Liz Hayman is the creative designer at the helm of leading British equestrian fashion brand, Equetech. In this exclusive interview, we ask Liz our burning questions to discover the person behind the brand.
AS HEAD DESIGNER OF A LEADING BRITISH EQUESTRIAN FASHION BRAND, WHAT SKILLS DO YOU NEED?
” I actually came from a saddlery background originally. I completed a HND in Saddlery Design & Technology but then fell into textiles, rather than saddlery, as I was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis in my hands. I used my pattern making skills and applied it to clothing rather than saddles. That said, whatever your background, you always need to listen to your customer’s needs, and create unique designs, which consumers recognise as your ‘trademark’, to stand out from others!”
TELL US ABOUT EQUETECH AND YOUR JOURNEY BEFORE AND WITH THE BRAND?
” I qualified as a master saddler in 2000, but couldn’t find a job. I felt too young to start up my own saddlery, so I decided to find an admin job, to gain essential work experience in the industry. This proved invaluable! In 2003, I then found a job working in the racing industry syndicate scheme. That was certainly different! By 2005, I landed a job at Equetech, as office manager. I worked for the company for two years before being offered a fantastic opportunity to purchase the brand.”
TO HOLD A HERITAGE OF OVER 25 YEARS IS AMAZING IN THIS DAY AND AGE – WHAT IS EQUETECH’S SECRET?
” Never take anything for granted. Work hard and always stick to your core business values. We offer a personal service to all of our customers. No one is just a number! We never attempt to imitate other brands and focus on creating unique pieces which our customers will want to wear. We believe all riders should have clothing that looks and feels good, which is why our focus on ‘real riders’ also applies to our clever design and generous sizing range. Whether you are size 10 or plus size, our designs are for you. We now go up to a UK size 24 as standard in our ladies range.”
WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR INSPIRATION FOR GARMENTS AND COLLECTIONS?
” I always look at fashion trends and think about I would like to wear. Our brand is very much fashion-led; however, our garments HAVE to be functional. Taking inspiration from the catwalk is great, but garments need to look good, withstand wear and feel great in the saddle. There is no reason why riding clothing has to be boring. Equetech customers will have seen our bold signature prints on garment linings, and it’s just one of the style details fashionable equestrians love.”
HOW DO YOU LIKE TO SPEND YOUR ‘ME’ TIME?
“Away from work, I love to spend time with my horse, Reggie, and walking my dog Vinnie at every opportunity! At home, I enjoy a glass of wine and a box of chocolates with my cat Lloyd suffocating me on the sofa!”
TELL US ABOUT YOUR HORSE AND YOUR RIDER/HORSE OWNING EXPERIENCE
” I have been riding since I was five years old, begging my ‘non-horsy’ mum, for lessons whenever I could. At 10, I worked at a riding school, to spend as much time around the horses as I could. When I was 14, I had the opportunity to ride a high-level schoolmaster, which taught me a lot. I purchased my first pony, aged 14 (a new forest pony called Humbug!). We had lots of fun, although I didn’t go down the pony club route, as I had no transport! After university, my grandmother brought me a foal, I named her Amber, and we did all activities over ten years, including a 60-mile riding holiday, which we both thoroughly enjoyed! Unfortunately Amber didn’t make the 16hh she was supposed to, only 14.3hh in the end, so I sold her to a friend of mine. I then purchased a three-year-old rescue mare in Spain, but unfortunately, during the breaking process, I had a nasty accident and broke my back and neck in four places. I then had nearly two years of recovery and decided to buy Reggie (my current horse) from Ireland when he was size months old, to give me time off riding. He is now five years old and stands at 18.2hh!! You can’t keep me off horses, but I’m not quite as brave as I once was!”
YOU’RE PASSIONATE ABOUT DESIGNING FOR RIDERS OF ALL SHAPES AND SIZES, TELL US ABOUT THIS QUEST?
“I am adamant that all riders should feel happy in what they are wearing, and not just be limited to a few styles that would ‘make do’! If you feel great, you feel more confident and perform better.”
DO YOU THINK BEING A FELLOW HORSE OWNER AND RIDER HAS HELPED WITH YOUR DESIGNS?
” Yes, definitely! I wouldn’t even begin to know what to design in other sports! I pull my knowledge and experience of being a rider and understand precisely what riders need from their riding wear and always aim to create fashionable, functional riding wear. ”
WHAT KEY TRENDS SHOULD FASHIONABLE EQUESTRIANS LOOK OUT FOR THIS SEASON?
” Our winter range is packed full of the latest fabrics and technology to ensure you stay warm and dry this winter. For example, our Alpha Long Quilted Coat is made from water repellent fabric, while feeling like a duvet to wear. Our cruelty-free Bio-Down technology ensures that you stay warm, without the bulk and weight, and being machine washable is very practical. Our Inferno Long Coat is our first-ever equestrian fashion heated coat; giving riders three levels of warmth, at a touch of a button! Simply plug your standard power bank, and you’re ready to go!”
TOP TIP TAKE-AWAY?
” Always find a garment that fits well and feels great. It will give you confidence, and where possible, try and upgrade what you would typically buy. It will last longer, and you will feel fabulous in it! “
For more information on the brand visit www.equetech.com