Spice had a little issue come up that was being troubled by his dressage boots, so my solution was to switch to polo wraps. On my search for polo wraps that were both sturdy and stylish I found the beautiful custom creations from Hopkins Show Prep! I’ve been SUPER impressed with these and was inspired to do a Company Spotlight to feature this awesome small business and it’s owner Emma Hopkins!
Tell me a little bit about Hopkins Show Prep. What was your inspiration?
Hopkins Show Prep has been in business for just over a year! I started out clipping and braiding for an employer about five years ago. After several years of practice on her horses and the news that I was going to be moving away soon, I decided to open my services up to everyone. Around the same time I got the idea to try my hand at making polo wraps. We used them every day for the training horses, and I was frustrated with the limited color options and honestly low quality of the Velcro and fleece.
Is Hopkins Show Prep your day job? If not, what else do you do?
Starting out I was working two other equine industry jobs, typically 5 days a week. My husband and I just moved this September and I had to step away from those two jobs. The house we bought has a small barn and beautiful property that was already a boarding facility! So I now manage/own my own boarding facility, along with clipping and creating products for Hopkins Show Prep.
How many products did you start with?
I really started out with just polo wraps, mainly solid colors with ribbon. I had a big dream of doing custom colors and dyeing them myself. I soon learned that it is a ton of work to dye your own fleece, and much more cost and time effective to just buy it.
What makes Hopkins Show Prep different?
I create polos and products that I would want to buy. I try to make them durable and pretty. Creating custom orders is a lot of fun, and I feel that I am pretty quick at getting things done and in the mail for customers to enjoy.
How do you decide what products to sell? What is your development process?
My lesson students at the beginning were my biggest supporters. They constantly send me pictures of prints that they love or colors they want. I also look at the newest prints to be released on the fabric websites and choose my favorites. I have found a way to use up the scraps from cutting polos and make the three yards go a little further. My stirrup iron covers and the saddle covers are all products of left over polo material. I had several people ask me to start offering bling brow bands, and so I have taken that task on and am loving it!
Do you have plans for new products in the future?
Not at the moment, but I am always open to ideas!
What is your background and how did it lead to you starting Hopkins Show Prep?
My grandmothers, mom and step-mom all taught me how to sew when I was a child. Just recently my childhood sewing machine created its last polo wrap before the motor went out. I purchased a new machine for the first time in my life. I have been in the horse industry for 20 years, so I have previous experience with all the products I create.
After high school I was dual enrolled at Linn-Benton Community College and Oregon State University. In 2011 I received my Bachelors in Animal Science (emphasis in Equine Science) and my minor in Agricultural Business Management. I married my husband in my senior year of college, and after graduation I moved to San Diego where he was stationed. There I attended Equissage and received my certification for Equine Sports Massage Therapist.
What is your equine story?
I have been riding horses my whole life, but I got really serious about them 20 years ago. Started with riding lessons, which led to leasing and joining 4-H. Fifteen years ago my parents bought me a beautiful bay Thoroughbred gelding named Bruin. I still own Bruin today!
Less than a year ago I acquired a second horse, bay Arabian gelding named Tango. Although I feel like I’ve owned 20 horses these two are the only ones legally mine. I also have been given my mom’s Paint gelding, Joe. Bruin and I competed in schooling shows and 4-H all through Jr. High and High School. In college, I did show a friends horse in Dressage, and 5 years ago I showed a Percheron gelding at several local schooling dressage shows. This year I am excited to show my new gelding Tango in Dressage.
Which horses have been the most important in your life?
Bruin, always Bruin! He was a feisty 8 year old OTTB when we met. I was the first to show him, and we had some really good shows and some really not good shows. I learned the most about horses and riding from him.
Describe a typical day running Hopkins Show Prep.
If it is a clipping day, the night before I make sure all my blades are clean and oiled. Then I grab my dog and head out to the client’s location and clip. For sewing, I usually try to create one product a day if I don’t have a custom order. That usually happens in the mornings after feeding and turning out horses or in the evening after dinner. Every evening I try to post something on social media – a new product or showing what just shipped out
What parts of running Hopkins Show Prep do you find challenging?
Getting fabric. At our new house the closest store is about 40min away and shipping takes 6-10 days. Ordering Velcro takes a while too, so just keeping up on my stock and ordering new fabric when I need it but not overwhelming my store with items people aren’t buying is a big challenge.
What parts of running Hopkins Show Prep do you find rewarding?
I love customer photos! Most online orders there is no interaction – the purchases comes through, print a shipping label, drop off at the post office, done. Receiving pictures after people have received the product or reading reviews is really fun. I also love when my color choices or different combos that I have put together are a hit. I don’t consider myself an artistic person typically, so when a ribbon and polo combo turns out beautiful I am very proud!
Where do you see Hopkins Show Prep in 5 years?
I would love to see my products in a store! Either in my own online store, or somewhere local. This year I am going to try and have a table to sell at local horse shows, but to have a consistent place where people can physically view my products would be amazing. I would also love to be busy enough to hire someone to help me. Right now it’s a one woman show.
Who is the Hopkins Show Prep customer?
Someone who is looking for a way to stand out, but quietly. I do carry the bold and bright colors, but most of the prints and colors I am drawn to are just quiet, classic and pretty. Someone who is tired of the options sold at the local tack store and wants something one of a kind. Let’s be honest…our horses are one of a kind, so their polos should be too!