I am pleased to present another California based equestrian business: EquiFUSE! Allyson and Beki opened EquiFUSE in 2010 after meeting at a boarding facility and lamenting over the less than stellar product lines available on the market. They decided to do something about it and the rest is history. I interviewed Allyson to get the details of how EquiFUSE came to be.
Allyson shared the story of EquiFUSE with me: I started EquiFUSE a few years after I received my B.S. from Santa Clara University in Business Management. I have ridden horses for fun and competitively since I was 8 years old, and have honestly been horse obsessed since birth. My parents owned race horses when I was a toddler. I knew from the very beginning that horses had my attention and my heart. After graduating college I met Beki through our local boarding facility, and she would help me with grooming my horses from time to time. As grooming fanatics, we both were disappointed by most horse products available at the local tack stores. We wanted products that would help to combat dryness, dander and itchiness, and no horse product was successfully doing that. There had to be something better out there, right?!
Our desire was deliver a product line of shampoos, conditioners and detanglers with more natural aspects and most importantly, promote health and shine to the coat, mane and tail. I’m not sure if we shook or spit on it, but in July 2010 EquiFUSE officially opened into wholesale and retail sales! Our intention was to begin with a moisturizing detangler that we hoped could change the way horse owners care for their horse’s mane and tail. This serum would be recommended to be used daily on the mane and tail just like a human moisturizer for the face. That first product is EquiFUSE Gleam Moisturizer + Shine serum.
Beki’s background was in marketing, accounting and business management. Previously she worked as a Buyer and Store Manager at a Bay Area based tack store where she made all the purchasing decisions for the store. She knew how a buyer thought, and knew all the secrets to presenting a new product line to a tack store.
Both of my parents are Cosmetic Chemists and co-owned a chemical distribution company dedicated to working with some of the biggest hair care companies in the world. The cosmetic chemists in their labs were working on any type of personal care product you can imagine including anti-aging creams, hair color stay technology, body washes, and so much more. To me, these chemists are like “chemical artists,” as they have so many raw materials (ingredients) to work with and can concoct a product based on what you want it to look, feel and smell like. Then as avid horse-back riders and owners, Beki and I put these products to the test. Each product we would begin testing on our own horses to decide whether we thought the product was satisfactory. If we liked it, we then would put together a large focus group of horse owners all over the U.S., with all types of breeds, colors. Each participant would be asked to use the new product and complete a detailed written survey. Each product in the EquiFUSE line went through this process, and in the end, the final decision came from our survey participants! These participants were a majority of people who do not use EquiFUSE, and the rest were familiar and using our line.
EquiFUSE was different than other products on the market from day one. We use quality ingredients with many essential oils, vitamins and proteins to enhance the look, feel and health of the hair. Our entire mission was to develop a product line to “do” what they said they would do. In addition, we have had the privilege to work with one of the most advanced cosmetic laboratories on the West Coast. My father once said, formulating hair care products is just like baking. For example, a Chips A’ Hoy chocolate chip cookies don’t really compare to the taste of a bakery fresh chocolate chip cookie. By using a more advanced recipe and quality ingredients, we believe we have achieved a product that delivers enhanced results.
A quick discussion of their product line revealed that it is likely now complete with their newest released product. With a product line of 7 products, we believe we have finalized our product line with EquiFUSE Shine Perfect + Shine Spray. With over 4 years of research and development, a.k.a trial and error, we nailed this formula late in 2014! Since we first launched Gleam Moisturizer + Shine serum, customers desired a spray that could be applied all over the body. We launched EquiFUSE Shine in early July 2015, and we could not be more excited to offer this product to the equestrian community!
Horses are still an integral part of Allyson and Beki’s life. They both grew up horse girls and they plan to keep it that way. I was horse obsessed from the moment I met a horse. When we owned race horses, my mother said she she never got to watch one race because as a toddler I was enamored with the backside of the track. I wanted to hand out carrots and pet the horse, not watch them from afar. At the age of 8 I had my first English riding lesson, and since then I have never taken a break. In high school I competed heavily in the junior hunter division and won some prestigious awards on the Southern California A’ circuit. In college I stepped out of the competition realm and started riding and training young horses, and that is what I continue to do now. Today I own 2 horses including my 10 year old Holsteiner mare Tory and my 3 year old American Warmblood Felix. I ride both the hunters and the jumpers now, but compete infrequently. My passion is managing EquiFUSE and riding my horses at home!
My current mare Tory has become the most important horse in my life. My mom purchased her as a 2 year old for me as a gift in hopes she would be my “next big” competition horse after my junior horse. She has been my competition horse, but with all her great breeding and unbelievable talent, she continues to be the most difficult horse I have ever ridden. She has dumped me in more ways than 20, has an opinion like no other, but we have 1 common goal; she loves to jump! She is a horse that a good day means you rode your absolute best, and she humbles you with every attempt. I have had trainers give up on her and tell me she is worthless, but that has never stopped us. Eight years later, she still can be a difficult ride, but I know her like the back of my hand and she knows me. She is difficult and I have appreciated her teaching me to never give up, and work hard for everything you get.
Beki also rode and competed horses in both vaulting and dressage from a very young age. She does not own a horse currently, but I know she has a plan up her sleeve to get one soon!
A typical work day for Allyson and Beki at EquiFUSE goes a bit like this: It begins with lots of emails and phone calls. I talk with Beki all day everyday via Facebook messenger, multiple email accounts, text message and then phone. Because Beki lives in the Bay Area and I live in Los Angeles, communication daily is extremely important as Business Partners. In addition to sales calls and working with our 300+ Dealers, I am heavily involved in the manufacturing of all of our products. I manage our inventory and process all retail and wholesale orders. Many days a week I am visiting with our outside manufacturing plant and discussing plans for future orders, pick up dates and coordinating when and what we need.
Beki works heavily in sales and communication with EquiFUSE Dealers and runs all company marketing, branding and promotions. She works daily with different Show Coordinators/Organizers to help sponsor events and/or make donations of our samples and products.
Both Allyson and Beki pick Rehydrinse 1-Step Coat Conditioner + Protector as their favorite EquiFUSE product. From the first time we tested this product, Beki and I were blown away from the results. In one rinse using Rehydrinse the hair is transformed from brittle to soft and dull to shiny. I am very into “instant” results, and EquiFUSE Rehdrinse gives the same great results every time.
Beki says, “Rehydrinse is a game changer, it’s capabilities for providing phenomenal shine and cutting grooming time cannot be beat.”
When discussing the most challenging and most rewarding aspects of running a business like EquiFUSE, Allyson had this to say. The most challenging aspect of managing EquiFUSE is the patience involved in the growth of a small business, and not being everywhere every equestrian wants you to be! We started EquiFUSE with a passion for horses, Gleam and a credit card. Five years later, we are so grateful to manage the business we have today, but we still have so much ground to cover. We are just now becoming widespread in the United States, and we have hopes of routinely advertising in the top 5 magazines and attending prestigious international FEI rated events, but this will take more time.
The most rewarding aspect of our business is our customers and their horses! I live for the emails and phone calls to tell us how our products helped them win a championship at their recent show or shared photos of how beautiful their horse looks when they show up at the barn the day after they bathed them. It truly makes any hard day worth it, and encourages me to keep spreading the word about our products. These products were created by equestrians and for equestrians.
For more information on EquiFUSE and to purchase some of their fantastic products you can check out their website here. Look for future reviews from Decidedly Equestrian of both EquiFUSE Gleam and Rehydrinse. I can’t wait to share my thoughts on these unique products.