Starting a business from scratch is not for the faint of heart! What inspired you to start Townsend Outfitters?
BL: After I retired from show jumping, I always wondered if there was a way to get that winning feeling back. I wanted to graciously exit the sport by maintaining a strong connection to horses while giving myself permission to try new things and grow as an individual. Around that time, I was fortunate to meet Carolyn and we bonded over horseback riding on the Equestrian team, skiing, trap shooting, hiking and travelling. Our motto became, “if you aren’t having fun, change it right now.” We simply set out to create something we both enjoyed doing and it has taken us on quite the ride. Perusing this venture has filled a piece of my heart and planted a fire that I have missed since I was a competitor.
CL: Brittany and I were both looking for a way to continue to be involved in the sports we love from a non-competitive side. I also grew up competitively riding and felt like I was no longer a member of a community after I was not involved in that world any longer. I still have a competitive spirit, but I really wanted to be involved in sports in a way that was more fun and with less pressure than when I was younger. By creating the relationships we have with the wonderful brands we work with we are still able to feel like we are part of something bigger than ourselves. When I get to talk with a customer and they tell us that we helped inspire them to take up a new hobby and they bonded with friends over that new sport, that is the ultimate reward for me. We want women to feel like they are able to discover these new talents they didn’t know they had and if having the right outfit gives them more confidence to do that, we have done our job.
What is something you know now that you wish you would have known in the beginning?
BL: Rome was not built in a day – neither was Revolve or Shopbop. My natural speed is about a million miles an hour and I always want things done yesterday. I’ve been learning to take a step back and enjoy the process and the little victories we often have. Sometimes I stop and think to myself, “if this time last year I saw the business where it is, would I be proud?” And I have to say yes. What started as our simple blog concept to highlight the activities we love has turned into a fully functioning e-commerce site. I have to say, it has exceeded my expectations in ways that I never imagined.
CL: Most people are genuinely willing to help, even when you least expected it. All you have to do is ask. There have been some incredibly helpful and generous mentors that we have been lucky to have help us as we built this company. When we first started this company, we were blogging about our favorite sports, and we reached out to a few companies asking if they would send us samples of clothing to review or shoot, a few companies we never thought would reply to us did! I think I wouldn’t have been so hesitant to start had I known how helpful people can be if you just have the courage to ask.
What is the best piece of business advice you’ve been given?
BL: George Patton once said, “Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.” Which is important for me to remember because I can be protective of our brand and processes. I get a lot of inspiration from reading books by entrepreneurs like Phil Knight and Sam Walton. More than anything, I feel like entrepreneurship is an attitude, so it is hard to pick a single sliver of wisdom as the best advice I’ve been given. I am so appreciative to everybody who has helped me and mentored us along this journey and for all of the advice that has been shared.
CL: Be resourceful and willing to learn. As small business owners, it is not about having all of the answers but having the work ethic to find them. Whether it is building a website or Facebook ads or a photoshoot, I am constantly learning. As I stated before, we have had some great mentors along the way, but we always had to do the work. No one is going to do it for you when there are just two of you. There are times when you’ll have to bring in someone smarter, more experienced than you are to help guide you, but after that guidance is given its time to get to work and learn everything you can then implement that knowledge.
What words of wisdom can you share with other ladies looking to start their own companies?
BL: Have faith in yourself and be resilient. Believe in yourself, your team, your business model and most importantly, the bigger picture. Have the capacity to recover quickly from any situation as each challenge is an opportunity in disguise. Try fast, fail fast, learn fast and repeat. You know what they say, “when you fall off the horse, you have to get right back on.”
CL: Dream big. Brittany always is the better one at this. I tend to be more reserved and get caught up in the day to day small details. She will look at a problem and be like “Revolve and Nordstrom did it, why shouldn’t we” and you know what, she’s usually right. Have a little more confidence in yourself and your own ideas and do not be afraid to dream big, we are nowhere near our goals but if you told us when we started that we would be working with 25 brands and more each day, while planning events in Aspen, Wellington and Palm Springs I don’t think I would have believed you.
What is the key to your success?
BL: Surrounding myself with people who inspire me every day. I am so grateful for the individuals and brands that have believed in our vision from our inception; MIASUKI, New Balance, Hurlingham Polo, Dagny Scout, Course & Club, and many more. It has been an honor and a privilege to work together, and I look forward to many more years of shared success. As we grow, I am constantly inspired by the stories behind each of the brands we work with. We wouldn’t be where we are today without them.
CL: My real key to success is always being open to new ideas and never accepting a “no” as a final answer, there is almost always a way to compromise and work through it to find a solution that works for everyone involved. Also, we are very lucky to work with such wonderful people on a daily basis. We truly love and support the brands we work with and they reciprocate the feelings back. Many of the brands we work with are young companies just like us, experiencing the same growing challenges we are. We are so lucky to surround ourselves with passionate, intelligent and kind people who want to make all our goals work. Knowing there is a whole community of people that we are connected to with this business is a real motivating factor and a huge wealth of knowledge and community like nowhere else I’ve ever worked.
Where would you like to see your company in 5 years?
BL: I’d like to see Town’s End reaching and inspiring more women to try new things – whether it be golf, tennis, riding, sailing, skiing – anything! While clothing may be central to our business model, it is more about the memories you make and the friendships you forge while playing a sport or trying something new. I would love to see Town’s End host a polo tournament, retreat or special event to bring together all of the amazing people we’ve had the opportunity to meet.
CL: For me success would be met in the form of having a huge community of women who support each other and give each other the confidence to try new sports and realize you don’t have to be the best to have a great time and enjoy your life. As Britt mentioned, I would love to host more events where we can have like-minded women meet and become friends! 5 years from now I hope we are able to branch into Menswear as well and maybe even kids’ apparel! We have huge plans, keep watching!
Course & Club is honored to a featured brand on Town's End Outfitters site. To see everything else they have going on please visit their website and/or instagram.