In the eyes of Marie Germain, founder of Brocéliande Saddlery, who opened her doors in early July in Ploërmel (Morbihan).
Marie, age not waiting for the number of years, here you are as a business leader at 23. What is your background?
I'm originally from Normandy, but we moved to Brittany, in Ploërmel, when I was ten. I started riding very early because my uncle had a small farm in Normandy, so I was immediately in contact with horses. As for my studies, I chose to pursue a BTS in commercial management - I needed practical and operational education - and followed that with a course in commerce and marketing. My apprenticeship at the Padd store in Vannes matured my idea of creating a saddlery in Ploërmel. We're located 40 minutes away from Rennes, Vannes, and Lorient, and there was no dedicated equestrian retail store. Since I was well integrated into the local equestrian community, I saw an opportunity.
Where are you with your project?
In the fall of 2022, I started looking for a location and signed for a plot of land in a new business zone in the city, located in front of the agricultural high school La Touche. I had to convince the banks to support me, which is not easy at my age... The 500 m² building is under construction and will be delivered in April 2024. I opened the store on July 8 in a temporary location, which allows me to start building my customer base and identify their needs. The initial feedback has been very encouraging; customers tell me that the local offering was lacking, and they are excited about this opening. I'm going through my first back-to-school season, which is a critical period as all budding riders enroll in equestrian centers.
Based on your early experiences, what can you tell us about the 2023 customer profile?
Since the pandemic, their consumption habits have changed. I feel they are more attentive to local products, more interested in "Made in France" items, and they scrutinize product ingredients, leaning towards those that promote the well-being of horses. For several years now, we've also seen a rise in safety-related equipment. It's not uncommon now for equestrian centers to require their members, especially the younger ones, to wear protective vests. As for Ploërmel's customers, they are very friendly and less reserved than those in Vannes or larger cities.
How does Ekkia support you?
I got to know Ekkia through my internships in saddlery and, of course, my apprenticeship at Padd. This has a significant advantage for someone like me starting out. My sales representative, Alain Delahaye, helped me determine my stock size and made sure I met the teams in Haguenau who would support me throughout the year. Plus, Ekkia offers an unmatched range of products and a portfolio of brands, which makes it both simpler and more secure for me.
What is your favorite human or relational quality, and what do you dislike?
I'm a jovial person, I enjoy interacting with people who come to the store. It's essential to better understand their expectations. Beyond the act of purchasing, we also discuss their experiences and the health of their horses. Since I have two mares, Patachou and Isylle, we speak the same language. And, of course, conversely, I have more difficulty with closed-off individuals who don't engage in conversation.
Not exactly a motto, but it's always about moving forward and not stopping in the face of obstacles.
One word for Ekkia?