In the eyes of Marilyn Reille, owner of Sud Equitations.
As the daughter and granddaughter of shopkeepers, were you predestined to run a shop yourself ?
It's true that in my childhood, I spent a lot of time in my grandfather's bakery, my father's restaurant and my mother's and grandmother's hair salon! The kind of experiences that give you a taste for work and independence. I started my professional career at home, in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, as a commercial beekeeper. I sold beehive products to professionals. And I had a passion in parallel, that of horses. As the department was poorly covered, I decided to set up a saddlery and went to see my bank which told me: "It will never work". That was not knowing me well. I bought an old van, my first stock in Ekkia, and went on the road. I stopped as soon as I saw a horse :) It was 7 days a week.
Then came the time to settle down with the opening of the Sud Equitations shop in Manosque.
I found it wiser to put my bags down and open a first point of sale, at my home, then in 2000 the shop where I still am, 23 years later. And as everyone knew my van, customers naturally came to the shop. Here again, a very intense job between the shop and the weekend competitions. From then on, the little saddlery in Manosque was part of my customers' landscape, I equipped several generations of riders.
Precisely, were these riders the same in 2000 as in 2023?
Today's clients are like society itself, they want everything right away. There is a risk that they will turn to the internet. Another development is that they come into the shop knowing exactly what they want. It's up to me to make them change their minds if I think that the material is not suitable for them. I was recently discussing this with my doctor, who is faced with the same situation: his patients get information on the internet, make their diagnosis and arrive at his surgery already having the prescription in mind! So I struggle. I want to see people in the flesh, I want to have clients who look like me, I want to say hello, I want my client to show me the photos of his weekend competition. And then there is the power of influencers. Recently, a little rider took part in a live show with an influencer. She was wearing Penelope's Lyon jacket. It immediately made a big impact on sales.
A nice meeting?
I have many nice encounters, I see my clients' families grow, I know the names of their horses. The relationship necessarily goes beyond the commercial framework. And I also have the satisfaction of seeing my customers become horse professionals: instructors, breeders, grooms, equine osteopaths, saddlers, riders at the Cadre Noir de Saumur, CSI riders, jockeys, show jumpers... They always come to visit me in the shop where they started, they still ask me for advice despite the high level, it's very gratifying.
How would you describe your relationship with Ekkia today and how do you see it developing ?
First of all, I initially chose Ekkia because I had a very wide range of products in one order. I started with them, they are part of my life. And I have remained loyal, thanks also to Pascal Rambert, the salesman in my geographical area. We've been doing business together for 26 years! From my point of view as a distributor, I see Ekkia as a company that is always one step ahead, that constantly brings in new products and brands, that never rests on its laurels. Orders are placed via the internet but if I need to call, I'll get an attentive and reactive ear. As a line of thought, it would be interesting for Ekkia to distribute Ekkia POS materials for us (hangers, bags, gift wrap, etc.).
What is your favourite human or relational quality and your worst flaw ?
The number one quality for me is honesty. On the other hand, any form of betrayal is unacceptable.
Always with a smile.
Ekkia in a word?