I’m really excited about today’s ‘a few minutes with…’, all about Alec Lochore. Alec is well known in eventing circles and has an incredible CV. He’s also one of the speakers at this year’s Farm Business Innovation Show.
In addition to running Alec Lochore Event & Equestrian Consultancy and Musketeer Event Management (the company responsible for Burnham Market International and Houghton International, amongst others), Alec has held many notable positions in the sport. But he can tell the story much better…
Tell us a bit about Alex Lochore Event & Equestrian Consultancy and Musketeer Event Management?
A.L.E.C is an Event and Equestrian Consultancy business which over the past 15 years has been involved with the design and running of sporting events. Predominantly but not exclusively equestrian projects and covering a complete spectrum of the different levels from grass roots through to Olympic Games.
As an equestrian consultant, I look at the design, strategic and operational planning and the management and delivery of projects and events from the small-scale farm diversification to the large scale international facilities focusing on maximising efficiency and profitability.
As well as working as a consultant, Musketeer Event Management was established in 2001 running equestrian events up and down the country including Houghton International, Burnham Market International, Whitfield Horse Trials and Cholmondeley Castle Horse Trials.
What makes your business different to others?
When working with clients both as a consultant and through Musketeer, I always try to maintain a ‘yes’ and a ‘can do’ policy. Working with and to the client’s objectives, being reactive in trying to find solutions to any problem encountered in order to reach the end goal. To have an idea, go for it and make it happen.
What area of business are you talking about at the Farm Business Innovation Show and why?
At the Farm Business Innovation Show I am going to be examining the opportunities available in the diversification into equestrian events. Making the right choice in the type of enterprise and then turning the plan into a reality. I am also going to look at the different types of opportunities and the benefits they can bring as well as the possible threats that might have to be encountered.
When are you speaking and why should people come along and listen?
I feel that the equestrian events market has a growing potential, and is a good opportunity for land owners to diversify into a different area of business that they might not have considered. My intention would also be to stimulate investigation and provide some context and understanding for those people who are interested in an area of diversification which can be very complementary and work well running alongside already established farming business and other area of rural land management.
Who inspires you?
I am inspired not by a particular person but sports men and woman who have achieved global success on the world stage. My belief is that no matter what sport or what the athlete’s background, whether rich or poor, a man or a woman, and with no consideration for ethnicity or religion, this person has achieved through the grit, determination, sacrifice, hard work and huge strength of character to persevere through the tough times in order to reach success.
You can find out more about Alec and hear his take on the above at the Farm Business Innovation Show.
To find out more about Alec Lochore, his consultancy or Musketeer Event Management, follow the links below…
Did you miss last week’s Farm Business Innovation Show themed ‘a few minutes with…’? Read about Emma Collison from Moor View Alpacas and Debbie North from the Outdoor Guide.
Have you heard about Apt Cavalier? This fairly new equestrian brand gained a sizeable following pre-launch on Instagram, and has continued to deliver on social media and in product since. Headed by Sarah Johnstone, a fashion design graduate and self professed determined eventer, Apt Cavalier is definitely a brand to watch. In this blog, I catch up with the lady herself…
Tell us about you and your background What made you want to start a business?
I started Apt Cavalier because it simply “made sense”. I graduated with an Honours Degree in Fashion Design and have lived in the heart of the equestrian world for almost 20 years, so combining my expertise in clothing design with my knowledge of the competitive riding industry just seemed like my logical career path.
How is Apt Cavalier different?
Now, my answer to this is a bit unorthodox, because essentially it probably isn’t all that different. I’m not going to delude myself into thinking that I’m filling a gap in the market, because truthfully there are hundreds of equestrian clothing brands out there who do a great job. However, equestrians (including myself) tend to live and breathe this lifestyle, it’s more than just a sport or a hobby, it’s who we are and what we love. So, I firmly believe that there will always be room in the market for another service to the horsey world.
What makes your products special?
Ah, now this question is exciting as we may not be all that different but our products sure are special! Our line of performance wear is designed to solve real life problems, primarily in Eventing. Take our Performance Skins for example; designed initially for wearing cross-country but can also be worn during training and around the yard. Personally, my biggest problem on the cross-country course was that I was too hot; when I finished my round, I was red in the face, uncomfortable and desperate to get my body protector off. So, I wanted to create something that eliminated this discomfort meaning the only thing I would have to think about at the end of my round was how amazing it was. I wanted to create something that meant my attention was first and foremost on caring for my horse, and cooling him down, rather than having to dart into the lorry to strip off!
So, what really makes us special is the fabric technology and innovative design that goes into each and every product and provides solutions to real equestrian problems!
If you had to sum up Apt Cavalier in five words, what would they be?
A brand for the riders!
Do you have a motto or ethos?
To make all our business decisions according to what it best for the riders.
If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring business owner, what would it be?
Just get on with it! You can plan and plan and plan, but planning doesn’t achieve results- taking action does! Just remember you can learn and adjust along the way!
One thing that helps you run Apt Cavalier more effectively
That amazing feeling when someone places an order – someone actually wants to wear something that I created!!! I don’t think that feeling will ever go away!
Worst thing about running a business?
Knowing that if it all goes tits-up (excuse my French), it’s on me!
Top business blog you follow?
What I really like to do is search a keyword or topic in the ‘Posts’ section of LinkedIn. For example, I might search “small business growth” and there will be two or three really inspirational posts- I like to read articles by lots of different people, from different backgrounds as they all have different insights.
Top business book you’ve read?
Does the Eventing Life magazine count?? Let’s call it market research!
One thing we might not know about you?
I came up with the initial concept of Apt Cavalier when I was bored and signed off work – my lovely SuperCob got very excited in the field and ended up kicking me in the hand, shattering two of my bones as well as kindly removing my tendons. The doctors rebuild my bones using calcium and said I might not be able to ride as I would struggle to gain full use of my hand again – but determined as ever, I was back on within 12 weeks and here I am just two years later competing at BENovice!
Top business achievement?
Watching an accomplished four-star rider gallop around Burghley wearing one of our Performance Skins!
Where can people follow Apt Cavalier online?
Facebook : Apt Cavalier Ltd
Have you heard of Super X Country and the lady at the helm, Becci Leigh Harrold? If you went to Blenheim Horse Trials, you might have seen Super X Country’s stand in the tradestand village. With bespoke cross country colours as well as a range of technical clothing designed for time in the saddle, in a range of stunning shades, Super X Country is definitely a must-see if you’re looking for clothing with a difference. Now, without further ado, it’s over to Becci…
Tell us about you and your background
From school I went onto do my A-levels specialising in Textiles, IT & business. I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do, so I went to work for the family business after this, learning the locksmith trade. I’ve always been mad on horses and finally got my own pony when I was 9. Not coming from a horsey background was difficult, as I always had to push my parents to let me do things that were unknown to them so they were always on the cautious side! I finally got to event when I was 16 on my 14.2hh pony and that’s when I got the bug and my business idea started to form.
What made you want to start a business?
I have always loved business, when I was little I used to buzz off doing car boots with my family so I could sell! One of my best friends always reminds me when we were 13 I mashed up her grandma’s soap and re-moulded it into something else. And then went to sell it her as a new soap range!! We still laugh at it today, but the natural selling instinct is there, even though my day job is selling locks, keys and CCTV, I still enjoy it. Selling is selling. Naturally my business idea just came to me, I saw a gap in the market for a better choice of xc colours when I went shopping for some myself. I designed my own colours on my sewing machine, but it wasn’t until they had their first BE outing and lots of compliments that it hit me. I could actually sell these!
How is Super X Country different?
We developed our own unique designs from what was currently on the market. And now we offer custom colours in the fastest time scale so you can order them and have them for your next event. You don’t have to wait weeks. We make the silks in the UK, which gives us a great edge to be able to offer so many colours, designs and styles.
What makes your products special?
We can create such a personalise product, exactly how the customer imagines it. It’s so nice to see their own designs come to life.
I have come up with all my current designs and products myself. My new breeches are such a highlight to have been able to put pen to paper, draw them, find a manufacturer to get them made, test them, tweak them and then finally go to production. It was just unreal. Such an exciting journey to see them start to finish.
If you had to sum up Super X Country in five words, what would they be? Affordable creative technical equestrian apparel.
Do you have a motto or ethos? I always try to offer the very best customer service I possibly can, no customers – no business.
If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring business owner, what would it be? Believe and achieve. I am such a great believer in you get out what you put in.
One thing that helps you run Super X Country more effectively.
My iPhone, I couldn’t live without it. I am constantly on the go, answering emails whilst riding, uploading pictures on social media whilst in bed or eating tea! And printing off orders whilst at work for when I get home with my smart printer! It never stops. Instagram is also huge for us, so my iPhone is needed for that too!
Best thing about running a business?
Being able to take it in the direction you want to and make the final decisions.
Worst thing about running a business? For me its not been able to put 100% of my time into it.
Top business blog you follow. I must say the first business blog I’ve really followed is Rhea’s! Does watching the apprentice and dragons den count?!
Top business book you’ve read
I wish I had the time, definitely my next new year’s resolution! I tend to watch a lot of videos online, true story films & programmes on the TV!
One thing we might not know about you
I think I gave it away in an earlier comment, my full time job is a locksmith engineer.
Top business achievement
Selling to a royal at my second ever tradestand, and closely behind my first £1000 order to a customer.
Where can people follow Super X Country online
I’m very, very excited to be off to Blenheim today… well, I’m writing this on the Thursday night, but I’m off to Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials tomorrow (Friday), and I am very excited. I adore Blenheim- it’s one of my favourite events, and this year is a teeny bit more exciting…
Why is this year’s Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials more exciting than normal?
Well, not only have I been announced as an official Hiho brand ambassador (I mean, I am like a walking Hiho display most of the time as the Cherry Roller Bangle, Cherry Roller Necklace, Fairfax & Favor Charm, Foxtail and Snaffle Ring never leave my wrists, neck or hand!), but it gets better…
But it gets better…
Tomorrow, I will be doing my first Hiho Instagram takeover in this role. I have taken over Hiho’s Instagram before on a number of occasions, but as myself it seems a bit weird… and a bit exciting. And I’m really looking forward to it. I believe in Hiho more than I can express. I have been a fan of the company and the jewellery LONG before I started working for them, and have been actively promoting the brand and pieces, not just to the press and online world for years, but to my family and friends, and all over my social media channels.
And, in my view, that makes the difference
In my very humble opinion, a brand ambassador SHOULD love and wear the products that they are a brand ambassador for even when they’re not meant to…or they don’t have to. It should be interwoven into their own content as much as anything for the brand. Why? Because a brand ambassador should have a real affinity with the brand. I’m also relishing the opportunity to really get under the skin of the brand ambassador experience in a more public way. To try and test my theories first hand and to help better advise the influencers that I work with. Because if you don’t do it yourself, how can you?
Pop on over to Hiho’s Instagram page today and follow my story and posts from Blenheim Palace… it should be fun!
Karen McConnell, the lovely lady behind KA Equestrian has had a pretty amazing week. And I wanted to share it with you here. And also let you know that you can catch up on the action on her Facebook page and Youtube channel… and you really, really should!
Karen is a client and friend of mine and I am in awe of what she achieves most week. Not only does she run a livery yard, coach, ride, compete, blog, vlog and generally nail social media… she also has two small children and a lot of other things to do! This week, an extra element was thrown in… Blair Castle Horse Trials. And when I say element… well… it was a but more than that!
A bit about Blair Castle Horse Trials…
Although Blair properly started on the Thursday, the first horse inspection (also known as the trot up) happened on Wednesday afternoon. If you’re not familiar with horse terms, this is the stage of the competition that allows vets to make sure the horses are sound and fit to compete. But it’s a bit more than that. Over the years, the trot up at any of the big three and four star events has been the place to see what’s hot and what’s no so hot in the world of equestrian fashion and style. And Blair is no exception.
And now for some Hiho Silver…
Now, let’s just pop over to Hiho Silver for a minute (it’ll all make sense in the end, stick with me!). If you’ve been following Hiho Silver on social media, you’ll know that the company has sponsored the best dressed at Badminton, Bramham and Blair, and is also sponsoring Blenheim and Burghley (phew!). This sponsorship sees the company give the best dressed lady and gent a lovely prize. And Hiho’s King of The Road is part of the judging team too, with carefully selected people at each venue. At Blair, Andrew judged alongside eventer Paul Tapner and… can you guess… yes, Karen!
And back to Karen!
Karen has a great sense of style and is actually a Toggi Blogger… so you can just image how amazing her wardrobe is! Karen agreed to be part of the esteemed judging panel on the Wednesday, and is also due to be at Blair for the vast majority (if not all) of the event. She has some AMAZING content lined up with riders, sponsors, stand holders and more… I won’t spoil any of the surprises, but you MUST check out her Blair content. Everything I have seen has been superb… and it’s only Friday! There’s more to come!
The judging for the trot up at Blair Castle Horse Trials took place on Wednesday but the winner has only JUST been announced. The team posted a pic of the two winners and the two reserves and people had to guess who had won the accolade… big congrats to Sally Kidd and Craig Barr! Have a look at the outfits and prizes here.
I’m incredibly honoured to be able to share a bit of the magic that goes on behind some of the blogs I love – and today it’s all about Victoria Brant – creator of the blog Diary of a Wimpy Eventer.
Why did you start blogging?
I started my blog as a bit of a ‘self-help’ outlet. I was merely documenting my fears, my frustrations, my highs and lows. I wanted to vent to an audience that ‘got it’ and save my husband’s ears.
How do you measure its success at Diary of a Wimpy Eventer?
Success for me, is measured in how many people I am touching the lives of. I tend to judge this based on the volumes that privately message me, opening their hearts and disclosing their inner most fears when it comes to horses. I respond to around 30-40 private messages per week. Statistics have mesmerised me recently too, each post reaches around 30,000 people, with never less than 200 interactions – Success for me isn’t just about follower numbers.
Tell us about the post you’ve most enjoyed writing/has been the best received
The posts that I dearly love to write are the ones reviewing a particular issue (usually one I am secretly dealing with inside), everything is first draft and straight from the pit of my belly. The best received post by FAR, was the hunting post from January. Documenting my terror and then sheer elation start to finish. This post reached 67,000 people in 48 hours.
How you promote your Diary of a Wimpy Eventer?
I spend around £20 per month page boosting to over 300 target groups that I have individually selected on FB ads. I have ensured that I guest write for some big names, that not only improves your SEO by ‘freeloading’ off a bigger company, but it gets you noticed by people you may not have reached otherwise. I ALWAYS plug it on my commentator notes when I run BE, I have Wimpy Eventer on my XC gear and make sure I give recognition to every single share that I get, even if it’s just a ‘like’, Retention is JUST as important to me as acquisition.
Any tips you’d like to pass on to first time bloggers/people who are interested in blogging?
DO NOT SPEND ANY MONEY UNLESS YOU KNOW HOW TO SPEND IT. It is a TOTAL waste of a very nice bottle of wine unless you make the money work for you. Put in the time to VERY carefully select who you want to target.
Content is King – Stop posting cr*p that doesn’t breed emotion or engagement. If no-one can relate, no one will respond. – My BIGGEST bugbear!
Be honest – don’t try and be someone you’re not for the sake of an audience. People appreciate authenticity, copy cats are smelly rats!
Has anything ‘good’ come out of blogging?
Wow, has it ever! I have never had a lot of money to buy nice things, I now wear brands that I could have only dreamed of before September 2016. I love it when people come and support us at shows and the recognition you get when you’re out and about, essentially, just for being you. I have made some wonderful virtual friends that I can turn to for support, advice or just a chat.
I am writing my first book!! (It still seems so surreal) due to come out in May – this would NEVER have happened without the blog. I am finally doing something that is worthwhile, that is helping so many people and that I actually love with every inch of my person.
Find out more about Victoria here – you won’t regret it!