Equestrienne: Allison Malenfant
I met Allison and her partner Connie on Instagram and then IRL at the Jersey Fresh International 3-Day Event in 2018. We immediately hit it off and I found myself pausing while photographing the event to go and visit their vendor area. More, I couldn’t resist and had to try the Redingote outerwear for myself, preordering it right on the spot! I am a huge fan of their brand and these girls are making a difference in the equestrian market with many of their ambassadors and buyers big names in the equestrian world! And for good reason, the product is high quality, feminine, and my go-to for massage therapy appointments during winter. Read on to learn more about Allison and her brand.
Allison Malenfant is a retail merchandising and product development expert who has spent her entire career in the active apparel industry. She picked up horseback riding in her 20s and took her first lessons with REDINGOTE Co-Founder Connie DeMaio in Brooklyn, New York. Connie and Allison discussed their ideas for specialized equestrian products and discovered a shared passion for bringing new concepts to the equestrian apparel market. Their vision for a new clothing brand began in 2018 and has since become a fast favorite of equestrians worldwide.
Name Allison Malenfant
Brooklyn, New York
Hi Allison, what is your experience with horses?
Learning to ride has been a lifelong goal for me. I have loved horses my entire life and always wanted to be close to them in some way. After meeting Connie DeMaio (my friend and now business partner), who is a professional trainer, I decided to start taking lessons. I have been riding since 2015, and it has been the most amazing and challenging experience. I love every second of it!
Connie and I since decided to start our own outerwear line for riders to fill some needs we saw in the market. I have an activewear product development and merchandising background, so merging my career experience with my love of horses and riding really feels like a lot of things have come full circle!
What do you do?
Clothing Brand, Redingote Equestrian. Our product is technical outerwear designed for warmth and comfort in and out of the saddle no matter what the weather brings.
When did you begin your business? 2018
Why did you begin your business or pursue your passion?
I spent the last 8 years of my career in activewear development for a premium boutique fitness brand. I love the process of bringing products to life.
After I started riding, I wanted to wear the relevant brands, but often came up empty when I went to look for something specific. I noticed a lot of holes in the marketplace.
Meanwhile, Connie had a genius idea for one-piece outerwear – an idea that grew right out of her own needs and experience. After learning about it, I couldn’t get it out of my head. We had dinner one night and decided to tackle the perfect winter jumpsuit. We knew it could solve a lot of problems that riders experience in their day-to-day life.
I think we saw a ton of opportunity, and also felt we were a great match. With her riding and training experience and my fashion background, we have a pretty well-rounded skill set. For us, this is just the beginning. We have a lot of ideas and a big vision to fulfill!
What is unique about you or your brand?
You can’t find REDINGOTE anywhere else. We don’t have a competitor. Yes, there are outerwear brands, but we truly believe we have the absolute best version of outerwear for women who spend all day in a barn or at shows in the winter, doing their own work and hopping on and off of horses.
We spent a lot of hours planning, testing, and thinking about how our jumpsuit needed to function and perform for the user. And then we spent a lot more hours thinking about how women want to look and feel. We know we came up with something really special that empowers women to do their jobs without a lot of fuss, and feel great at the same time.
What challenges have you faced in life or business?
The biggest challenge in building a business is that you don’t know what you don’t know. We just reached one year in business, and so many of our decisions in the first year were just guesses. We researched as much as we could and drew as much as we could from our personal experiences and knowledge, but we made some significant mistakes. Unfortunately, there are no do-overs, but we’ve learned a lot and feel much more prepared for this next year of business in all areas – from our marketing strategy to our product game plan.
What keeps you motivated or inspired?
Every time I start to doubt or question myself or the decision to go into business, I go back to how much I believe in the product. I believed in it from day one, the first time Connie shared her ideas with me. I saw so much potential and that keeps me grounded, focused, and moving forward. Introducing a brand new idea to a very traditional market has a unique set of challenges, but I just always stop and remember why we started the business in the first place.
Who has influenced you and why?
My husband is a gifted entrepreneur. He founded his production company in 2013 and has seen dramatic growth year over year. He’s the type that just says “yes” to every opportunity and then figures out how to do the work later. He focuses hard on his people and operates with exceeding care and compassion. He never stops thinking or looking for the next idea to make his business better, in whatever capacity. I rely so heavily on him and his experience. He speaks very honestly with me – it’s brutal sometimes! I’d be lost without him.
Connie, obviously! While we have different skill sets and experience, we both jump headlong into projects and just have almost unwavering confidence that everything is just going to work out, even when we feel like we don’t know what we are doing! We are both very patient when it comes to seeing the big picture, and I think that has helped us not sweat the small stuff too much.
Having spent several years of my career at SoulCycle, I worked closely under founders Julie Rice and Elizabeth Cutler. I think just watching two incredibly smart, ambitious, creative and generous women start a small business and grow it into a fitness empire planted a seed in me for sure. I always say that I watched them build their business by giving things away, and I want to be sure to remember that as we grow and evolve.
How could your story benefit others?
I hope my experience helps others take a leap of faith. You don’t have to know everything. You don’t have to have all the answers. You don’t have to have a lot of money. You just have to find something you’re deeply excited about and be ready to do a lot of work.
Are you working on anything currently?
Getting our rain suit out as soon as possible!
What would you say to someone starting on a new adventure or business? What advice would you give?
My life motto about almost everything is “nothing is permanent.” You can always back out or change course. That being said, just do what you want to do, even if you aren’t sure it’s going to work out.
I certainly didn’t know if REDINGOTE would be successful when we started it. I felt extremely confident that it would, but you don’t know anything before it happens. We are still a very young company, and I still don’t know if it will be successful ultimately.
But I know that as soon as the wheels started turning, I couldn’t stop thinking about it and would literally have spent a lifetime wondering what would have happened if I had not found the courage to take the first steps. You just have to jump in, even (and especially) if you don’t know all the answers!
Website URL www.redingoteequestrian.com
Contact Email email@example.com
Social Media URLs https://www.instagram.com/redingote_equestrian/?hl=en, https://www.facebook.com/RedingoteEquestrian/
Photo credits: Philip Siciliano (@philip_siciliano)