Years ago I participated in a test administered by a high-level executive recruiter. The biggest “insights” to better guide my career and those manage me were that I work with a high attention to detail and an appreciation to what could best be described as craftsmanship. Almost two decades later I reflect on the companies that I have worked for and my highest enjoyment has come from those that at their core are authentic and transparent in producing quality products and services.
Hindsight is 20/20 and I can pinpoint the time and place where my affinity to quality was ignited. The place was a saddle shop in the SF Bay Area, the item was a headstall and my age was nine. I had saved money from birthdays and holidays and my parents drove me forty-five minutes to the “English tack store” to buy my first new headstall. I still remember the smell of leather in the store and holding the bridle on my lap the entire drive home. Through riding, my understanding of craftsmanship continued to grow as I learned about saddle construction, fit and quality of leather for riding boots, fabrics of riding apparel, hardware for equipment and general construction of all things equestrian.
IMAGE: Showing my hunter, Sazerac.
Boots: Der Dau Custom Riding Boots, Coat: Winston USA
Street to Stable® was formed in 2014 and is the result of an offshoot of my consulting business with a blog of the same name, K.M. Thornton & Co, llc. A business coach originally recommended that I write about my studies of the equestrian market as a therapeutic outlet. I was drawn to sharing the stories of artisans and the more I searched, the more I discovered that the equestrian community is much more diverse than I surmised. It is bound by a specialized group of artisans and entrepreneurs that create some of the finest products related to equestrian sport, yet they do not ride.
"BUGATTI" by fine artist Jan Lukens.
IMAGE: Jan Lukens was one of the first artists to be featured on kmthornton.com, later to become streettostable.com
Over the last 6 years the blog has been a labor of love and we (my husband and I) have not taken any advertising money to ensure I stay pure to our intent of not having bias. My belief in these passionate entrepreneurs led me to identify that I j wanted to focus solely on telling their stories to build exposure to each business. It is surprising the cost of overhead of a website, even when you do the majority of the work. I spent quite a bit of time last summer trying to determine how to sustain my objective and I even met with the small business association as to how to obtain not for profit status.
Life experience then came full circle. The focus of the last years of my corporate career was online commerce. I had been factoring that maybe I would incorporate this skillset into Street to Stable as the solution for sustaining the platform, while fulfilling the intent to perpetuate the entrepreneurs. By serendipitous timing, I was writing the story about Jill Slater of RIATA Designs and I found a complete alignment of values and balance of strengths. I pitched the idea to collaborate on a line and the rest is a whirlwind of months of work and products (hat design, commerce website, marketing, packaging) I think we are both very proud of!
IMAGE: My Personal RIATA
I cannot thank Jill enough for her constant encouragement and support of this venture. She originally expressed that she experienced the benefits of exposure from the Street to Stable website and she full heartedly backed the concept. With patience she helped create a line that reflects my style vision and her craftsmanship, while also promoting an important wellness concept we both widely advocate: sun protection.
IMAGE: A virtual rose bouquet for Jill Slater whose encouragement remains invaluable!
At times I have struggled with missing the energy that I thrived on in the corporate world, but I knew when I left that I had other obligations and that I needed to use my skills elsewhere. It is the lessons that I learned during both my corporate and consulting careers that have helped fuel my passion and confidence to share the stories of the artisans, educators, artifacts and entrepreneurs that are part of the equestrian way of life. As James C. Collins, author of Good to Great: Why some Companies Make the Leap…and others Don’t, explains, “Perhaps your quest to be part of building something great will not fall in your business life. But find it somewhere. If not in corporate life, then perhaps in making your church great. If not there, then perhaps a nonprofit, or a community organization, or a class you teach. Get involved in something that you care so much about that you want to make it the greatest it can possibly be, not because of what you will get, but just because it can be done.”
I believe my quest with Street to Stable is to do my best in perpetuating the authentic values that make the equestrian way of life positive and fulfilling.
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