Hi I’m Storm, Director of Start a Storm and I am going to put a few of our clients under the spotlight. We will make them talk! We are going to find out some of the issues that they have faced in setting up a new company and what made them decide to go it alone.
Today I meet up with Dawn Roberts (MD of Dragon Equine) who has an amazing talent with horses and who is also good fun to be around.
Why did you set up Dragon Equine?
There are many retailers out there who provide ‘everything for the horse and rider’ and that’s fine, but I wanted to provide something different. A place where people could get a personal service and know that the products they buy are beneficial to the horse. I am a strong advocate of natural horsemanship and will not sell anything that I don’t believe falls into that ethos. That’s what makes us different.
It must be great having a business that is also your passion.
It’s great to have a business that your passion! I have been around horses since the age of 3 and once you have the ‘bug’ you’re in it for life! I get to talk horses all day and our customers love the fact that we are willing to chat to them.
Do you think that the strong ethics you hold concerning Natural Horsemanship gives customers confidence to choose your brand?
Absolutely! Customers sometimes come to us asking for certain products that we feel don’t fit with our natural horsemanship ethic. If this happens then we simply explain (diplomatically) the reasons why we don’t sell that product and 9 times out of 10 they ask what we use instead. This is great as it leads you into a conversation with the customer and this is how we build relationships with people and try to educate them towards using natural methods. There are people who say ‘that’s fine we will go elsewhere’, but to be honest that’s completely fine as we won’t ignore our ethics just to make a quick buck. People who buy from Dragon Equine are confident that the products we sell all fall into the realm of natural horsemanship and (most) respect that.
How do you feel that we answered your marketing and design brief?
To be honest, I was blown away by the whole concept. I didn’t want the usual ‘horsey’ design and that’s something that I knew from the start. You seemed to be able to interpret my ideas and develop them into this beautiful website which has the feel of everything we wanted to convey to our customers. Even down to the colours and the photography. I love it and I know our customers do to. Communication was great between us and I think what’s really important is that you listened and totally got what the company is all about before you started. Totally professional and great fun to work with too!
Do you consider the likes of facebook, Linkedin etc. (in fact the whole social marketing thing) help to grow and create brand trust?
These days, yes. If you have a presence on facebook, etc then people inevitably will tell you, and others, what they think of you. It’s really important for a business to have feedback from customers and sites like facebook, etc allow you to monitor feedback instantly. Social marketing as a whole is important for any web based business and we are working on creating a bigger presence. It’s also important for networking with other businesses and it’s great for building business relationships.
What is the most daunting aspect of running a busy business?
It’s got to be the responsibility of it all. Being your own boss means that you work long hours, you always take your work home, there’s only you to blame, the buck stops with you and if you don’t do it there’s no one else who’ll do it for you! That said, it does mean that you have total control and freedom to run the business the way you want. I love running Dragon Equine and the business itself has become a passion too. I would recommend it to anyone.
Who inspires you in the horse world?
There are many. Monty Roberts has got to be high on the list, I love his whole idea of educating people in non-violent horse training methods. I am a member of intelligent horsemanship, I’ve seen him several times and each time I learn something new. John francois pignon is another. He has the most amazing relationships with his horses all based on mutual trust and respect. There are some amazing you tube clips of him riding and training horses. Stacy Westfall is probably one of the best free riding women in the world, you have to see it to believe it. I must say that I don’t generally get that impressed by the competetive world. When I see someone riding and in full control without the need for a bridle or saddle, that’s impressive!!
And finally, who’s buff in the Natural Horsemanship world?
I guess it’s got to be Chris Cox. He’s an American cowboy become horse trainer who uses some great techniques. He likes rock music too!!
Now that’s what I call a buckle!
Dawn can be found at