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 Episode 14

Chatting With Jen Wood About the EQ Business Women Summit

by | Jan 17, 2020 | Guest | 0 comments

I started my businesses and thought it would be nice to have a mentor, but I didn’t know how to get one. I didn’t know what the relationship entailed or how to ask someone who I admired to work with me. So many incredible women work in the equine industry, and they have so much insight to give.

Hosts & Guests

April Hardeman

Laura Langfitt

Jennifer Wood

 

 

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About This Episide

The Story Behind Equestrian Businesswomen from founder Jennifer Wood

 

I started my businesses and thought it would be nice to have a mentor, but I didn’t know how to get one. I didn’t know what the relationship entailed or how to ask someone who I admired to work with me. So many incredible women work in the equine industry, and they have so much insight to give.

I thought, “what if we had a conference where we could bring everyone together to talk about that and share ideas and have a community?” It grew from there. At the 2018 equestrian festival, I invited 20 women out to dinner and asked them what they thought of the idea.

Across the board, it was 100% positive. They all felt like they wanted something like that. I spent the next year planning, and we had the first summit in January 2019. We ran it in conjunction with the US equestrian annual meeting, which was in West Palm Beach.

It was just really cool to be able to reach out to lots of different women and bring them together to share insights and tips, and make new friends, foster business opportunities. 

I’m pleasantly surprised and excited about the future of it based on the reactions of the first summit and where I can see it growing.

The 2020 Summit Details

This year we changed dates, coasts, and venues. I couldn’t do it again in January because I’m on maternity leave. I had to adjust and push it back and find a big event that I thought could be cool to work around and would bring people together from different disciplines and in a cool city. The 2020 Equestrian Businesswomen summit will be on April 14 and 15th at the MGM Grand conference center. That’s the Tuesday and Wednesday before the start of the FEI World Cup finals for jumping and dressage in Las Vegas.

It’s a cool venue, and it’s connected to the hotel to make it easy. People can go down the street, to the Thomas and Mack Arena, for The World Cup afterward. I thought it would be cool to do one on the West Coast because we did have a lot of interest from people who couldn’t make it to Florida. We’d always planned to move it around every couple of years to make it accessible to people from different regions of the country.

What’s This Year’s Event Going to Look Like?

We’re going bigger and better in 2020. Last year, I thought, we had a really cool mix of topics and people. We touched on a lot of different parts of owning and running a business. People who attended in 219 wished that they had more time for networking and meeting other women. We’ve built in a lot of a lot more time for that this year, and by expanding to two days, we have more time to do some fun things.

On the first day we’ll have workshops. We have one big room that can be divided into three rooms. We’ll have various workshops, and people can choose which workshop they want to attend.

We’re also looking at having a cocktail reception at the end of the day on Tuesday. There’ll be longer lunch hours for people to mingle on Tuesday, and then Wednesday will be more like the schedule we had last year with a keynote speaker, motivational speaker, and panels on different topics.

Social media and marketing were big topics, so that’s what one of our panels will be on. We have some great people lined up to share their experiences. We’re working on landing an expert who isn’t in the equestrian industry, but runs a big social media platform and can give tips that work no matter what kind of business you have. 

We’re confirming people all the time, and in the next couple of months we’ll be making announcements on experts and panelists. I think one of the cool things that we did last year that I want to continue this year was finding people from lots of different parts of the industry.

 I come from a hunter jumper background. So that’s where I know the most people, but you know, last year we pulled from dressage, eventing, reining, and thoroughbred racing. We’ll do that again this year to gain perspective on how people do things in other parts of the industry.

 Who’s the summit for?

I’ve always said from the beginning that the summer it’s open for everyone, no matter what kind of business you have, no matter what type of horse you ride. It’s not specifically for people at the top of the sport. It’s not for people who have huge businesses.

 We surveyed our participants last year. There was a considerable range. We had everything from a business with over 100 employees to a high schooler who came because she wants to work in the industry.

 We don’t want to get too niche. We don’t want to exclude anyone based on what we offer. Nonprofits can gain a lot of information as well. That’s one of the panel topics that we are looking at — information from people who work with nonprofits.

 One of the ideas that I was interested in as a business owner is, how do you incorporate charitable giving to your business and still make a profit? So many people these days want to spend their money with companies that are doing helping with something bigger than themselves.

 Quick Pony Update from Jen

 I don’t have any horses of my own. I haven’t owned my own horse since I was a junior rider. I sold my junior hunter when I went to college, and I rode on the equestrian team at South Carolina.

Since then, I’ve only ridden for other people. I wouldn’t say regret it, but it’s something that I miss a lot. I leased a horse nine years ago. Time passes so fast it feels like two years ago.

That is a big goal of mine. Probably not this year, but maybe next year to get back into riding regularly. I had my son four years ago, and then I had another baby two months ago. So all of my finances and my time have gone towards them and my businesses. 

I’ve ridden twice in the past five years, which is so crazy and sad to think about. I’m at horse shows constantly for work, and I’m in the sport, but I’m not riding a horse, which is depressing at times. The last time I was regularly riding and doing lessons was in Wellington, and I got bucked off and dislocated my shoulder. 

I didn’t ride another horse for a year after that. I’ve gone out to the barn with my friend once and hacked around. I think a lot of amateurs can relate when you have a bad fall, and you’re not able to get back on right away. It’s going to take time.

I think that’s what I’d like to do is just find somewhere that I can go that I trust and they’re going to put me on a horse that’s going to instill confidence again. Even just spending time at the barn and grooming, that’s what I love, and I’d like to be able to do it again.

Last Year The Event Sold Out. What Does it Look Like for 2020?

We were able to increase our venue size this year. Last year, we had 185 people, and this year we have space for 285. Tickets went on sale a couple of weeks ago, and they’re selling well. If you’re considering it, figure out if you can go and buy your ticket soon. 

Once we’re sold out, that’s it. We can’t shove more people in the room. I tried to do that last year, and they said absolutely not because of fire regulation. The cost of the ticket is $219, which covers both days. You get everything included in that and the welcome party.

It’s an excellent investment for your business and yourself. When you think about what you would spend on buying a new pair of breeches or getting new stuff for your horse or other things you consider an investment. That’s what you need to do for yourself in your business, as well and, and make sure that you’re putting money back into your business and growing it.

Something that’s great about our summit is the communication and the connection you can have with people. We had Q&A sessions at the end of each speaker and panel last year, and those were some of the most engaging and entertaining parts of the day. The women had insightful questions that we hadn’t thought of, and it led to excellent conversations.

If you want to get a taste of what it was like, we still have the digital ticket for sale on our website. You can buy it on our ticket page for $37.

The Equestrian Businesswomen Membership is Coming Soon

We hope to launch the membership in 2020. I still have the goal of launching it before the summit in April. We’re pretty close to that, and it’ll be a great addition and resource for people who can’t go to the summit. 

Our goal is to have a year-round community for people. You know, the summit is a very limited amount of people, whereas the membership can offer opportunities for everyone to network and talk and share ideas anytime.

Members will be put in our directory, and they’ll have access to a private Facebook group where they can plan get-togethers and have a place to ask questions and crowdsource information. The other big part is our catalog of learning videos for members. We’ll have different people give videos on various aspects of owning and running an equestrian business. 

We see that library growing each quarter and offering more of that for members. We hope it’ll be an excellent place for everyone to come together and, and do even more.

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