Why a Horse Biz should say NO to Distribution (PLUS a 25% Discount!)

In our last post we discussed the basic outline of a distribution agreement for horse products.  As you can imagine, problems can often arise between the buyer and seller.  And even with a distribution contract in place there may still be issues that emerge that are contrary to the vision that you have for your horse business.  You should therefore carefully consider whether a distribution of your horse product is the right decision for you and your business, and how you might enforce your brand vision in your contract.

Today we are sharing the story of a great small horse business, Deco Pony, which offers a variety of equestrian purses and products, as well as providing many custom options.  The Deco Pony custom photo stall guard was named by Professional Horseman's as a top 10 gift!  Deco Pony was offered a distribution agreement early in the business, and Jenn Hogan, the company owner, decided to reject the offer.  Here is her story.

I was extremely flattered to be called from a big Equestrian Supply Manufacturer & Distributor saying "they would love to meet with me when they get back into town to talk about getting my bags into stores for the Holidays!"

I had given them a few bags to try out & show around the Rolex 3 Day Event & other venues in the Spring to generate buzz, so they had been using them non-stop ever since. It never ever dawned on me that they might end up liking them so much that they would want to "buy my company." They were in the business of bits, apparel & saddle pads.

Why Distribution wasn't right for Deco Pony for now ~

We met - they told me how impressed they were with the designs & especially the quality & durability of the construction, which was impressive coming from a Manufacturer.
I told them I have been very pleased with my Manufacturer & I am proud to have them made in the USA.
They told me they would love to take over manufacturing & distribution, keeping the Deco Pony name & still allowing me to do my Custom orders on the side, while giving me Royalties. What an offer within 9 months of starting my business!

The #1 reason I chose against the offer ~ I was just getting started & really wanted to see where I could take it on my own. I was absolutely not ready to give my designs away for 5% royalties. It was tempting though, because all I would have to do was turn out a few designs a season - the part I loved doing the most - but not for such a small piece of the pie.

Reason #2  ~ They were going to make them in…. you guess it - China. No thank you - I couldn't sleep at night knowing this was happening. Ethically it was not the right choice for me along with quality & copyright concerns.

Reason #3 ~ Having never been in a situation like this before I was very concerned about what control if any I would end up having over my brand once things got rolling & where would I find a Lawyer to help me negotiate these new waters?

Reason #4 ~ This was my baby were we talking about, it was only 9 months old and I wanted to nurture it along & see what we could do & learn together. My curiosity & pride weren't interested in taking a back seat.


As you can see, deciding whether and how to distribute your horse products is both a very personal decision, and one based on financial, legal, and business savvy considerations.  I applaud Deco Designs, and any other horse business, for realizing that negotiating distribution waters is certainly an aspect in your business when an attorney should be consulted.  

If you are considering distribution agreements, search "distribution" in the blog's search box to review the relevant posts; this will help you be aware of the general concerns and parameters of distribution of horse products.  You can take these elements to an attorney, which will help reduce the amount of time the attorney needs to work with you to understand your goal and motive to the distribution agreement, and also provide a great foundation for the Distribution Contract.  If the distributor provides you with a contract it would be highly advisable to have an attorney review and talk with you about it to make sure you aren't giving away too much of your business.

As a consumer, have you ever been curious why your tack store no longer carries certain brands?  Did you realize it could be a distribution agreement issue?

And if you are a horse business owner: is a distribution offer something you dream of for your company, or is it something you can't imagine yourself accepting?

Special Offer! For Ribbons and Red Tape readers (the most horse savvy readers around!), Deco Pony is offering a generous 25% off any product! Head to the online store and enter code "Red Ribbons" at checkout. Valid for 2 days only!