Chanel is a first generation African American English/Western rider and third generation entrepreneur. She has had a passion for horses her entire life. Her mother encouraged her to live her life with passion and pursue her dreams and worked very hard to purchase her riding lessons. Although Chanel did not ride consistently, she never lost sight of her dreams of riding and owning horses.
"At the age of 20 years old I conducted research on how to obtain and maintain a horse with little to no money. I spoke to a man over the phone who gave me some great advice after scanning through Craigslist. He told me to become a working student to pay for lessons. I took his advice and found a trainer in Long Beach named Cliff Salter. I became a working student for him and worked with him for 7 years. Through him I obtained my first horse with my mother’s help. Fourteen years later I am now a business owner, stunt rider, and a working student for a Hunter/Jumper Program called Mountain View Farms South with trainer, Jasmine Wheatley. I now have 2 amazing horses (one belonging to my mother, who I inspired to ride). I have a Tobiano “Lady” paint and OTTB “Gabriel” that I ride in both English and Western riding styles. I compete in Hunter/Jumpers, barrel races, and Gymkhanas. Lady and I have also participated in few productions and photoshoots together. I consider English riding to be a solid foundation for my Western riding."
In 2019 during Black History Month, Chanel was inspired by the many creative social media posts from other African American Equestrians. She decided to get a little creative with her Tobiano’s "sad and limp mane" and created a false mane prototype that matched her mane colors. Unfortunately, the prototype did not work on the day of her video and photo shoot with fiancé, Andrew Garces.
"Andrew suggested to film me installing my loose leftover braiding hair from scratch. He edited and released the project the very next day. I named this project “Afrocentric Pony.” Shortly after I released Afrocentric Pony on Social Media I was contacted by Abriana Johnson and Caitlin Gooch from the Young Black Equestrian’s Podcast to record an episode. During the podcast they encouraged me to create a sellable item. Afterwards I started developing my horse extensions. I have been blessed with some wonderful opportunities and open doors."
Chanel's business is now Mane Tresses, where customers can get “A Tress Above the Rest.” She has created synthetic lightweight, easy-to-install, colorful/natural-colored wigs for horses. Mane Tresses launched on January 25, 2021.
"My target market is equestrians, specialty horse shows, production companies, movie studios, photographers, and theme parks. I am thankful for the many opportunities that arose for me and I look forward to more open doors."
Photo courtesy of Andy Graces.