I have plans to bring more new products to market this year so I thought now would be a good time to explain the process I go through.
Ideas for new products come from all of you. I listen and watch what you my customers are looking for. When I attend events I ask the customers in my booth what they are looking for. If it is something I don’t currently carry, I take notes. I ask questions. I spend lots of time on FB tack groups watching what people are looking for and how I could meet that need/want. I research what competitors are doing. What types of items are in all the show pictures posted everywhere. Recently, I posed a question on my FB page and a few of the tack pages asking what your dream rein style would be. I received hundreds of responses and a few of those requests are in the works to be new styles in the future.
Once I an idea for a new item I get to sketching out and/or writing a clear description of every aspect of the item. I get back to my drafting roots and do a CAD drawing when the item is detailed and needs lots of detailed information about the different components that make up the item. The drawing and description is sent to my manufacturer to make a sample or two.
Once the sample is made I receive it and inspect it to make sure it has been made to the description and drawing for size, design features and durability. I then send it out to one of my sponsored riders, a pro who inspired the new item or one of my top, long time customers for testing. I want them to put it to work in daily activities to prove durability, usefulness and fitness for purpose. I may be small, but I don’t put a product out that has not proven itself. Sometimes that testing is very short if it is just a modification of existing items and we just need to know that the item works. Sometimes, that testing is a few months to make sure the item will stand the test of daily hard use. During the testing process, we see if changes need to be made to the design to improve comfort for the horse, comfort for the rider or to make changes for fit or durability. Pictures and notes are sent back to my manufacturer for final design approval and production. This process generally takes months since all items are made to my specs: a sample will take about 2 months to arrive after details are submitted, then the testing process and then 2 to 3 more months for production of the final product once the final design is approved.
As an example of the process I will discuss my new hunt bridle. I wanted to bring a traditionally styled hunt bridle with a comfort crown with all my high quality details my customers have come to expect. I had a sample made and took a road trip to Washington to a friend who had approached me with the idea. We tried the bridle on a few of her horses and took pictures. During that process we decided the noseband needed a modification (the noseband needed to be tapered under the chin area on both sides) so it would be more comfortable for the horse and fit better. We also decided the width of the noseband needed to be adjusted for the different bridle sizes. The rest of the bridle fit well to several horses so the noseband notes were sent off to the manufacturer for final design approval.
So, when you see that I have a new product offering, you can be assured that it has been proven to be useful, durable and something I will stand behind.