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Getting to know Horseshoe Hearts

Tell us about the Horseshoe Hearts Team

horseshoe hearts team

Images courtesy of Sophie Callagan

Horseshoe Hearts are a farrier and artist team.  Barry is the farrier and I, Faye am the artist. Though the running of Horseshoe Hearts has taken over a lot of what I do!  We have two daughters at home along with a rather large menagerie!  There is never a dull moment here!  We have a rabble of ponies, two chestnut arabs, and four native ponies.  Two rescue staffies, three cats, a trio of chickens that seem to have adopted us and a few finches.  It’s a lot of work but we all muck in to help either with the business or looking after the animals!

 

What does Horseshoe Hearts do?

Blacksmith at work

We work with horseshoes, creating hand forged gifts and homeware from them.  Most often, and as much possible we use ‘used’ horseshoes in our creations.  Creating with used shoes does mean a piece can take extra time and care in the making but that’s what we love and what fills our hearts.  To create with something that would otherwise be thrown away as scrap.  To retain the character of that horseshoe while giving it a new life.  I know that’s something that you feel passionately about at Mulberry Tree at home too. Traditionally only a ‘used’ shoe is considered lucky as the luck is struck into it with every footfall of the horse.  We think this piece of folklore is wonderful and we love to embrace it wholeheartedly.

We do also offer drawing of your own four footed friend on vintage book pages. This came about from a combination of my own pony mad but pony less childhood when I would consume every pony book I could get my hands on to feed my addiction!  I’ve since sought out damaged pony books whose original purpose perhaps can no longer be filled and I draw on them in pen and ink in sketchy pony book style to create original art that is infused with horsey nostalgia.  Ahh think of the days of jute rugs and thatching…

 

How did Horseshoe Hearts start?

Ahh it was Christmas time and as one of my gifts Barry had forged one of my pony’s shoes (It was Bear’s shoe, he was my first pony) into a heart. I was just thrilled with it.  It had so much sentiment being created by him and from Bear’s shoe. I also love handmade and unique, eclectic things and it had all of those qualities.  I told Barry that I was sure I couldn’t be the only horse mad person that would love to receive a Horseshoe Heart but to be honest at first he was doubtful!  To him they were just rusty old shoes, but for me who didn’t get their first horse until well into adulthood I saw the magic in every used shoe.  The rest though as they say is history, and even Barry now sees the beauty in rusty old horseshoes!  He especially loves it if we are sent a shoe from a client that is handmade rather than machine made.  But whether handmade or machine made you can tell so much about a horse or pony just from the size, shape, type and wear marks on a used horseshoe. It’s fascinating.

 

What do you love about running Horseshoe Hearts?

horseshoe heart

Ahhh this is going to sound very cliché but so much of what we do is surrounded, or borne out of, love and care.  It is sad when we are sent shoes from client’s whose horses have passed away and we often shed a tear when we read about their stories, but there is such love their too from the owners. That’s why they are having a keepsake made, out of love for that special horse or pony.

We also create a lot from our own or client’s shoes as wedding gifts.  A simple quote shoe up to our Original Single Linked Hearts or a Linked Pair, make a beautiful wedding gift and a lovely modern twist in the traditional gift of a used horseshoe to the bride on her wedding day.

This combined with our love of all things old and nostalgic make running Horseshoe Hearts a real pleasure. Receiving feed back from happy customers is also just the best thing. We do our upmost to give a good customer experience and good reviews are thrilling and also combined with a certain amount of relief, especially when working with a client’s precious shoes. We always have little butterflies of anxiety when working with them as we want so much to do a good job with the shoes we have been entrusted with.

 

What do you find difficult about Horseshoe Hearts?

Honestly, one of the hardest and the most gut wrenching thing? Copycats.

We invest a lot of time in trial and error with our designs.  We experiment, we often liaise closely with customer’s wants to create new designs.  We spend a lot of time making sure we produce items that are true to our story and our loves.  That of breathing new life into something old with simple, clean lines.  True to it’s past while creating a piece of new art that will last a lifetime.  Even figuring out the best way to photograph a piece and then editing those images is a time consuming job.

I think the nature of social media means that many people see that finished item, a complete image and the hours of work to design, create, and produce that isn’t immediately apparent.  To many it’s a good idea to be copied and replicated without any consideration as to all the hard work that went in to creating that original design.  It can be really tough when you’ve spent all that time and effort and within weeks copies pop up.  It can be heart breaking and you just wish people would behave with more integrity.

We believe that it’s important to find your own unique style, your own methods of doing things and develop your own brand and imagery.  That does take more time but it will pay dividends in the end as your work will be recognised as uniquely yours.  And, to be honest you’ll have a sense of pride in it.  Where is the pride in being an imitation?

Sorry, that was a rant!  You can tell we find that super upsetting!  Other than that, the only downside really is we are often completely and utterly filthy!  Haha!  Forget instaperfect images here!  After a days cleaning and forging shoes we are covered head to foot in rust and dirt, add to that the trials of a menagerie and we are often not fit to be seen!  We really should invest in some glad overalls.. but then a pony rips a rug, as they do and you know where the money goes then – they are better dressed than us! lol

 

What do you love about horses?

That’s a tough one, lots!  It’s partly the feeling they give.  Just the sight of them makes our hearts feel full and gives us butterflies in our tummies.  They seem to be made of the elements.  The swift thoroughbreds of air, extravagant arabs of fire and sturdy native ponies of earth. They give us the feeling of freedom and joy.  They are all at once so strong and yet so fragile.  And they are just so funny to live with!  I swear they also have the best sense of humour, though at times when you’re in a hurry their antics are not also welcome lol.  I do not know anything that makes me smile so much every single day and I am sure every horse lover feels the same.

 

What you would you like to be doing in the future and any future plans that you can share?

We are expanding our Braided Horsehair range.  We already work closely with Alison at Tail End Jewellery to offer our Braided Hearts and Horseshoes.  We will be opening up a braided option to many more of our designs giving the customer a wider variety of gorgeous equestrian keepsakes.

We are also in the planning stages of incorporating my artwork into a new homewares range “Horseshoe Hearts Home” which we are super excited about! Watch this space!

 

How important is being environmentally friendly to your business?

Ohhh massively!  I think if we all do what bits we can that can add up to so much.  All our  packaging is either compostable or recyclable and of course we are reusing horseshoes that would otherwise be scrap.  We put our creations into jute gift bags.  We loved the idea of jute, with it’s nod to the jute rugs of days gone by and Barry has memories of his father who was also a farrier having shoes delivered in enormous jute sacks.  So when we found the jute gift bags we use are organic and ethically sourced and can be reused or composted we were thrilled.  It’s a win win!  We are always on the look out for ways to be ‘greener’.

 

Your Top environmental Tip

Always be on the look out for ways to reuse or recycle! We used old riding hats as hanging flower baskets!  Just drill some holes through a third of the way up the hat, fill with compost and place plants within them! If you can pick bee and insect friendly flowering plants that will help them too!

So many things once they have perhaps reached the end of their original purpose can be reused for something else… it just requires a bit of out of the box thinking!

 

Your Top Tip for anyone starting a business

Starting your own business can be really tough, so make sure first of all you’re doing it because you really feel it in your bones and it sets your heart alight, because through the difficult days that will be the thing that keeps you going.  Secondly take some time to establish your values.  Your USP, your identity and your customer base that you will serve. This will give you a really solid foundation to progress from and it will help you stay in your lane and stay focussed on your own direction and not what others are doing.  Thirdly, please be original!  This will stand you in good stead and make sure you have longevity and help people identify your brand above others.

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