Here's a little recap of the incredible journey we have had over the past 5 years!
Many of you may already be familiar with the story of our Founder, Erin starting the brand whilst she was studying full time at University and riding competitively for Great Britain as a dressage rider. Despite having no knowledge of product design or running a business, with the help of Google and her family (plus lots of hard work) Black Heart was created. The company was amongst the early group of equestrian brands using the entrepreneurial Business to Consumer (B2C) model of trading directly through a website rather than having a shop or selling through retailers. With low overheads through not having expensive premises and staff, this meant that we could pass on the savings to customers.
BHE finally launched in August 2017 with a selection of hoodies and teeshirts. Our Flex leggings, base layers and breeches didn't arrive until November, several months late due to the endless samples, redesigns and tweaks, rides and washes we did to get these just right! The fact that everything has always been thoroughly tested in the saddle before going to production has been a major factor in our product development and brand growth.
Erin packing orders whilst trying to do her university work!
The equestrian market in 2017 was still quite conservative with few colour options. We started with just 4 colours of leggings and long sleeved base layers, playing it safe with classic colours - black, royal blue, light grey and burgundy. That didn't last long and we now have about 20 options plus seasonal colours. Over the past 5 years, our leggings and base layers have become popular worldwide and have changed the look of the equestrian world, we have led the way with our unique colours and also our matchy matchy looks!
Our first photo shoot in black and royal blue, winter 2017.
The months we spent perfecting the Flex leggings and base layers was time well spent as our leggings and base layers are the same today as when we first launched them and are our best selling product of all time!
Breeches have been a labour of love and we've created three different styles of breeches trying to get them just right. Taking all the customer feedback on board, last year we finally launched our incredible Cara Hybrid Breeches. We didn't want to add silicone grip to our Flex leggings as many of our customers wear them for the gym and other activities plus not everyone likes having grip. However we wanted an option with grip and so the Cara Hybrid was born! They look like breeches with the front zip and tailoring yet have the stretch and comfort of leggings! If you haven't tried them yet, they are absolutely incredible. As you would expect from BHE we have more colour options in production of course!
It's still a mystery why someone (Erin!) thought it was a good idea to do our first ever 'pop up shop' at Olympia a few months after launching. It's one of the biggest and highest level shows on the circuit, over 12 hours a day for 6 days. Not the easiest show for a beginner but naively we thought, why not?! It was very special as it was the first time we had actually met our customers and seen the products being tried!
Five years later we are a little more experienced and currently attend Olympia, HOYS, Royal Windsor and YHL with plans for more next year.
Glow Up: Olympia 2021 (London International Horse Show)
In five years we have developed a wonderful community of riders and followers and now Black Heart has almost 150,000 followers on Instagram! We have 70,000+ followers on Tik Tok and our Pinterest account has over a million views each month! Thank you to each and every one of you who has followed, liked or commented on any of our accounts :)
Always creating content
With a starting marketing budget of £0 all of the content and photos has been created in house using family and friends. We are so very grateful to everyone who has contributed images, especially those who have tirelessly posed for photos for us!
🖤 Amelia, Isobel, Anoushka, Bailey, India, Aela, Alicia, Rebecca, Cara, Ellie, Augustine, Harrison, Ava and of course our OG from the first ever shoot, Eby 🖤
Eby, Erin & Aela making Tik Toks
Black Heart Team
We have a small but incredibly hardworking team here at Black Heart HQ! We have been expanding over the past year and still create all of our photography, Tik Tok and social media posts in-house. We made the decision to keep picking and packing orders from our HQ rather than go to an impersonal fulfilment centre, even though we've had to have two shifts a day during the busiest months! We have hopelessly outgrown our current premises again - both offices and warehouse and literally had to repossess the meeting room for overflow stock!
Our customers are the life blood of our company and we thank you all - from Tasmania to Mexico, America to Thailand, Singapore to Iceland and all over the world! Brexit has brought some major challenges with customs and shipping and we are very grateful to those who have stuck by us! We have kept our prices the same as when we first started to hopefully offset some of the additional costs when buying from the EU.
Team GB rider Ellie McCarthy
The Next Few Years
We have lots of plans and ideas for our product range and the brand over the next few years. We are beyond excited to have a junior range of flex leggings and base layers launching in the next few months plus a very exciting Limited Edition collection!
We are continually working our environmental and sustainability practices and the Black Heart Depop account has been a hugely successful way to repurpose sample items, products with minor imperfections and surplus stock. We are in the process of becoming a Brand Partner with the RDA (Riding for the Disabled) and have some great community and customer initiatives in the pipeline!
Looking forward to seeing what the next 5 years will bring!
Love, Team Black Heart 🖤