Meet Kaelyn Kennedy! She is the 19 year old founder and creative director of TKEQ the shop. Kaelyn started to ride when she was nine years old and within less than two years, she shared three horses with her mom and was attending horse shows regularly! Today, she has two retired horses, but is looking into getting into the Adult Amateur Hunters very soon. If Kaelyn is not working on her business or at the barn, she is most likely doing schoolwork in pursuit of her Bachelor of Commerce Degree at Athabasca University (AU).
HG: Kaelyn, you first launched TKEQ the shop in 2016, at the impressive age of 16. I think everyone in our equestrian community would agree that TKEQ has been very successful. Looking back, was there a time that you felt like your (young) age was a hindrance? In what ways was it an asset?
TKEQ: The main hindrance I faced was being second guessed. I have had my trades, who have been around the sun a few more times than me, change my design because they thought I “wasn’t thinking straight”, was “making a mistake” or my personal favourite, “we changed it because your generation wouldn’t like it”. In the long run it was a blessing because I feel very comfortable standing up for my vision which has gained me a lot of respect.
My age has definitely been an asset in the sense that I know/am my target market. Since the beginning of TKEQ I have really tried to make pieces I would wear at prices I would pay. I am constantly looking at all of our pieces from a now nineteen year old’s perspective making sure its appealing in all aspects.
HG: TKEQ Athletics is your new baby and focuses on the athliesure trend. I love the catch phrase of “from the gym to girls night in & everywhere in-between”. What inspired you to start this new line when most people would have their hands full with just one business?
TKEQ: TKEQ Athletics has been a long time in the making, even the name was different when I first came up with it! I have been very passionate about this project for the last year and seeing it all come to life has really been amazing. Being a rider means being athletic, from the moment you get to the barn until you leave there is really not a minute that goes by that you are pushing or pulling or lifting; We are incredible athletes! I created TKEQ Athletics to be activewear specifically designed for equestrians.
HG: I would imagine there have been many days where you feel overwhelmed with school, riding, running two businesses and making time for your friends and family. Do you have any advice on how to keep moving forward and balance it all?
TKEQ: All the time! Sometimes I don’t even know how I actually get it all done. I have found the best way to keep it all under control is to plan, plan, plan. My iPhone Calendar and Notes are always full plus my day timer as well as my social media planners are never far away. I am constantly writing things down or checking things off a todo list just to keep all my balls rolling! Definitely my saving grace has been the ability to give myself an hour or two of time to be away from my phone, day timer & various papers. Just being able to disconnect has helped a lot! I highly recommend.
HG: What is the most influential piece of business advice you have been given or have read?
TKEQ: It’s OKAY to make mistakes, you learn more from mistakes than you do getting things perfect every time. The idea of a mistake or failure is really scary to me! I have always been that way and it flared up a lot when I started TKEQ. I would be so afraid of failure, I would push product launches back and procrastinate. I really had to learn it is perfectly okay to not be perfect! Not every launch is going to be “confetti and champagne”, sometimes it is going to be crickets but that is OKAY. Just keep learning, grinding away because that experience will bring you to a whole new level.
HG: When you were designing the first pieces for TKEQ Athletics, what sources did you use for inspiration?
TKEQ: Most of my inspiration came from my experiences buying and using athletic wear as a rider. I know many girls who ride in Lulu or Under Armour tops, which are fantastic but are usually designed for yoga or dry-land training not the constant wear & tear we go through. All of TKEQ Athletics’ items have four-way stretch, UV protection plus special features like extra length in the arms & just the right body length to stay tucked in without extra material.
HG: I love the flirty, feminine and soft colors used in the TKEQ Athletics. How did you select those?
TKEQ: Thank you so much! I love monochromatic colour palettes (you can probably tell from the five different greys incorporated into TKEQ the shop) so keeping that theme throughout Athletics is really important to me. I believe the best part of activewear is the fun colours so I experimented with releasing Bittersweet, a soft peachy-pink, and Reign, a heather purple. They have both been so positively received. I really feel we nailed the perfect combination of fun and soft colours!
HG: How does it feel when you see the TKEQ clothing being worn at a show or elsewhere out in public?
TKEQ: It is truly an indescribable feeling. I recently saw a girl at Spruce Meadows wearing an amazing outfit – I literally had to do a double take before noticing she was in our ‘EZ’ vest! At the beginning I would see my friends/ mutual friends wearing TKEQ and now I see people wearing it that I’ve never met before. Definitely cool to see how much the brand has expanded over the last year.
HG: What is next in the pipeline for both brands? How soon are you developing what is next?
TKEQ: TKEQ Athletics is just getting started – seriously! The Collection for Fall 2019 is 100% ready and is going to be a game changer. Extended colour ranges, additional sizes, new styles and maybe a few merino wool sweaters… you didn’t hear it from me though! I am so excited to also announce we are released The ’Taylor’ Seamless SHORT SLEEVE in Reign, Bittersweet and Nickel this month – everything you love about the ‘Taylor’ just short and sweet.
As Pony Finals is approaching – our annual Pony Finals Collection is being released. Plus a customizable Sweatshirt for Pony Kids (just like #HORSEGIRL). TKEQ the shop will continue to release graphics throughout the year as well as extended colour ranges!
HG: Describe your perfect outfit for a girls night in.
TKEQ: My favourite three words – Girls Night In! My go to look is Leggings with an oversized Tee, usually tucked in at the front or tied (I size up in our Boyfriend Tee to achieve this look) add a Pullover if its chilly. Finish the look with a mini-backpack and some sneakers for any snack runs!
HG: Do you have any professional goals for 2019?
TKEQ: I am super excited to be attending AETA for the second time. I feel like its been a decade since I first showed up with my graphic tees and now I am showing the TKEQ Athletics Collection that has created a new category for equestrian apparel. I have also started to expand TKEQ the shop to include more lifestyle pieces designed to take you from the street to stable, with lots of layering elements for the modern fashionistas of the equestrian world.
HG: If you could have any celebrity or rider wearing your brand, who would you love to see pictured?
TKEQ: Karen Polle – for sure! She is such a lovely, positive, beautiful person. Seeing her in TKEQ Athletics would be amazing (plus I think Wings would love Bittersweet).
Thank you so much Kaelyn! We are all looking forward to seeing what is next. Use code HORSEGLAM for FREE SHIPPING! Shop HERE!
Answer to TKEQ riddle? TKEQ stands for TEAM KENNEDY EQUINE!