Shelly Watts; write it down. If you don’t know her name already, you certainly will soon. The Michigan native is the latest equestrian entrepreneur to disrupt the status quo of our traditionally non-inclusive culture by not only shining a light on minority riders, but also by creating an ethically-minded company that pays its employees a living wage. All of whom are in employed right here in the United States.
Oh. Did I mention she is also the new Development Director for Detroit Horse Power? *insert awe-struck emoji here*
As a re-rider coming back to the sport only after her daughter expressed interest in riding, Watts brings a fresh perspective on everything that hasn’t changed since she last rode. On the forefront of these observations was the lack of representation in equestrian apparel and marketing.
“The equestrian world is beautifully diverse, it just wasn’t showcased” Watts explained. As a lifelong athlete, when searching for riding attire for her and her daughter, Watts knew what was functionally required of the athletic apparel and what she needed as an equestrian, but what she couldn’t quite wrap her mind around was being priced out of a decent pair of breeches compared to any other form of athletic ware. “I kept asking myself ‘why is it like this. Why is it so expensive?!’” Watts commented.
And so it was then, when faced with two seemingly steep uphill battles, Watts decided to tackle the issue head on. With a “diversity-driven and size-inclusive” mantra, Muirneen Equestrian was born.
Shaped by her Detroit Metropolitan upbringing, Watts drew inspiration from the “beautiful melting pot” of the city’s people, culture and overwhelming diverse combination of the two. And on top of that, she also wanted to give back to her community; and not once she found herself financially able as a successful entrepreneur, but right from the starting gate. “I really care about helping other people and not just myself. I wanted to create jobs here in the United States where anyone who joined my world would be paid a living wage” Watts declared.
Watts has seemingly accomplished more as an entry-level entrepreneur than most do in a lifetime of managing businesses. What many would consider long-range organizational goals, Watts implemented on day one: diversity, inclusion and affordability; all the while creating a boost in the local economy.