A Speewah-based company has been achieving such extraordinary local and international success that Google Shopping stopped accepting their customer feedback because they were receiving so many 5-star reviews.
Colleen Jackson is a long-time avid horse rider, but she said that as a middle-aged woman she struggled to find suitable clothing that allowed her to feel confident and comfortable on horseback.
Instead of letting this get in the way of her passion, Colleen recognised her own need as an opening in the market and used the opportunity to create Ride Proud Clothing, offering comfortable and durable riding pants for women.
“I’d been a home sewist forever, so I knew what was possible,” said Colleen. “Because I’d been in the industry for a while, I was able to look around and see that there were other women in the same position as me, so there was a market opportunity.
“I was trying to scratch my own itch, but I could also see an opportunity for business there.”
Colleen and her husband Colin spent the next 12 months working on their designs and finding manufacturers that not only produced good quality clothing, but that also aligned with their own company values.
“Bringing the product to market took a long time,” she said.
“We travelled to Europe and went to the largest trade show in the world for equestrian gear. We found a couple [of manufacturers] and we had samples done with them.
“Our second trip was to India to meet the manufacturer and go through the factory, just to make sure that we were happy with the quality of the product, but also happy with the quality of the working conditions for the workers over there.
“Once we were satisfied with all of that, that’s when we brought it to market.”
In the three years since Ride Proud first went to market, Colleen said the couple have doubled their revenue year on year.
On top of that, a recent expansion beyond the national scope to the US and Canada saw the two countries become 50 per cent of the company’s sales over the past few months.
“I’m absolutely blown away,” she said. “I’m so humbled that it’s a massive country
over there, and they’re buying riding pants from little old me in the wilds of North Queensland.
“I sent an order last week that was addressed to the North Pole! To be shipping pants to Alaska just blows my mind.”
Colleen attributed their success to a piece of advice she received from a friend and fellow businessperson.
“She said to me, ‘It’s not about sales, it’s about building relationships’. I heard that, and I grabbed hold of it, because I may not know how to sell, but I can build a relationship.
“I treat every one of my customers as important and valued. Put it this way, Google Shopping won’t accept our reviews because we have too many five-star reviews.”
Despite their extraordinary success so far, Colleen said there is still so much more she wants to achieve.
“There’s an old saying, ‘A niche is an inch wide but a mile deep’. We’re going to stay in our niche and just bring more of our product to market.
“We’ve only just scratched the surface really.
“I’ve got so much more I want to do; I’ve only just begun.”
Connect // rideproudclothing.com