Building a horse business around a custom tack idea

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This is the second part of an interview with Natasha Raina of Two Horse Tack. If you missed Sunday’s post, find out what fun she’s having with horse business success here. Read this prior horse blog post if you want to know why Natasha started her business, what beta biothane is or how she can provide custom tack at such affordable prices.

We continue the story today with honest revelations of the challenges and success that Natasha experienced to ultimately make winging it work in building a successful horse business. If you’re dreaming of Inventing Your Horse Career, we have tons of free stuff (including videos, articles and content snippets) as well as affordable Kindle Editions and a more elaborate entire CD package (great gift for the horse lover in your life) available. If you’re looking for single titles of the Inventing Your Horse Career series as MP3s available via iTunes, Audible and Amazon, these will be offered soon. Sign up for our newsletter if you want to know the moment these are available. We’ll include clickable links to your favorite online retailer.

You’re in the process of moving sales from e-bay to your website. Can you talk a bit about your success selling through e-bay?

Inventing your horse career with custom tack by Two Horse Tack “We launched on e-bay March 2011. Obviously you have to have an image to list on e-bay. It was a big leap from knowing how to make stuff to how to market stuff. Traditionally tack is featured in a light box instead of on a horse. I put a white sheet up in the basement – starting out with English and Western bridles – and used hot lamps that they use for poultry instead of expensive photography lights. People didn’t realize the bridle came with  reins, so I draped the reins separately on top and around the headstall. The only problem with this fix is when viewed as a thumbnail the whole setup looked like and was a perfect rendering of a penis.

“The biggest hurdles we’ve had is people don’t know anything about the material and may be hesitant to try it. One of the ways to overcome this is to make the product visually appealing and provide quality photos with lots of detail. Try to help people understand what they’re getting.We have found that people don’t necessarily read descriptions, they base their buying decisions on the picture.

“I took a cheap point and shoot camera and put the product on a horse. That actually was a huge step in the right direction. Everything went better when it was pictured on a horse. I spent all of 2011 putting tack on my horses and took over 100,000 pictures that year using just my 2 horses as models. If a horse is not in the picture people don’t understand. They can’t visualize it. It just looks like a bunch of straps.

“A lady from Norway bought one of our items and she sent me some really nice pictures on her horse with a professional camera. We sold way more of this product than anything else. This is where everyone comes together and helps you. A friend let me borrow his $2,000 camera to see if it made a difference. It did. The continuous shooting mode on  cameras make a huge difference when trying to capture the right shot. There are very few books out there on how to take pictures of horses – certainly not how to take pictures of tack on horses and make money off that. The more visually appealing it is the better it sells.”

What’s your background?

Horse Sense and Cents talks with Two Horse Tack founder about Inventing Your Horse Career“I’ve had a horse since I was 10 years old and  lessons when I was 6. My first horse, Magic was a saint, a sorrel QH gelding, who you can see on our site modeling at the ripe old age of 30.  I would always joke that he was one quarter horse and three quarter guardian angel. Thanks to him I was able to do a little bit of everything. My riding horse now is Sue, a 12 year old QH gray mare who is directly related to him. Her nickname is Long, Suffering Sue.

“As verification of my varied interests just take a look at our site, Facebook and the blog. Most of the pictures of a gray horse are of her. I’ll do a couple of endurance rides each year, lots of trails and camping. I’m a speed demon so I like anything with speed, like barrel racing. I even dressed her up in one of our medieval bridles and was the headless horsemen in the local Halloween parade. I also love driving and have found it is the perfect way to let non-horsey people experience how wonderful horses are. My goal this year is try a sanctioned three-day event. I also recently tried Mounted Games for the first time this year and absolutely loved it! Basically if it involves a horse I’ll try it!

“With our Tack giveaways I started asking out of curiosity ‘What type of riding do you do’ I’ve found our audience is the same kind of people. We like to do a bit everything. We’re not professionals and the ribbons don’t matter.”

What did you do to get ready to launch Two Horse Tack?

“I started the company’s online presence in 2011. Getting ready to launch implies it was this well organized, well thought-out plan. It was more of a, let’s just give this a shot and see how it goes kind of thing. It’s good to have ignorance. It would have been off-putting if I had told myself two years ago how much work it was going to be. Everything is a struggle. From tack designs, product descriptions . to managing the back-end of our website.

“The pictures are a job in itself. I usually work with 2-3 helpers or posers. With the camera’s continuous shooting mode a normal 2-3 hour shoot will result in over 2,000 photos. I will then have to pick through and edit. Each photo visible on the website requires about 10-20 minutes worth of editing. Flies, weird backgrounds have to be removed and then the image has to be colored corrected with a properly calibrated monitor so the colors depicted are as accurate as possible. Learning the editing program (Adobe Photoshop) was a huge learning curve.

“When you put it down on paper what’s involved, I could see why someone would go ‘thanks, but no thanks.’ You have to learn a whole lot on the business side. How to add traffic; there’s a lot to learn to use Google Analytics, a wonderful product, effectively.”

If you’re looking for tack you can stick in a washing machine or dishwasher – you’ve found it.

In case you missed the video in the first blog post of this interview, here it is again (it’s only two minutes – well done and worth the watch):

 

Have a horse business idea? Share your dream in the comments below to get some help getting there. Please also click the sharebar to let others know how much you enjoy this free blog. Thanks!

Nanette Levin


Nanette Levin is a writer, author and equestrian specializing in young horse training and horses with issues. Look for Horse Sense & Cents titles on Amazon, Audible and other major online retailers.

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