More Than a Hobby: Hobby Horse Inc.
Kristin Titov of Newport Beach, California was born horse crazy, with a passion for fashion, but becoming CEO of Hobby Horse Inc. was an opportunity no one saw coming. When she was seven years old, Titov got her first horse and her first showmanship suit from none other than Hobby Horse.
Almost every time she’s shown throughout her life has been in Hobby Horse clothing. If Titov wasn’t wearing Hobby Horse in the show pen, she was modeling it. This self-made woman graduated from college with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. She then moved around professions, working in retail, marketing and consulting, and becoming the head of HR.
Each opportunity helped Kristin learn how to run a business and move each department forward. After more than 30 years at the helm, Hobby Horse founder Suzi Vlietstra handed over the reins to new Hobby Horse Clothing Co., Inc. CEO Kristin Darnall-Titov in late 2017. Her love of horses and fashion has enabled her to put a new spin and bring fresh ideas to Hobby Horse.
GoHorseShow had the opportunity to talk with Kristin and learn more about her innovative company.
Q: What makes Hobby Horse Inc. different from any other show clothes business?
A: Our unique price point makes us stand out from others; you get a lot for your money. You don’t get all the crazy expensive sparkle, but you get the same amount of shine in the pen for way less. We also create complete outfits, so you get matching and coordinating hats, chaps, saddle pads, and show jackets. It’s all about making innovative changes.”
Q: What’s your advice for people wanting to go into the horse show fashion industry?
A: Try to make connections with people already in the industry, I always try to support other businesswomen. Use cross-marketing that’s beneficial to everyone. Connections and good relationships are a big part of this industry. Try to find a mentor or someone you look up to. My mentor is Trent Johnson of Greely Hat Works. (Kristin pictured right)
Q: What’s your favorite part about your job?
A: I love the designing and marketing aspect of it. Even though I have absolutely no experience with designing, I love creating and coming up with innovative designs. I love the fashion side of my job, but I also love marketing and working with influential women in this industry.
Q: Does being a horse show exhibitor help with being CEO of Hobby Horse Inc.?
A: It helps a lot for two reasons. First, I’m in the heartbeat of the industry, and I live the life of my clients. Second, I show in our samples, so I get to feel how the jackets fit. This helps me see if maybe I should make the sleeves longer or if the fabric is itchy, perhaps I can fix that. It also helps because I get feedback from people around the show on whether they like the look of the outfit or not.
Q: What are your favorite trends in horse show fashion?
A: I love colored hats and full looks versus just black or brown hats. I have a moto that I like to go by, “When you’re showing a horse anything can happen, you have no control, but you have control of how you look when you walk in the show pen.
Q: Is there anything you would like our readers to know about your business?
A: We’re trying to create a business with innovated and high-quality show clothing at a low cost, run by women who show, for women who show.
Kristin says one of the most rewarding parts of her job is getting feedback from her happy customers. “It makes me feel like what I’m doing has a purpose.”
This successful CEO continues to show in the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA), wearing head to toe Hobby Horse with her horse Gunsup In Tinseltown, aka Pickles. Titov’s busy schedule has her working with many people and businesses in the equine fashion industry such as Greely Hat Works, Kimes Ranch, C.M. Modeling and many others.
Titov says, “My schedule is different every day. For example, last week I was in Arizona for a photo shoot with Kirstie Marie Photography. I was working on clothes organization and putting the right clothes on each model and making sure the coordinating pad was on the right horse. Today, I’m in my office checking emails and looking at fabric for our Spring 2020 line. I also was on the phone with our marketing coordinator this morning, and then I tracked our weekly social media numbers, seeing what people liked and didn’t like. Every day is different.”
Titov continues to be an inspiration and influence for young girls with a love of horses and fashion. Her innovative ideas and strong work ethic have helped her become the CEO of Hobby Horse Inc. Hobby Horse not only has high-quality show clothes for an affordable price, but it also supports the independent, self-sufficient women of this industry.
View the slideshow below of a photo shoot of Hobby Horse, Inc taken by Kirstie Marie Photography
Lauren Pursley is a devoted youth equestrian showing in the all-around events with her horse Lovin Some Lazy Lola. Lauren is the current Texas Quarter Horse Youth Association Reporter. In addition to competing in AQHA shows, Lauren competes in Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) horse shows, 4H Horse Judging and is a member of the 4H Veterinary Science Club. Lauren enjoys working with horses, writing about horses, and equine photography.