After her meeting with Sean Hall, Bridie began making belts for her family and friends as gifts. Still only aged 17, Bridie began creating dog collars in a similar style – all handcrafted out of real leather.
Although she received many enquiries about her custom accessories, Bridie was unaware of how desired her products would be. At the time, the young designer was working at Lybrook Farm Equestrian. Her boss, Nigel Tabour, persuaded Bridie to run a stand at his annual British Eventing Horse Trials. This was the first time Bridie had considered retailing her designs, but with the help of her parents’ gazebo and some rickety garden panels she put together a stall. To her delight, she left the event having sold all her stock, receiving nothing but positive feedback and having taken many new orders!
These first sales developed into some of Hicks and Hides’ most loyal customers – clients who still to this day follow the business, proudly watching it expand and grow. It wasn’t long until the surrounding area of Broadway was kitted out with Hicks and Hides custom belts and dog collars.
At a Point to Point event Bridie met the founders of ‘Crafty Fox’ and ‘Sticks and Stones’, Damien and Niamh. The business owners took great interest in her designs and helped her on her way to success. With their support, Bridie began to realise the potential in Hicks and Hides, leading her to travel further afield to broaden her horizons and market. Damien and Niamh took Bridie under their wing, inviting her along with them to the shows around the UK, which ultimately triggered the national success of the company.
These shows gave Bridie a platform to promote her brand, to meet prospective customers and to network with other designers. But fundamentally, the most beneficial aspect of these events was the confidence it gave Bridie. Spending so much time away from home at such a young age was challenging at times, but it opened the young entrepreneur’s eyes to the country-wear industry and motivated her to make the most out of her talent.