In this article, I had the opportunity to speak to Natalia Graf, the Founder of Sync Equestrian, clothing for female equestrians. As a lover of athleisurewear, I was excited to talk to Natalia about her inspiration for the brand and what it means to be a woman in business.
She has merged her two passions – fashion and horseback riding – into a growing brand for female equestrians.
In her words, “This is a dream come true.”
Let’s dive in and share the conversation.
Hello, Natalia and thank you for taking the time to talk to me today. Can you tell me about your background and inspiration for Sync Equestrian?
I started riding horses when I was six years old. We were living in Germany, and I continued riding through high school. Then I moved to New York for almost 15 years and really got into fashion. My love of riding never waivered so I headed back to Northern Virginia where my family lives. The first thing I did was get back into riding. It was then that I saw a huge problem in the market when it came to equestrian clothing.
As a curvier person, I found the clothing to be quite uncomfortable. I have hips and it felt like the clothes were designed for straighter bodies. Not only that, but the styles were also boring. I just wasn’t finding joy in the clothing. That inspired me to create the Sync Equestrian line of riding clothing for women.
Tell me about the clothing designs.
I wanted the clothing to not only fit every body type, but I also wanted it to be fun. The goal has always been to disrupt the marketplace and change what is acceptable to wear at the barn and while riding.
The designs not only fit my body type, but it fits everyone’s bodies.
I like to call Sync Equestrian the Spanx of equestrian pants because it really holds you in but also gives flexibility. In this way, the clothing conforms to your body type. It’s flattering on everyone. We offer riders from extra small to triple extra-large. So there really is something for everyone!
I think I can guess, but I want to ask what makes you passionate about your work?
Sync Equestrian combines my two loves – fashion and horseback riding.
I am passionate about every woman feeling comfortable in whatever she is wearing. A lot of clothing, in my opinion, is made for one body type. Not every woman is that body type, take me as an example. I want everyone to get the best performance they can from their clothing, especially when they’re riding.
In addition, and before I had any success, my plan and passion has always been to give back to charity.
How does Sync Equestrian give back?
We give back to a charity called Egypt Equine Aid. The abuse of horses in Egypt is awful; I’ve never seen anything like it, and I want to help. We give back each quarter to help with the medical care of horses and donkeys in and around Cairo, Egypt.
Per the Sync Equestrian website, the people are poor, so they are not able to care for the animals in the way that is needed to keep them healthy. There are also few well-trained veterinarians, so donations help get the horses and donkeys the care they need.
The opportunity to give back is a motivator for me personally and aligns with my personal and brand mission.
What sets Sync Equestrian apart from other riding clothing brands?
We're also diverse, starting with design and continuing through our advertising and marketing. We feature different body types, ethnicities, and are trying to break barriers of what people assume an equestrian is supposed to look like.
I add that one of the reasons I love working with the PH Consulting & Media team is that we are a diverse group of people with different perspectives and ideas. Naturally, we attract clients that are of the same mindset and passion.
Every woman should feel comfortable in skin, in your clothes and creating fashion for those of us that don't fit the exact mold of what's being created right now is just a beautiful thing. And I love supporting organizations like that, supporting businesses like that. And that's beautiful. You're a beautiful soul. What do the women say who have purchased Sync Equestrian wear and what are their reactions to it and for it fitting all different types of bodies?
The company grew fast, and I think that’s because our clothing speaks to a diverse audience.
One of my favorite reviews was from a woman who said, “Imagine the comfort of your favorite running tights with the compression of your favorite yoga pants and two large pockets, all to fit your body while you're riding."
The feedback has been amazing because people do feel beautiful and comfortable in our clothing.
We’ve also eliminated the need to have to wear a belt. A lot of equestrians have belt loops, but we inserted an adjustable waistband, so you don't even have to wear a belt.
You can tighten them if you want. It’s a modern take on a classic pant and it’s so stylish that you can wear it on and off saddle. Modern women really appreciate that because we're busy.
Our customers love that they can just go to the barn. The dirt comes off super easily and then they can go and run errands. They feel comfortable and love the pocket space.
Overall, our quality is good, so we have many, many repeat customers who are loyal and have supported the growth of our brand.
Sync Equestrian can be purchased online at https://syncequestrian.com/.
What do you recommend as first steps for other entrepreneurs interested in starting their own business?
The first step is to set up an LLC. Then work on growing social media accounts for the business.
It’s about little steps each day that add up to big things – like a business or brand.
Make a list of three small things that you can do while you're working your nine to five to take the next step. I think the most difficult part is starting. Once you realize you're taking three, five, and 10 steps every single day, you'll be quitting that nine to five before you know it.
You just take that initiative to take those steps and get over that fear.
The fear of failure and fear of what people think, in my opinion, is the biggest up back for most people.
For me it was, I'm going to start designing three pants. Like I started with three pants. Now we have 16 products in less than two years.
The universe will align everything for you, in my opinion, when you take that step, when you take the first couple steps. Everything else will fall into place.
Tell me about the Sync Equestrian team.
Primarily we run the business with me and contractors. I have six to seven people on my team, from marketing to photography to website development, and packaging, an assistant. Most of my employees are contracted because I think it's better to do it that way, in my opinion.
When you’re not riding and building a fashion empire, what do you like to do?
I love riding horses!
Aside from that, I use my personal platform to motivate others.
How do you motivate others?
I was stuck in a job that I absolutely hated. I worked a toxic nine to five. I went through a rough period from eating disorders to and Adderall addiction and just a terrible life, to waking up one day and starting Sync Equestrian. I snapped out of it. I put on some weight. I was happy with myself. I learned how to love myself and I try to teach others as well.
I'm passionate about entrepreneurship, people who want to make the change, but don't know how to make the change and motivating others to go for it. I think fear holds people back from doing what they really want to do. I try to inspire others and share my passion. I also read at least two books a month, mostly about self-improvement. Then I share what I learn on my platform.
Where do you see Sync Equestrian going in the next five years, 10 years?
Sync Equestrian is going to be one of the leading brands internationally for equestrian wear.
We're also expanding into more horse-related products.
I see us breaking barriers of what people think equestrian clothing is supposed to look like.
We take many risks with our designs. For example, we were the first brand who introduced mesh into the breaches. A lot of people have mesh where you have the boots, so you can't see it. We have visible mesh on our breaches and people loved it.
I think by taking risks like that, you change the industry as well. We've already taken over the market in such a short period of time. We launched two years ago, and sales have been amazing, but I want to expand. I want to have more products. I want to be one of the leaders.
Anything else you’d like to share?
On a personal note, I want to create a platform down the line to help other entrepreneurs get started. Sometimes when you start a business, especially in online business, it's hard to know where to start. I think down the line, that's something that I'm personally interested in, and it would be somewhat of a passion of mine as well.
Lastly, what is it like collaborating with the team at PH Consulting & Media?
I’ve known Phill Hammond since I lived in New York many years ago. I was a model back then. He was a photographer and videographer. We did a photoshoot at Coney Island and reconnected on Instagram a few years ago. When I thought about Sync Equestrian, I knew I wanted Phill and his team of professionals to be involved. The project, turnaround time, and entire experience were amazing. I was pleased with the results.
I add that I think she would be a great entrepreneur on the television show Shark Tank. Damon John, are you reading this. We’d love to share Sync Equestrian with you!
Natalia is so inspiring that I told her I would call her if I were feeling uninspired. She is a force. I can’t wait to see what she does next!