In 2018, equestrian entrepreneur and amateur dressage rider Mallory Haigh had a vision for a dressage-focused tack shop that was able to specialize in ways the big stores could not. And thus, Piaffe – Dressage Lifestyle, a boutique equestrian equipment and apparel retailer, was born.
Piaffe – Dressage Lifestyle is a boutique equestrian equipment and apparel retailer focused solely on the sport of dressage. There you can find a range of products specifically designed for dressage horses and riders ranging from custom hand-made riding boots, riding helmets, and breeches as well as other equestrian wear, saddle pads, horse boots, bridles, bits, and innovative equipment such as shock-absorbing stirrup irons.
Running an equestrian business is no easy feat, especially when market saturation is high. In the early years, Mallory was tempted to expand outside of just offering dressage-focused products in order to remain competitive.
Looking back, Mallory states, “Every time I tried or dabbled with the idea of shifting Piaffe’s focus, I was reminded how important it is to maintain our focus – it’s the fact we’re specialized that has given us success, and we’d like to keep it that way! We’ve been able to remain small, boutique, and bespoke – our relationship with manufacturers means we can order custom products from brands other retailers can’t get access to in that context.”
Another challenge Mallory faced was finding a balance between a very seasonal business and her other commitments, which included managing a small equestrian facility, showing and training at a reasonably high level in dressage, as well as working a full-time remote job.
But this challenge reflects the true entrepreneurial spirit, with Mallory finding support in her family and employer who have cheered her on over the past 6 years
Today, Piaffe – Dressage Lifestyle ships all over North America and maintains a huge client base both in Canada and the United States. They’ve even partnered with Olympic-level dressage trainers and influencers within the equestrian space to promote their product lines year round.
Their continued success has also allowed them to design their own line of products to compliment their existing roster and also to fill the needs of riders in different price ranges. You may have seen products from their shop in arenas of the World Championships, Pan American Games, North American Young Rider Championships, and the Olympics!
Mallory approached Trenval fairly early on in the process with the hopes of being able to expand her business quickly.
“My parents have been active in the Quinte community for a very long time, including involvement in programs like the Kiwanis and the Quinte West Chamber of Commerce. Through them, I have been aware of Trenval and the CFP for a very long time and knew that pursuing the growth of Piaffe by working with Trenval was a very accessible option,” Mallory explains.
She was also aware that buying and maintaining an inventory level would be a challenge, especially when many European manufacturers require large minimum orders. Thanks to funding through Trenval, Mallory was able to hit the ground running with an e-commerce business and also in-person presence at horse shows. It also allowed Mallory to bring in some exciting brands and create her own products. As a result, their customer base grew well beyond what they anticipated.
However, like many entrepreneurs, Mallory faced a number of challenges caused by the Covid pandemic.
“Trenval was instrumental in facilitating the distribution of the incredibly important grants and government loans made available to businesses during this challenging time. The horse industry, horse shows, and equestrian sport in general took a major hit during this period, which was quickly reflected in our sales as well as our ability to attend in-person events,” Mallory shares. “The funding we received in this period allowed us to maintain positive cash flow, and survive a challenging time.”
As a result of continued success and growth, Mallory has been able to employ a few part-time/seasonal employees to help out during the busiest times of year. They’ve also been able to provide sponsorships to local equestrian events and charities, which has brought a whole new level of quality products to the area while supporting causes close to her heart.
Looking forward, Mallory is hoping to grow even further, with bigger advertising budgets and more exciting products added to the line-up. Piaffe’s impact has extended past the Bay of Quinte, Mallory has shipped products worldwide and has built some amazing connections with companies in Europe, which in turn has brought more unique goods into North America.
Your journey into the world of a real dressage lifestyle starts with Piaffe!