Small Business Feature: Dapplebay Co

Check out this fun, sassy, equestrian apparel and goods company, Dapplebay Co. I had an interview with founder and fellow OTTB owner Leah Kaufmann, to find out more about what makes up this irresistible brand.

Tell me a little about yourself and your equestrian background?

I have loved horses for as long as I can remember! I started taking riding lessons when I was 5, and am so grateful to my mom for religiously taking me to the barn every weekend. I got my first horse, a dappled bay OTTB mare named Lady when I was 13. We did Pony Club together, had so many wild and fun adventures! She truly was my best friend, my “heart horse”, and she cemented my obsession with Thoroughbreds. She’s also the inspiration behind Dapplebay Co. 

When did you first start Dapplebay?

The name Dapplebay was inspired by my mare, Lady. She was a plain bay, but come summertime, she had the most gorgeous dapples! I actually came up with the name Dapplebay and the DB apple logo when I was in design school at the University of Washington. It wasn’t until many years later that I created the business. 

What inspired you to start Dapplebayco?

I had just moved with my boyfriend (now husband!) across the country to rural Georgia…and I didn’t know anyone in the horse world! I wasn’t sure how to get connected, but I had an idea to make cute horse themed graphic tees. I made a few designs and posted them to Facebook, and one of them went viral. I realized there was something there, figured out how to get shirts printed, and I began setting up shop at horse shows and clinics. Dapplebay ended up being the perfect way for me to get plugged into the equestrian community. 

I know you told me you own OTTB’s tell me about them?

I have two OTTB geldings now, Pie and Ranger. I’ve owned Pie for nearly twelve years now, I can hardly believe it. I got him when he was 4, just before we moved to GA. We had a ton of fun learning to event and schooling at amazing XC courses all over the southeast! He’s basically semi-retired now. (He thinks he is fully retired) Pie is my sensitive, sweet, quirky boy that I just love with all my heart! Ranger is a newer addition, he is a big handsome boy with the most lovable personality. Both of them take their Dapplebay modeling careers VERY seriously. 

What discipline do you currently do with your OTTBS?

I am an eventer at heart, but a back injury has kept me out of the saddle for several years. I have recently started riding both of my boys again, and hope to do trail riding and maybe some fox hunting! Pie is a freak for that sort of thing, but I think that Ranger could really be suited towards it.

What draws you to Thoroughbreds over other breeds?

Hands down, their sensitivity. They are so intuitive. So smart. They try so hard (sometimes too hard). They are so honest. They are often misunderstood. They are so classy, and so silly at the same time! My boys are so people oriented. Everyone who meets them just can’t believe how sweet and personable they are. I don’t know, I just love them! To me, Thoroughbreds are unlike any other breed of horse. 

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced since starting Dapplebayco?

My biggest challenge has been – is it a hobby, or is it a business? Because Dapplebay started as a passion project, the business side of it has always been a challenge for me. I’ve made some big moves in the past two years to make the business profitable (and sustainable) and that has been the biggest challenge yet! 

What is one piece of advice you would give other entrepreneurs that are starting out?

Decide from the start if it is a hobby or a business. A hobby doesn’t have to make money. A business needs to make money – so you need to know your numbers!

Photos Courtesy of Leah Kaufmann

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