Believe it or not Hansen Equestrian was not something I had always dreamed of doing as a career. But through some good ideas, good timing and good connections here I am and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else now. I have been obsessed with horses my whole life. Who knows where it came from because no one in my family was involved with horses in any way.
Luckily I was insistent enough that my parents caved and sent me to horse camp when I was six and I’ve been obsessed ever since. Nowadays I’m a hunter rider at heart but I have a lot of respect for every discipline. I first started riding consistently in North Carolina but have spent the rest of my riding career here in Ontario. I’ve ridden on both the Trillium and A Circuit as well as the Ontario University circuit. My favourite place to be is in the show ring.
The first time the idea of Hansen Equestrian entered my mind was in my grade ten entrepreneurship class. The ISU for the class or main project was obviously to come up with your own business. The tasks included things like making up a letter head, logo, a vision and purpose of the business, describing the target market, making a very simple website, rough business plan and completing a “take your kids to work day” that related to our industry. My idea was to own a shop in Aurora where people could come and custom design their own horse blankets and I would make them. At the time the business was going to be called Equine Design. I had decided that there was a serious need for this type of business because the Equestrian world has been a fashion icon for generations and yet our horses (the main focus of our existence as an industry) are walking around in the same navy wools, the same plaids and a variety of other questionable looking blankets.
I decided to complete my “take your kids to work day” with my Aunt and Uncle. They own a company called Bowsers Pet Products and a large manufacturing facility in Mississauga. Their company makes very luxurious dog beds and accessories. I got to learn about some of their machines, how the process works from rolls of fabric to a finished dog bed and all about the exceptional quality and craftsmanship that goes into their products.
I explained my idea to my aunt and she let me spend part of my day working on a quarter sheet and a saddle pad that I could bring back to my class for my final presentation.
I ended up doing really well in that class and had much more fun than I ever thought, but at the end of the semester it was just a project and life moved on. I graduated from high school in 2007 and was accepted to Brock University for Recreation and Leisure studies with an Honours in Inclusive and Therapeutic recreation.
After my second year, I decided to spend my summer being a student painter….. Worst idea ever! I have never hated a job more. We never had any jobs and even when we did the pay was nowhere near enough to fund a decent show season! Needless to say, I must have done a lot of complaining about it because even my aunt heard how miserable I was. It was her who suggested the idea of starting that company I had thought about all those years earlier. The horse blanket company.
I couldn’t find a reason not to do it and I honestly wasn’t convinced it was possible but I decided I might as well give it a try. At the very least it would hopefully give me a little extra money to pay for my riding.
And that’s how it all started. Being older I had changed my vision a little bit now that I was working with a realistic opportunity. I decided to change the name to Hansen Equestrian because all of my horsey friends call me Hansen (it seems every other girl in my generation is also named Sarah) and I wanted it to be very clear that this is a horse related business.
My vision was to bring some style and flare to our equine friends but still maintain class, quality and functionality.
I spent almost a year designing and re-designing my first collection to make sure everything was perfect. I wanted to solve all the problems I could think of in the blankets I was currently using before I launched the first Hansen blanket in January of 2010. Since then I have developed a full line of products and I’ve got many more on the way.
I am so grateful to my friends, family and customers who have supported me along the way. I appreciate any kind of feedback, suggestions or ideas that are offered and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Hansen Equestrian.