As I outlined my previous review, I was introduced to Spirithorse Designs with a bit of a warning from the Universe that I didn’t heed. I got an email from Angela back in February of this year and she was interested in Decidedly Equestrian writing about her business. We ended up deciding to work on some articles closer to the holiday season and agreed to get back in touch later in the summer. I made a note to myself to reach back out to her at the beginning of August on my calendar.
Fast forward many months and I lost Spice on July 31st. The next day, August 1st, I got a reminder from my calendar to reach out to Spirithorse Designs. If that’s not the universe at work in a big way, I’m not sure what is.
I am SO very excited to bring you this latest Company Spotlight on the fabulous Spirithorse Designs. I love the memorial items I ordered beyond my hopes. They really are incredibly beautiful and are very special mementos of my dear departed Spice. Please enjoy this interview!
What is your background and how did that lead to you creating with horse hair?
I was an office manager for an equine surgical clinic in Texas for 14 years. Helping my clients let go, when it was the hardest thing in the world to do, was the toughest part of my job. They would ask if I knew of anyone who created horse hair jewelry and at the time, there were not a lot of people creating pieces that were truly wearable, they were more for keepsakes than to wear.
I’ve always been artistic, so I figured I’d try it myself and it just snowballed from there! Once I realized I could make a living creating jewelry that would bring people such joy and comfort, I started researching and testing ideas because I knew I wanted to offer something different than what was currently out there in the market place.
How long have you been creating horse hair jewelry?
About 14 years now.
How long have you been in business with Spirithorse and how did you decide to start your business?
Spirithorse was born in 2006. I had a friend who dabbled in creating websites and I thought, why not? It wouldn’t cost a whole lot of money to get started, and I felt that I could bring something to the industry that wasn’t currently being offered. If it didn’t work out, no big deal!
Yes, it is my full time job, and I absolutely love it.
How do you get inspired to create a new design?
Many things inspire me. Usually it’s something a client says – oh I wish you had this, or I’ll see a necklace or bracelet in a store and think “Wow, that would make an awesome horse hair piece…how can I make that work?” Then I go home and play.
You have so many options available! How did you come up with the different styles you currently offer?
Having options is one of the main things I wanted to do when I began Spirithorse. In 2006, all the horse hair jewelry I found was thick, with western accents. I’m not a western girl, I prefer English disciplines, and I wanted to cater to that market, but also provide a wide range of items at different prices to offer something for every budget. And I personally prefer thin elegant jewelry.
My design influences are from my Celtic heritage – I love all things Celtic and knew I wanted Celtic knots to play a role as well, so my first “fancy” bracelet was the Bella Celtic knot bracelet. Plus, I love a challenge and knew getting horse hair to behave while making a Celtic knot would not disappoint! The horse hair photography mats came about because I don’t wear a lot of jewelry. You’ll rarely find me wearing anything I make just because I tend to forget to accessorize! I knew I wasn’t the only one and wanted to create something that was not jewelry and would be perfect for men and women.
What is your process to create a new piece of jewelry?
Good question! Once the idea comes, I will sketch it out with notes about what materials I want to use, how I think I need to do it. Then I will start experimenting. Once I have the first one made, I will wear it to see how it holds up or if I need to adjust anything to make the fit better. If that all goes well then it goes in the shop.
Is your work always commission, or do you sell some that aren’t memorial bracelets?
90% of my clients are for memorials, 5% are for gifts and 5% will use my stock of hair because they came across my work and think it’s cool.
Meeting fellow horse people and creating something so very special to them. I love being able to create something that touches your heart and brings comfort during such a difficult time. I also love designing new things!
Any parts you don’t enjoy quite as much?
I don’t enjoy marketing very much. It’s a necessary part of business, but sometimes I just don’t know what to say. So I usually let my clients say it for me 🙂
What is your history with horses? Tell me about some of the most important horses in your life.
I don’t remember how old I was when I got horse fever, but I know I begged and begged for riding lessons. I started riding when I was 8 years old (I was supposed to be 9, so don’t tell!) and that was it. Even though I had the most uncooperative Appaloosa mare I loved every minute of it. I didn’t grow up with horses though, so I’ve always ridden everyone else’s horses – from lessons on trainer’s horses, to the riding team in college, to working for an Arabian farm. You can always find a horse to ride.
I’ve had a couple horses that have meant a lot to me. Jack, a quarter horse that was my step father’s, taught me many things as we explored every corner of his property and went on endless trail rides every weekend. And then there was Shadow, a beautiful black and white Paint ex roping horse I took on to exercise when the riding school owned by one of my bosses didn’t have a trainer. I taught him Dressage and he taught me patience. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to buy him when the riding school closed, but I did know his new owner and was able to see him over the years grow into the happy and healthy horse I always knew he could be. He passed away about 3 years ago and when his owners contacted me to let me know, I cried with them. Shadow will always be the one that got away for me.
Sadly I still don’t have my own horse, but I still have hope!
Do you have anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have questions, or want something custom. I’m always ready to come up with new ideas!
You can learn more about Spirithorse Designs and order your own beautiful memorial item here! Right now the deadline for Christmas orders is November 19th (subject to change!).