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Changing Leads

November 29, 2017 Dear Hobby Horse Customers, Fans, and Friends, Hobby Horse is changing leads! After more than 40 years in the lead here, I’m retiring at the end of...

November 29, 2017
Dear Hobby Horse Customers, Fans, and Friends,
Hobby Horse is changing leads!
After more than 40 years in the lead here, I’m retiring at the end of 2017. I am delighted, however, to hand over the reins of Hobby Horse to a new leader who loves this business as much as I do: Kristin Darnall-Titov. Here’s our story:
Kristin’s been a Hobby Girl since she was seven years old, when I made her first equitation suit (we both correctly recalled it was burgundy... Kristin still has the photo.) Kristin has modeled in dozens of our catalogs, and graced our covers eight times- she’ll be familiar to many of you. Throughout her riding career (from determined little girl through showing in the equitation and trail arenas on the west coast, and now as a top-20 NRHA non-pro) Kristin has worn Hobby Horse and always stayed in touch with both me and the company. Part of the fun of running this business for so long, for me, is seeing “my kids” grow up, and more than a handful have made me proud. Always determined and focused, Kristin is one of those people who always has a plan, who sets goals and achieves them, who finds a way. She leased and groomed and catch-rode horses while saving up for her own, and then bought and sold those horses, no matter how beloved, to keep moving towards her dreams. Kristin and I come from similar backgrounds. Both of our single-parent mothers were school teachers who did all they could to make show ends meet. Where my mom Mary Lou made costumes for haunted houses to buy my first show saddle, Kristin’s mom Lynell worked at a fast-food joint after her teaching day ended to get her daughter to all the shows in the circuit. Our moms supported our horse hobby... and these great ladies later became dear friends, discussing the many adventures of their horse-crazy daughters. While I was growing Hobby Horse from a home-based business to a respected brand known around the world, Kristin went to college and then built a career in retail management and Human Resources. She learned about business, and people, and incidentally worked for a world-famous fashion brand that taught her even more about couture and competition. And all along, Kristin rode. She rode, and practiced, and like most of us, had her heart broken and mended by a series of horses that each, in hindsight, played a perfect part in Kristin’s development as an equestrian. For more than 30 years, Kristin’s path and mine crossed often. We’d see each other at parties, and sometimes at shows. She always sent me a beautiful Christmas card, often with a handwritten update on her showing and career. We texted and talked, and we’d usually have lunch a couple times a year to catch up, including last summer when I asked Kristin “I’m thinking about retiring; do you know someone who might be interested in Hobby Horse?” After a long pause, Kristin said “What about me?” Even with all our years of friendship and involvement with showing and Hobby Horse together, I was a little surprised by Kristin’s response that day... I think she was too! But then we realized how much she already knew about the business from being a life-long customer and helping me with marketing projects, and how much I knew about her strengths: Kristin is smart, kind, organized, and creative. And Kristin’s brave, something a small business owner needs to be: I call her Miss Moxie because of her strong character and confidence. Kristin inspires me. Since that lunch discussion, we talked about Hobby Horse and Kristin’s ideas for the business, but until quite recently the timing wasn’t right for either of us to pursue a transition. And now it is. Ask any entrepreneur: it’s very hard to find the right person to take over your business that you’ve raised from a seed. It’s a financial choice, sure, but it’s also an emotional decision: who can I trust to keep things going, who will take care of my customers and my employees, who will keep the good and update the things that are ready for change? Who will respect what I’ve built, but take it forward in ways that I cannot? Sometimes, if you’re lucky, the right person appears at the right time. That’s what happened with Kristin and Hobby Horse: we figured out the details, my terrific colleagues supported our plan, and now Hobby Horse is set to continue under the capable, caring, inspired leadership of Kristin Titov. Thank you to each and every Hobby Horse customer and friend; you have taught me what I needed to know over the years and you’ve helped me build a wonderful business. And welcome Kristin; I’m so very pleased that Hobby Horse is changing leads with you. Happy Trails, and Good Luck!

Hobby Horse Clothing Co. Inc.


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