As part of our series profiling the finalists of the Business Champion Awards 2023 we spoke to Ella Jones, a finalist in the young entrepreneur category of the awards and founder of equestrian clothing company, Ancora Equestrian
What do you currently do at Ancora Equestrian?
Presently I’m just launching online the much awaited junior range of Ancora’s horse riding clothing range, so it’s been a busy lead up with photoshoots and the social media marketing build up to the launch.
I’m really excited to finally get this range added to our collection. Next then it will be back to the drawing board to get the mens range designed and tested.
Early in the year sees all the chosen trade stands to attend in 2023 booked at equestrian events across the UK. Last year saw the sales model tried and tested successfully so this year will include extra tour dates in the ‘out on the road’ diary
Words getting out fast that Ancora is the hottest new brand of affordable on trend equine clothing to hit the market. Customer following is very loyal once they discover Ancora’s range of boutique quality clothes
Ancora has a fabulous range of competition and stable wear clothes in some gorgeous colour combinations and customer feedback is that they wear well, wash well and don’t need ironing!
What was the inspiration behind your business?
Since I was in my early teens I always wanted to look fashionable in riding gear but it was always so expensive. I was the kid wearing hand me downs, making do in an uncomfortably hot tweed riding jacket.
I had a lightbulb moment to want to start an affordable range of boutique quality equestrian clothing while travelling after my A levels. I just decided ‘I was going to do this!’ Everyone should be able to afford to look great!
Who do you admire?
I’ve met a lot of small business owners at shopping villages at Equestrian events over the past year and it’s absolutely brilliant to build up friendships, network and give and get advice. I’ve 100% admiration for fellow entrepreneurs!
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
An awful lots happened in a short time.
I incorporated Ancora in 2018 but only really got stuck in and focused in 2020. In hindsight I should have done more in the first two years but I kinda believe everything happens for a reason and being a little older probably worked well to my advantage.
Back in 2018 I literally started with trialling just a few items so really not much funding was initially needed at all. Once I started selling I continually reinvested and reinvested profits to slowly but surely grow the stock levels. I’ve learnt so much by taking it very slowly at the beginning.
After a year off to concentrate on my showjumping riding I really got back into Ancora’s launch and managed to sell a few sport horses which I’d produced.
That set me up to trade at the shopping village at Londons’ The International Horse of the Year Show in Dec 2022 and it was going to be sink or swim at such a big event.
Thankfully I swam and that set me up to purchase a fitted out lorry to set up a mobile boutique shop which has enabled me to take Ancora to different geographical areas ‘on the road’ across the UK to raise Ancora’s Brand awareness to the horsey world.
It’s been an unreal journey so far and I’m lucky there’s not much I’d change to date.
What defines your way of doing business?
You do get some funny looks being a young girl who’s the boss of their own business. I’ve worked hard on networking and make sure I’m always polite and courteous to everyone. Respect I know needs to be earned.
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
This would be my personal check list to share with others starting out…
Be resilient as there’s always knock backs and setbacks along the way
Learn as you go along
Stay within budgets
Seek encouragement and advice
Keep things simple
Grow your network
Plan out your goals
Own your mistakes
Get a mentor
Don’t be over-fazed by your competitors. There’s plenty of room for everyone.
Get a bookkeeper or accountant and lastly be polite and keep smiling!
Ella Jones is a finalist in the Young Entrepreneur of the year category of the Business Champion Awards 2023