Interviews, insight & analysis on Ecommerce

How We Built It: Sophie Mercer, Founder & Designer for Eqcouture, the equestrian sports luxe fashion brand

Give us the elevator pitch. 

Eqcouture is a sports luxe equestrian fashion brand that bridges the gap between budget and high-end designer equestrian fashion. Eqcouture offers high-quality, functional, designer-led garments at a competitive price point that all riders can wear and enjoy.

Tell us about your brand

For a brand that started as a small side-line hustle for horse owner and rider Sophie Mercer with just two boxes of riding leggings in the autumn of 2020, the British equestrian fashion brand, Eqcouture has rapidly become the hot new equestrian fashion brand on every equestrian’s lips. As well as being regularly featured in the equestrian media and being the label of choice for key equestrian influencers, Eqcouture is thriving. Sophie, who now works full-time for the brand, currently employs a creative team of five overseeing production, design development, communication and marketing, and has already built a solid and loyal customer base in the UK and overseas.

What inspired you to set up your company and setting your company up?

The bottom line was that I just couldn’t find what I loved at the price point I liked! I continually strive to add new additions to the collection to keep it fresh and on-trend. I was and still am, inspired by my husband (boyfriend at the time!) and his clothing brand Mercier. I watched this business struggle, develop and grow from the start and helped along the way. This lit a spark in me that I’d been keeping under wraps for a long time. I wanted something that was my own, to make my own decisions on whether they were right or wrong. I saw the determination it takes to build a brand and wanted to try it myself.

What goal did you have in mind for Eqcouture?

My main focus and something that was 100% set in stone from the outset was QUALITY, and I would settle for nothing less. There are far too many lesser-quality items out there which don’t last. From the beginning, I wanted Eqcouture to develop a good reputation for quality items, which I know it has! I also wanted to create high-quality items at affordable prices, again something we have achieved.

What was your biggest challenge in year one?

To be accepting that there are peaks and troughs! Good days and bad days! Because ultimately, your business is your ‘baby’, so you are bound to feel emotion towards it. However, when problems arise, you have to learn to get over them and carry on. This is something I struggled with at the start. I would become very disheartened, which would set me back a little. Now I’ve learnt to dust off, find a solution and carry on!

What would you say has been your biggest marketing success?

Our white competition riding leggings! I spent a considerable time sourcing the fabric and tweaking the design before I was 100% happy with them. In the equestrian world, white riding tights tend to have a reputation for being unflattering and see-through, but not ours! Our Competition Riding Leggings are hugely popular with riders, and they amassed hundreds of five-star reviews too!

What has been the biggest mistake you made?

Making mistakes along the way is a learning curve you must accept as part of your evolution and growth. Learning to reflect, realign focus and move on can be challenging but essential for success. One of the biggest hurdles to overcome in this industry is problems with manufacturing; you can test and test products again, keep all processes and materials the same, and then end up with a faulty batch of something unbeknown to you. This can be something so small during the manufacturing process that nobody knew about, which could lead to a catastrophic effect on the end product. This is a huge hurdle to overcome because you want to keep your loyal customers. When this happened in the early days of my business journey, we have been completely transparent and truthful with our customers & luckily, they have always understood, and we have been able to move on from it.

 Tell us about your plans for the future

I only have a few plans in place because the one thing that running this business has taught me is that you need to have plans in place, but not just one; you need plans A, B and C! My plan is always to be adaptable and agile and to keep evolving the brand. I always strive to bring out new innovative products and will continue to do so, and my long-term plan is to become a household name in the equestrian world.

How we Built it

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