5 Minutes with Equisafety MD, Nicola Fletcher
This month we set some time aside to talk to Equisafety MD, Nicola Fletcher.
Here Nicola talks about how Equisafety first came about, development of the POLITE range of hi-viz rider wear and what it takes to stay ahead with material technology and design.
Also featured; How Charlotte Dujardin came to be brand ambassador and a little business advice for budding equestrian entrepreneurs.
- Can you tell us a little about yourself and where you’re from
I’m based on the Wirral which is where I work and travel the world from. Since a child I have been lucky enough to have a horses and this has been a huge help in building Equisafety.
- When, and how was, Equisafety first developed?
This all came about when I was the Design Manager for Portwest Clothing in Barnsley. I realised there was need for equine high viz that no one had for filled, so I created Equisafety in 1999 and never looked back. There was nothing like it on the market and I knew I could give equestrians what they needed. They just didn’t know it at the time!
- Equisafety is continually at the forefront of technology. How do you stay ahead of trend with design and material technology?
I have a Degree in Fashion and a Master’s Degree in Performance Sportswear and Technical Fabrics. I design everything from scratch. I know the market very well because I’ve had a horses all my life. I regularly visit fabric and forecasting trade fairs in Europe and China to make sure Equisafety is constantly bringing out new and innovative products. We also work with a number of mounted police forces who all need different products, which us great as I love design challenges and then that design is sold into the public sector
- How did the iconic ‘POLITE’ range of hi-vis range come about?
I designed the range when I was at a trade show. I was constantly hearing riders say “I look like a Christmas tree and they still cannot see me”. I love being given design challenges and knew I had to do something. The POLITE range was created in 2010 and is still the most effect and best-selling range there is on the market
- What items would you particularly recommend each horse and rider wear when hacking out?
If I was on a budget, I would recommend leg boots and a waistcoat as minimum. The leg boots are a great way of catching the driver’s eye and the block of colour (waistcoat) makes you stand out. If there was no issue with a budget, then a rug, leg boots, hat and jacket are the best as it shows the driver how ‘big’ you are. Please see my video on the web site about Bio Motion that will explain in more detail what I mean.
- What is your favourite item on the range at the moment and why?
I’m in LOVE with the new Luminosa Jacket. It’s 50/50 reflective and high viz, but best of all its reversible and has a reflective print, something we are going to look into more for A/W 2018.
- Charlotte Dujardin is sponsored by Equisafety. How tough was it to recruit one of the most well-known and respected riders in the industry and how has she supported the brand so far?
I first met Charlotte at Olympia 2 years ago and asked her if she would be interested in working with Equisafety. She came onto the stand to have a look at the range and thankfully liked what she saw. She could see the difference Equisafety has, and is making to road safety, and thought we would make a good team, she was right and we are now on our 2nd year of sponsorship and the future is looking very bright.
- If you were to give equestrians one piece of advice what would it be?
Never to compromise your safety and try to thank the drivers if they slow down for you. If you can’t take your hands off the reins, you can always nod or smile. I hear all too often that riders do not thank drivers. It is our responsibility to show drivers we are grateful, because the next time they come across a horse and rider that really does need the driver to slow down, the driver may not, due to his past experiences with the previous rider, THINK!
- What item could you not live without?
Probably my car, like most of us I guess. I’ve been able to go to all the major events in the UK, where I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from. Also my dressage saddle with big knees. My horse Oscar is a little spooky, so that gives me confidence when he is on his toes.
And finally a few questions for those budding equestrian entrepreneurs.
- How to do you spend your average working day?
I start work around 6am, answering emails from China as there is an 8 hour time difference. I try and get these emails sorted before I go to the stables, so that I have their answers for when I start work at 9am. My main role is the forward thinker, to keep the company growing and expanding into new exciting areas. The work then channels down the line to the other members of staff and then onto the end bit of sending the goods to the customer.
- What advice would you give to someone starting an equestrian business?
Whatever you decide to do you must always trade mark the company name and try to register any ‘new’ ideas. Never copy someone else’s work, that has happened to me time and time again and every company that has, has never made a success of it. Most importantly have a strong self believe in your own abilities, a passion for your product, plus dedication and realise that you will never work 9-5 ever again.
I have been running Equisafety for 18 years now and in that time I have never had a 2 week holiday, not because I could not, but because I had too many exciting things going on. If you love what you do, people will respond positively to it, which in turn gives you even more positive energy/strength. There is nothing more satisfying than when people wear/use your product. To me that is the biggest complement of all.
For the full range of products please visit equisafety.com