Things can get pretty hectic for me in the early winter
months when all three jobs really pick up.

5) Any interesting notes about yourself, your business or your products that you would like for people to know?
Remarkably, I had to close the shop early this year, and ended up turning
away a lot of potential customers and orders. The 15% off sale is a way of
saying both sorry and thank you at the same time. The code is SORRY2014
and is active in our etsy shop.There are a few new products in the works for 2015, including fridge magnets and a special edition limited run of 10-20 for the 2015 holiday season.

As a nod to my love of drawing and creating as a kid, I’ll also be
offering one free ornament a month for children who submit their dream
horse in the way of a drawing to the Facebook page. The winners will be
drawn at random, and I will recreate their drawing into a 3-D ornament. I
remember what it was like to fantasize as a little kid, and to draw my
dream horse over and over again. I also remember thinking it would be
amazing for this horse to come to life. Hopefully these ornaments inspire
that just a little.
There will also be a small price increase in 2015 for all ornaments, after
the sale. I have found that some ornaments are just taking longer and
longer to make with the more details I add. I am a junkie for the
challenge, and small details. I love I absolutely love the challenge, but
I also need to be realistic about what I am charging and how many hours I
spend on an ornament.

So order early, order many, enjoy your discount and pack your tree with all your favorite faces next Christmas! Thanks Kelsey for being so easy to work with… I ordered 7 ornaments and was beyond picky and specific about really tiny details. Not only was she very accommodating, she completely nailed it with every single one. Each one arrived beautifully packaged and they were such a joy to give to friends.

Time for me to order some of my own horses!

Small Business Spotlight: Annie’s Equestrienne Apparel

Anyone who follows me on Instagram has seen lots of pictures of my hot pink full seats lately, and a few of my Tiffany blue ones. I never would have expected to love bright colored breeches so much, but I have to admit: they’re awesome and I’m obsessed. So a couple weeks ago when I decided it was time to revamp my Small Business Spotlight series, Annie’s Equestrienne Apparel was at the top of my list.

Some of you may actually already know the company’s namesake, from this video –  Annie meets Pepper – which seems to go viral every Christmas in the horse world. It’s so cute it hurts. While they started out making clothes for kids, they’ve also expanded to a ladies line. They have a color to suit just about anyone, from royal purple to red to hot pink to deep royal blue. Hermes orange? They got it. Apple green? Got that too. Not into bright colors? How about a black pair with skull and crossbones on the butt? If fun breeches are your thing you must get acquainted with Annie’s. Too boring for any that? Don’t worry, they have basic white too.

If you’re not a fan of full seats, have no fear. Annie’s has plans to roll out some limited colors in a knee patch version around mid-December. In addition to their awesome line of breeches they also offer a nice basic schooling shirt for women and several shirts and polos for girls (great Christmas gift for that pony-loving barn rat in your life).

To make it even better, right now Annie’s is offering a different promotional deal every week through the holidays. This week if you purchase a pair of Ladies breeches you get a schooling shirt for only $5 with the code “layerup” – a $40 savings. Definitely Like them on Facebook and follow them on Instagram @anniesusa so you don’t miss any of their upcoming deals! Cherry on top – right now they’re also offering free shipping through the end of the year.

And now for the fun part – the Q&A! Annie’s mom Shannon gave us some more insight into their operation.

1) When did you start this business?

Annie’s Equestrienne Apparel launched in late January of 2014.

2) How many employees do you have?

We are a family business: my husband and myself, along with our three teenage sons and 9 year old daughter Annie.

3) Where did the idea for the business come from?

Annie and I had been trying to shop for schooling apparel, but we just couldn’t find anything we both really loved. The options for young riders were either too little girlish, or just scaled down versions of adult clothing. One day Annie got out her crayons and drew what she thought would be “fun” clothes to wear while riding her pony Pepper. She had sketched a bright pair of pink breeches and a colorfully striped polo shirt. When she showed them to me I said “Those are really cute…somebody should make them”. This lightbulb went off in my head and voila…the concept for Annie’s was born!

4) What is your background in horses and design?

I grew up on a farm and have been around and shown horses periodically throughout my entire life. I also have always loved fashion, so combining the two just came naturally. Annie comes up with the basic styles and colors, I tweak them to make them a bit more “realistic”, and we have professional pattern makers and seamstresses to make the magic happen! It’s very important for us to not only have fresh, unique and fashion forward design, but to also have it withstand the rigors of the equestrian sport.

5) Any interesting notes about yourself, your business or your products that you would like for people to know?

When we launched earlier this year, we were specifically a children’s/tweens brand. However, shortly after our product made it into the market we were getting inundated with requests to make ladies sizes. In just a few short months, we were offering ladies styles and even a boys breech! We’ve been so busy we haven’t yet changed the tagline on our website from “Sweet schooling clothes for girls” to “Colour your ride”! Colouring their ride is exactly what our customers are doing. We’ve heard time and time again (from ordinary riders to very high end clientele and professional equestrians), that they LOVE our brand, and are thrilled to find such outstanding quality and fashionable riding apparel at affordable prices. Some customers recently told us that our brand was “happy chic” and that we reminded them of the “Kate Spade of the equestrian world”!

We are beyond flattered and humbled with feedback like that, as well as how well we’ve been received thus far. We are so thankful to have such a supportive and loyal customer base…many of whom cannot wait to see what the next color of breeches will be!

“Happy chic” is absolutely the best term to describe Annie’s… it’s impossible to have a bad ride when you’re wearing fun breeches. And how could you not love an entrepreneurial kid like Annie?

Eventually (one of these days when I’m not so horse poor) these Tardis Blue breeches will be mine. It’s a must-have color even if you’re not a big Dr Who nerd like I am. Or maybe the purple since they’d go perfectly with a bonnet and baby pad I already have? I’m beginning to understand how so many Annie’s customers become “collectors”.

Working with Annie’s has been nothing but an absolute pleasure. They’re so nice and so friendly and just so… darn pleasant. Must be a side effect of being surrounded by fun colors all the time. They’re exactly the kind of small business I love to support! If you’re looking to add to your breeches collection or buy a few gifts for the holidays, definitely keep Annie’s in mind.

Even better? Take it one step further and pair them with Mango Bay!


Small Business Spotlight: FireFly Custom Bonnets

I’ll be the first to admit I have a major custom bonnet obsession. There’s something about a pretty horse hat that just makes my soul smile. The problem for me has always been price: $100+ is a pretty tough pill to swallow. On the other hand, I’m really particular about the right materials and fit and colors, so just any ol’ off the rack bonnet won’t do. Then last year I discovered FireFly Bonnets and suddenly the possibilities were endless.


I started off buying one bonnet as a present for a friend, to match a custom baby pad that I’d had made for her. I fell so in love with the workmanship and attention to detail that before I knew it I had 4 of my own with plans for more. Because bonnets are like potato chips (or ponies): you can’t have just one. I’ve had bonnets from the well known “big name” brands before, and I have to say that the quality of the FireFly bonnets is, IMO, better. Plus you have all the same options for custom sizing, ear embroidery, embellishments, etc at a substantially lower cost.


Prices start at $55 for a basic bonnet, and increase with added options. Cording is $10 per row, rhinestones are $15 per row, custom beading is $20 per row, plain scallops are $5, scallops with crystals in center are $10, ear embroidery is $10. She can even embroider a logo on the bonnet for $10-20. Custom size ears are no additional charge, which is great for people like me who have both a little-eared creature and a donkey-eared creature… they each can have something made to fit perfectly without that excess ear fabric that makes me so batty.


New bonnet styles are still being added to the store, so if you don’t see what you’re looking for shoot them a message and they can definitely help you out. Nicole is fantastic (and so patient!) about working with you to design exactly what you want. She can even make mock-ups if you’re stuck trying to choose between a few different colors/designs. In my experience she really is dedicated to designing and producing an item that is perfect for you and that you will be happy with for many years to come. Keep in mind that as with all custom items, beautiful things take time, so allow up to 6 weeks until delivery. The good news is that if you DO need something in a hurry, they can make it happen for a small rush fee.


Nicole at FireFly was kind enough to give us a little more insight into her business:

1) When did you start this business?
I have been making bonnets for friends for years, but I started FireFly as it is today in November of 2013. FireFly is quickly gaining popularity throughout the US and Canada, and customers range from pleasure riders to grand prix showjumpers.

2) How many employees are there in your company?
I am the sole designer and creator here at FireFly. Unless you want to count the plastic horse head that models finished bonnets for customers.

3) Where did the idea for the business come from?
I’ve been crocheting since I was young, and I’ve always loved the look of fly bonnets on horses. However, it seemed like you could either have a cheaply made, $10 bonnet from the local tack shop, or you could spend half your paycheck on a bonnet from a custom maker. I decided to learn how to make bonnets so I could offer a show quality bonnet at a more reasonable price.

4) What is your background in horses and design?
I have been riding and working at barns since I was 15, but have never owned my own horse. I have a degree in Graphic Design, which definitely helps with the process of designing bonnets and helping customers visualize how the bonnet they envision will look in real life.

5) Any interesting notes about yourself, your business or your products that you would like for people to know?
FireFly bonnets are made by hand with a stitch that is different from that of other bonnet makers. The result is a more solid looking fabric that is very elegant. It does take slightly longer to produce a bonnet in this fashion, but I think the end result is worth it. Firefly also offers nearly unlimited customization options. Trim colors, beads, rhinestones, cording… All come in a rainbow of colors and can be completely customized to your liking. Want a bright yellow bonnet with purple trim, hot pink cord and orange rhinestones? Strange for sure, but no problem! If I can’t find the materials to create exactly what you have in mind, I will do my best to find something that is as close as possible.


I have to admit, I was particularly excited to do this edition of Small Business Spotlight because FireFly is a company that I really believe in and can stand behind 100% as a loyal customer. I really feel strongly that for custom bonnets, there is no one better than Nicole. Attention to detail is what separates The Best from The Rest, and her detail work is impeccable. They are without a doubt the best value custom bonnets on the market. Next time you find yourself fancying a new bonnet, or needing a fantastic gift for a friend, definitely consider FireFly.

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Small Business Spotlight: Emily’s Equine Creations

Another Friday, another Small Business Spotlight. This one is a really fun one: Emily’s Equine Creations. If you’re active on basically any kind of social media, you’ve probably seen her products before. If not, you really need to like her on facebook and follow her on Instagram – you’re missing out on all the pretty things.


The most popular product at EEC definitely seems to be bridle charms. My personal favorite is the hand-stamped tag with a colored gem. Gone are the days of just a boring brass tag! It’s the perfect dual purpose item: a practical tag to mark your bridle plus some pretty bling for decoration. You can have the tag stamped with whatever you want – your name or your horse’s name or even just a word that means something to you. The gems come in light blue, blue, clear, light pink, magenta, red, orange, yellow, lime green, dark green, lilac or gray. If you’re not so into bling but still want a cool tag, she can do that too. The best part? These are only $3! At that price you might as well order one for every piece of tack you own.



She also offers lots of other charms, from crowns to clovers to anchors to initials. I think my next favorite item is the spherical balls of bling that I personally think would look really cute on boot zipper pulls.


If you’re some kind of weirdo who doesn’t like bling, EEC also offers custom hand painted brushes and stall signs starting as low as $15. Lots of things in her store would make great gifts for the hard to shop for equestrian, and your money goes to help support another fellow horse lover’s obsession. That’s my favorite part about small businesses like this!




EEC’s creator Emily (bet you never would have guessed!) was kind enough to give us more insight into her business.

1) When did you start this business?

I began my business as Emily’s Stall Signs. Which is exactly what I did, stall signs! It began in December 2013 when I was brainstorming Christmas gifts for my barn family that wouldn’t break my college student budget. My first 2 years of college were as an art major, so I thought I would give stall signs a shot. Turns out, when I posted them on Facebook, TONS of people wanted me to make some for them too, so I created a Facebook page and got to work. After a little while I started dabbling in different products and renamed my little business, Emily’s Equine Creations, in March 2014.

2) How many employees are in your company?

It’s just me, myself, and I. However, my boyfriend occasionally helps me with designing logos and prepping brushes. I also have 5 brand ambassadors who help with advertising and I also sponsor local riders and barns.

3) Where did the idea for the business come from?

I think I pretty much answered this in question 1, but I’ll expand on it a little. A lot of my basic product ideas come from seeing a need and want for custom products but what’s already out there is expensive. Horses are already expensive, and it’s nice to be able to get quality, custom products at an affordable price.

4) What is your background in horses?

I’ve been riding since I was 7 or 8, so around 14 years. I grew up in the hunter jumper world in the Midwest, and that’s where I’m strongest. But I also play in dressage, eventing, jumpers, and even show up in the western ring contesting and showing ranch horse classes occasionally. I own 1 horse, he’s a 17hh, 12 year old standardbred that I’ve had since I was 13. I also ride and train one of my trainer’s horses, a 7 year old Irish thoroughbred.

5) Any interesting notes about yourself, your business or your products that you would like for people to know?

I love making my customers happy and seeing people enjoying and showing off their creations is what makes me happy. I love what I’m doing and don’t plan on quitting any time soon. Running this business keeps me incredibly busy, and on top of a second job, riding, and school, it’s very stressful at times, but I wouldn’t change it for anything.




If you like her stuff – definitely go follow her on Instagram. Every 500 or so followers she does a giveaway, so there are regular opportunities to win FREE STUFF. Everyone loves free stuff, especially when it’s this adorable.

Small Business Spotlight AND GIVEAWAY: Mango Bay

I’m super excited about this week’s Small Business Spotlight. One of the best accessories in the whole world is belts. I love a great belt, and Mango Bay Design makes some of the best.


Their canvas belts are so versatile – they look great with breeches or just with jeans. I love the flat ring closures because they lie FLAT underneath a show coat and they don’t loosen or slip open while you’re riding. Not to mention the wide range of style choices. From bold lime or orange to classic gray or tan, chevron patterns to h/j patterns to dressage patterns – there truly is something for everyone. And the absolute best part? The price! At only $18 you don’t have to worry about picking just one, you can get several. Must Have ALL. The. Belts.


I have the “Equestrian Collage pattern on cornflower blue” belt and absolutely love it. As I said before, it lies perfectly flat under my softshell coat (I really don’t need any extra lumps, thankyouverymuch) and fits perfectly into the belt loops of my Animo breeches. I’ve also worn it in a non-horsey setting with shorts and a tee, a subtle but fashionable way to still show my equestrian pride. All belts are available in sizes S-3X, plus they can make custom sizes if you so desire.


Now for the best part of this Spotlight: THE GIVEAWAY! Mango Bay has graciously offered to give a belt to one lucky reader. Any belt on the website could be yours! You can earn up to three entries: 1) Leave a comment on this blog post telling me what your favorite Mango Bay belt is. 2) Go to Facebook and “Like” MangoBay. 3) Follow MangoBayDesign on Instagram. To register your entries PLEASE CLICK HERE. If you don’t do that part, I won’t know you’ve entered. Please make sure to leave your email address with your blog comment so I have a way to contact you if you win. Also you must be a US resident to enter. Sorry foreign friends, I am bound by laws and such. The contest closes Sunday night at 11:59PM CST, so get your entries in soon! The winner will be announced on Monday.


Want to know more about the awesome company who is making this giveaway possible? Pam at Mango Bay was kind enough to answer some questions so we could get to know them better!

1) When did Mango Bay start?

I started my business 5 years ago in 2009. Had spent the prior 30 years doing artwork for Broadway shows – painting backdrops – the large canvas that’s in back of all of the built scenery.

2) How many employees are in your company?

Right now I have 1 employee who helps when we print and then does a lot of the sewing.

3) Where did the idea for the business come from?

Got the idea for my business because I love belts and was tired of the stereotypical preppy ribbon belts. I wanted to do an updated version, replacing the d-rings, which always loosen up, with flat rings, which stay closed. I really enjoy doing the equestrian designs, as I love horses and love going to the shows.

4) What is your background in horses?

I rode while in middle and upper school, then stopped in college, as it wasn’t “cool” to ride when one was going to design school, esp. in the early ’70’s. After college, I became addicted to sailing, owning and racing several boats when there were very few women doing that outside of dingy racing. I totally understand what it’s like to put all of one’s effort into excelling at something that most of the world thinks is as easy and elegant and painless as it appears in a Ralph Lauren ad.

5) Any interesting notes about yourself, your business or your products that you would like for people to know?

New products – more designs on wider fabrics, a steeplechase print for the fall, and have had many requests for an equestrian print scarf for holiday gift giving, (when size can be an issue with belts). Most importantly, and one of the reasons I love doing shows, is to learn what my customers need and want!



Whether you prefer classic, bold, fun or modern, Mango Bay really does have something to suit any style. In writing this post I perused their website again and am now obsessed with the denim chevron belt. I NEED THAT. Next time you’re buying a belt, give this small business a shot – I hope you like your Mango Bay belt as much as I do!

Small Business Spotlight: Personally Preppy

In the words of Lauren from She Moved to Texas: MONOGRAM ALL THE THINGS. Monograms are awesome in so many ways. Not only are they really pretty and stylish, but for those of us who board we understand that personalization can help prevent things from growing legs and wandering away. Put down your Sharpie, people – there is now a better way.

My featured business this week for the Small Business Spotlight series is Personally Preppy. If you have Instagram you have probably seen one of their fabulous helmet monograms by now, which have absolutely blown up in popularity over the last few months. They also offer glove monograms, breeches monograms, monogrammed whips, cell phone cases, etc etc. Just about everything a monogram lover could possibly dream up. The best part is that everything is very affordable – you can go crazy and stick a monogram on everything without breaking the bank. See their full line-up on their Etsy store:


As soon as I first saw their helmet monogram I knew I absolutely had to have it. I opted for black since it would be more subtle on my show helmet, but still a really cute and fun way to personalize it. As soon as I had that, I ordered a monogram for one pair of my show breeches and my show gloves. Last week I ordered a light blue monogram for my “junker” schooling helmet. Because… awesome.



You aren’t limited to only the things you see in their store. If you can dream it, they can probably create it. Custom orders are no problem. In fact, I am getting ready to submit my fourth (addiction much?) order, for a custom heat transfer to go on a new fly bonnet. We won’t talk about how many fly bonnets I have either.

If you’ve read any of my Small Business Spotlights by now, here’s the fun section you’re expecting: words from the business owners!

1) When did you start this business?
Personally Preppy opened their online Etsy shop in April of 2014.


2) How many employees are there in your company?
We have about 5 employees, and a few brand ambassadors. Tate & Kir are very hands on with each order, but attribute our success to a hard work ethic, and a passion for horses & riders. As riders, Tate & Kir love supporting riders around the world, who also share the same passion for the sport and the animals.


3) Where did the idea for the business come from?
While competing at an IHSA show as Captain of the Salve Regina Equestrian Team, Kir recognized that the girl’s helmets, crops, gloves, and saddle pads were constantly confused and sometimes lost. As an avid “Prepsters” and Equestrians we knew monograms was the solution! Later that night, Tate and Kir started Personally Preppy. They said “It was a big risk starting a company in college but with hard work and perseverance Personally Preppy was born!”


4) What is your background in horses?
Tate & Kir, best friends, and sisters began Personally Preppy while Tate was pursuing her MBA and while Kirsten was a freshman, both at Salve Regina University.  While growing up in Westchester, NY we began horseback riding at a young age, and got hooked into the horse show world after our first Walk-Trot class!  Our parents, both successful entrepreneurs, consistently encourage us to find an idea, and be strong business women. Together, as a team, Tate & Kir ran pony camp to help pay for their horse shows. While working in the industry, and being avid horse show girls, we recognized that everyone has similar clothes, and equipment in the horse world. We agreed that monogramming would be a fun, yet classic way to let our preppy style shine in the ring. Today, Kir and Tate are thrilled with the consistent growth of the company, and continue to add new, quality products with a strong attention to customer satisfaction.


5) Any interesting notes about yourself, your business or your products that you would like for people to know?
We are a sister run company, we love working together as best friends, and business partners. We support girl power, and the power of hard work. We love supporting riders around the world who have a love for their horses as well as a love for equestrian style.
We want to thank our Mom, (our creative consultant) our Dad (our number 1 fan)  and our Brother Ricky (our production assistant) for believing in us, being patient while we hog the dinner table conversation with horses and always encouraging us to chase our dreams.




There is a lot to love about Personally Preppy. Style, practicality, affordability and fun. All of that while supporting a small business at the same time – doesn’t get much better. Find them on Instagram at personallypreppy to stay up to date on all their cool new stuff. Thanks Personally Preppy for all of your great products thus far, and the ones to come in the future!


Small Business Spotlight: Bellequi

Next up in my Small Business Spotlight series is a UK based company: Bellequi. I first stumbled across this company on Facebook, somehow following link after link of pretty jackets before ending up on their page (search Bellequi on facebook). I spent a while drooling over their photos before wandering over to their website and was immediately blown away by the prices. AFFORDABLE softshell coats and tech fabric shirts? And the coats can be done in custom colors for only a few dollars more??? Be still my beating heart.


The coats come in a stretch polyester version (available in Black for about $145 USD) and a washable softshell version. The washable version currently comes in 4 base colors – navy, black, gray, and red (keep reading to hear about upcoming NEW coat colors) – all with black lapels plus nice contrasting piping for only about $160 USD.










Or you can get really fancy and go for the CUSTOM option (this is where I get really excited) and choose from a myriad of lapel colors for about $195 USD. Also with this option you can choose to leave the Bellequi logos off of the sleeves and back if you’d rather have a plainer coat. In addition, the owner of Bellequi tells me that it’s possible to choose a different button option if you prefer something more subdued – they will work with you to get exactly what you want. I have been planning my coat order for months and finally think I’ve got it figured out… happy birthday to me.


I do already own a Bellequi shirt, which is part of what has me so intent on ordering a coat. They have several shirt options available in tech fabrics, all with your choice of short or long sleeves. The long sleeve options are not shown on the website, but if that’s what you’re interested in – contact them. I have the Paige with long sleeves, which is a nice lightweight Coolmax type fabric, perfect for wearing in the summer and it has a nice flattering cut plus POCKETS. Best of all – these shirts start at only $30 USD. No that’s not a typo.

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For those among us with inquiring minds, Cheryl, the owner of Bellequi, was kind enough to answer some questions about her business.

1) When did you start this business?

I started this business in 2013 after being a equestrian clothing stockist since 2009 selling all major brands.

2) How many employees are there in your company?

I work mostly alone with help from my husband.

3) Where did the idea for the business come from?

We started Bellequi after seeing a gap in the market for high end equestrian clothing at a affordable price. We wanted to create a modern funky brand that is not only functional (waterproof show jackets are machine washable) but also something that is a bit different.

4) What is your background in horses and fashion?

I have been around horses since I was five years old and left training to become a riding instructor to start my business in equestrian clothing. My husband works with the queens horses in the army veterinary corps.

5) Any interesting notes about yourself, your business or your products that you would like for people to know?

We want to make fashion on horseback fun and purse friendly but also practical. We have some fantastic colours expected by the end of June including fuchsia pink, purple, electric blue and spearmint. These funky colours will run alongside our current colours navy, blk, red and grey.


Yes, she said purple. Did everyone else’s inner kid just squeal shamelessly with delight? I might need one of those too.

As of right now Bellequi is only available in the US via their website, but they do ship here and they accept several forms of payment including Paypal. I’ve ordered from overseas more times than I can count and always had good experiences, so don’t be put off by that. If you’re looking for a fun affordable softshell that won’t break the bank, consider supporting a small business and take a closer look at Bellequi!