28 May 2020
Victoria Jenner, who runs her own equestrian embroidery business, talks about being a small business owner during a pandemic and sewing a bit of joy.
Victoria studied BSc (Hons) International Equine and Agricultural Business Management at the Royal Agricultural University (RAU), graduating in 2002.
In 2014 she began her own business, Stitched Equestrian, which offers bespoke equestrian embroidery including saddlecloths, rugs and clothing for horses, riders, staff and supporters.
Following the outbreak of coronavirus a number of UK equestrian events were cancelled or postponed and riders were also urged by the British Equestrian Federation to stay out of the saddle.
“It has been a worrying time and had an impact on my business,” admits Victoria. “But I have been surprised to still be getting interest in my embroidery products and jackets, there are people still placing orders.”
Victoria believes one reason for this is that a lot of people are still wanting to support small businesses. “I do think people are recognising the importance of small businesses, locally and online, and making the effort to support them where they can,” she says. “Be this ordering gift vouchers, leaving positive reviews and recommendations, or continuing to buy their regular products ready for when this is all over. I’m grateful, because it means I’m lucky enough to be able to stay open for business.”
Being proactive online is something Victoria believes has also helped her. “People are at home and online a lot more, searching for things and also staying connected, so I’ve been making sure I’m still ‘talking’ on social media to my existing customers and followers, with posts and videos,” she says.
It was one of Victoria’s videos that also opened up an opportunity for her to offer something different to her usual branded products.
“I wanted to cheer myself up so I printed a sweatshirt with ‘Socially Distant’ on it in colourful lettering,” she explains. “I’d worn it in one of my videos and suddenly a lot of friends and people on Facebook were contacting me wanting to know where I’d got my jumper from.”
Since then Victoria has been busy with orders for her printed jumpers. “I have done little pieces just for fun in the past, which are an aside to my key business, so it’s nice that these have proved popular, she says. “I think people just want something jolly and light-hearted, to cheer them up right now. I’ve had people sharing photos of them wearing their jumpers which is really lovely.”
Thinking back about her studies at the RAU, Victoria enjoyed the variety of the content on her course. “It kept it interesting and being able to go on trips to Europe and the USA were a great adventure. I’d say the degree course definitely think gave me a rounded experience with skills to progress in a variety of different directions. As I was never completely set on what I wanted to do, I opted for a course where I could study things that were genuinely of interest to me,” she says.
After going on to study law and qualify as a barrister after graduating, it was Victoria’s continued interest in equine that led her back to the industry.
She said: “Starting my own business and doing something that I am passionate about was much more rewarding. I love seeing the professional riders wearing my work and I still wake up every day excited to get cracking!”