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  • EKKIA

Épisode 09

🎙 Meet Julien Lecomte, Ekkia's representative on the North American market since 1 January, who tells us about his career and the specific features of the market.


What was your journey that took you from the Breton coast to the shores of Florida?


Indeed, I grew up in Brittany, near Saint-Brieuc. I started riding ponies at seven years old and began competing with my club in Plérin, which gave me a taste for competition and friendship. Thirty years later, I still see my team friends. In terms of education, I went to a business school, and naturally, I looked for my first job in the equestrian field, specifically at a saddle shop in Paris. After that, I had a stint in temporary work and then in frozen foods (yes, really) before accepting Jean-Michel Devoucoux's proposal to establish his saddle company in the United States. That was in 1999, and I'm still here!




Your beginnings across the Atlantic, the characteristics of the market: tell us about them.


Looking back, I was fearless :) I went from stable to stable with cards summarizing the speech I had to give to my clients, while I was learning English... Thankfully, the French were well-regarded, which made my 50,000 annual kilometers less painful. I proved myself and then moved to Antares Saddlery, then the equestrian division of Hermès NY, and finally Samshield, with the goal of introducing the brand's helmets to the North American market. These experiences were very educational, helping me understand how clients operate, what they expect from brands, what they don't like. Here, the clientele is much more elitist than in France, with a rather traditional taste. No craziness in terms of design or colors. They want known and quality products. I always tested products with trainers and professional riders: "Do you think this can work?".




Your encounter with Ekkia?


I had met Pascal at the beginning of my career; he was working on Padd's development at the time. Last summer, we met again at an equestrian trade show in Dallas, where I discovered Ekkia's ambitions for development in the North American market. After that, everything happened very quickly. In October, I came to the headquarters in Haguenau to meet the teams, to better understand how the company was structured and organized. I met passionate people, with the same positive energy that Pascal and Monique have. In January, my team and I were trained on Ekkia products because the commercial and strategic approach differs from the very "luxury" products I had been distributing until then, and the customer base is much broader. Now it's my turn to promote the French Touch!




What have been your most beautiful encounters since your beginnings?


Certainly, my meeting with Jean-Michel Devoucoux marked the course of my career. He was a trailblazer; he had the insight to turn towards the United States. Since then, a saddle must be French, like good wine. Then, I have the chance to rub shoulders with great champions, sort of like the Tiger Woods of equestrianism. Like Mclain Ward, an American show jumping rider and Olympic champion, a star here. In my previous company, I went to his stable two to three times a week to have him adopt our products. Big names reassure practitioners; it's a real brand booster. You can have the best product in the world and still remain invisible...




The human qualities you appreciate and what you cannot stand?


Honesty and kindness. I would struggle to get up in the morning thinking, "What dirty trick will they play on me today?" Conversely, lies, omissions, betrayal. If the desire to succeed is mutual, it's priceless.




Your motto?


I have two to propose to you, but they come together: "Failure is not an option" and "Victory belongs to the most obstinate", a quote from Napoleon that Roland Garros inscribed on the propellers of his planes.




Ekkia in one word?


Impressive. A meticulously organized and very professional organization in an equestrian environment that can sometimes be a bit artisanal.


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