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Get to Know Me

18th April 2022

Hello everyone, my name is Emma. I started my business at the start of April this year. I am a Society of Master Saddlers (SMS) qualified saddler and also have a BSc. (Hons) in Equine Science.

How it all Started

From very early on, I have always loved making and designing things. I was always drawing, painting and making all sorts of things out of fabric, cardboard, tape and glitter. My parents really encouraged my creativity and I have many fond memories of making a mess of the kitchen with my mum and dad. Art was always my favourite subject at school but I really struggled with maths and English. I was diagnosed with Dyslexia in primary school and this diagnosis really helped me to understand my difficulties as well as my strengths.

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School and University
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I continued my passion for art and design in secondary school studying art to Advanced Higher level and loved designing costumes for theatre as part of my final year assessment. I also enjoyed studying graphic design, woodworking and metalworking and won the end of year prizes for Technical subjects 2 years in a row. When applying for university, at first I wanted to study design at Art School, but decided that I wanted to pursue a career with horses instead. I went to Bishop Burton College and studied Equine Science, graduating with a first class honours degree in 2017. Despite my Dyslexia making university assignments a challenge, I was so proud of myself to win the university prize for the best honors dissertation project in my final year.

Emma's Rainbow Equestrian

When I was still at uni, I decided to start my first business, Emma's Rainbow Equestrian. I wanted to make ribbon showing browbands but couldn't find a cost effective supplier for the leather base to put the ribbon on, so decided that I would learn to make them myself. I attended a couple of short saddlery courses with a master saddler and learn how to make a simple belt, bridle and headcollar. After my first week, I was hooked on saddlery! It allowed me to combine my love of making with my passion for horses so it seemed like an ideal fit for me. I ran my first business for about a year, mostly selling browbands and belts online through Etsy. I learnt loads through this, even though I only just broke even, but it allowed me to get some basic tools, build on my saddlery skills and learn about running a simple business.

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Saddlery Apprenticeship

After I graduated university, I spent about a year applying for jobs and trying to decide what I wanted to do as a full-time career. Saddlery was something I was really passionate about but wasn't sure if it would be something that I would be able to do full time. I started writing to Master Saddlers in Scotland and the north of England to see if anyone would allow me to do some work experience. There are very few Master Saddlers in Scotland and at the time none of them were really able to help me.

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I widened my search and contacted Laura at Amayzing Saddlery who is a saddler and saddle fitter. She said I could come out with her when she was saddle fitting to see what she did. After a few months I started to work on some customer repairs that came into the shop and really enjoyed doing those. I started doing some more leatherwork and Laura asked if I would like to become her apprentice. I got funding through The Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST) for a 3 year apprenticeship with Laura and in that time I passed my City & Guilds (C&G) SMS level 2 and 3 saddle and bridle making exams, my C&G flocking exam and attended the SMS Introductory saddle and bridle fitting courses.

Working as an apprentice for Laura, I learnt so much and really built on my skills in saddlery and bridlemaking and began to go out to clients to do bridle fitting appointments. I became the main bench saddler at Amayzing Saddlery, carrying out all sorts of repairs and alterations to customers saddles and got to learn how to make a saddle from start to finish with George MacEachran at UK Saddlery. I entered the Worshipful Company of Saddlers National Saddlery Competition in 2021 with the first saddle that I made which was for my level 2 saddle making exam and was delighted to win 1st prize and a premium award in the Small Business Saddler Class.

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Starting My Own Business

As my apprenticeship was coming to an end, Laura and I decided that it would work great for us both if I was to set up on my own but continue working part time for her as a contractor. This set up has been working really well and has allowed me to spend the time to set up my own business. I am so excited for the future and have lots of plans for different things I would like to make for clients, so watch this space.

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