This week’s ‘a few minutes with…’ is all about Annabelle Brittle, part of the team behind My Horse Box, the equestrian subscription box. Here, Annabelle shares a bit more about the business with us. It’s a great read.
Tell us about you and your background.
Hi! I’m Annabelle, and I run My Horse Box with my partner Jonathan. We met at Lancaster University in 2013, where I was studying English Literature and he was studying Nuclear Engineering… they say opposites attract, don’t they? I’m a horse rider, avid reader and tea drinker! Jonathan generally prefers horsepower to horses, but I’ve managed to get him on one a couple of times, and I think he’s catching the bug.
What made you want to start a business?
I used to work in the beauty and fashion industry, and I ran my own beauty blog, so I subscribed to many subscription boxes for hair and makeup. When I started horse riding last year I suddenly wondered if there was a monthly box for equestrians and their ponies, but after a quick Google search I couldn’t find what I had in mind. So I made the mistake of telling Jonathan this – within 24 hours we’d purchased the www.myhorsebox.com domain and started contacting brands. He’s nothing if not proactive!
How is your business different?
In the equestrian market, the whole concept of subscription boxes is relatively unknown, so that’s one big difference right off the bat – we’re bringing something very new to the market. We also embrace all kinds of social media, utilising everything from Instagram Stories to Facebook Live sessions, in an attempt to engage with as varied audience an as possible.
What makes your products special?
I think the fact that our subscribers don’t know what’s going to be in each box until they open it makes them special – people say it’s like Christmas every month. We also have a strong luxury focus, and we like to highlight small businesses, so all the products we feature are either from premium brands or new, bespoke companies. It’s really heartening when we hear feedback from our customers telling us that they’ve discovered a new favourite brand or product thanks to our boxes.
If you had to sum up My Horse Box in five words, what would they be?
Shiny Boxes Full Of Goodies!
Do you have a motto or ethos?
Don’t Let The Bastards Grind You Down! Can I say that?? We’ve had a lot of challenges thrown at us since launching, the most frustrating of which being copycat companies coming out of the woodwork, who have copied our box contents, stolen writing off our website to use on their own, and tried to poach subscribers. But we just keep our heads down and keep on trucking, and we have a truly wonderful group of subscribers and friends who help keep us going.
If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring business owner, what would it be?
Go for it – and sort out your social media as soon as possible. We had around 5,000 social media followers across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram before we even made our first boxes, so when we launched we had a ready-made audience who were sharing and engaging with our content. It really helped give us that first boost when we launched.
One thing that helps you run My Horse Box more effectively
Our business mentor (also called Jonathan) from Virgin Start Up. If we ever find ourselves stuck for ideas regarding marketing, logistics, or anything else, he comes in with a fresh pair of eyes and gives us excellent feedback and food for thought.
Best thing about running a business?
Being my own boss. I have the freedom to conduct business calls in my PJs, I can finalise project details from the comfort of my sofa, and I’ve even been known to reply to emails whilst on horseback, hacking through a forest!
Worst thing about running a business?
Also being my own boss. It’s often tempting to take a lie-in on a Monday, and it’s all too easy to be distracted by the TV/fridge/garden… but I just have a stern word with myself and get back to business!
Top business blog you follow
We really like Tim Ferris’ blog. He wrote ‘The 4 Hour Workweek’ and his blog is full of useful tips about how to maximise your productivity whilst leaving you with plenty of time to actually enjoy your life. He totally rejects the ‘9-5’, hard-slog style of work that many of us are used to, and offers a very fresh perspective on how to achieve a better balance.
Top business book you’ve read
‘Oversubscribed’ by Daniel Priestley, because it really changed the way we looked at marketing our business. It essentially guides you to consider how you could make the demand for your product higher than your capacity to supply, ergo making yourself ‘oversubscribed’. If people perceive an air of exclusivity and ‘club-ness’ about your brand (think Apple, Chanel, Aston Martin), they will form an orderly queue. It works!
One thing we might not know about you
My Horse Box isn’t the first business we’ve run. During my first year of uni, Jonathan and I used to make and sell yoga hair ties out of our student flat (you know, the ones made of soft, flat elastic ribbon that people went crazy for circa 2014). We did it for 6 months and made ourselves about £400, so you could say that sowed the entrepreneurial seed for My Horse Box!
Top business achievement
When showjumper Anna Power wore our branded saddle pad whilst competing at Olympia last year. I felt my heart nearly explode with pride when I saw the pictures.
Where can people follow you or your business online
Our website it at www.myhorsebox.com