Bri Mott, far left, and Fashion at the Races hold fashion contests at major racing events. (Photos courtesy of Bri Mott unless noted)
Bri Mott is a woman on a mission: to bring style and a new generation of people to the racetrack. With this goal in mind, she founded Fashion at the Races in 2012. In a short period of time, she developed her company into a major presence in the Thoroughbred racing world.
In its second year in existence, Fashion at the Races began a partnership with Longines to present the Most Elegant Woman contest at the Triple Crown races. Last year they expanded their alliance to include the Breeders’ Cup. Mott has experienced the fashion scene at Dubai World Cup, and this year Fashion at the Races has been invited to Hong Kong International Races to promote race day fashion and elegance.
FASHION AT THE RACES CONTEST AT ARLINGTON PARK
Photo courtesy of LymanDVM Photography
In addition to holding the contests, Fashion at the Races’ website and social media channels provide fashion inspiration and tips to racegoers. The website includes a store with a large selection of hats, fascinators and popular pony purses, and Mott helps women get ready for the races with personal fashion consultations.
Fashion at the Races is more than just a pretty face: the company has hosted events including a hat auction and brunch that supported Dress for Success Lexington. It also produces a calendar featuring famous Thoroughbreds paired with well-dressed models, and sales benefit a different charity each year. This year’s recipient is Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Farms.
A FASHION AT THE RACES CONTEST
Surprisingly, Mott did not grow up modeling or around horses. In fact, she did not attend a horse race until 2009. But she has always loved horses.
“I remember sitting on the back of the school bus, and I always had one of those huge coffee table books about horses,” Mott said. “I loved horses but I did not have the opportunity to be around them at that age, so I just daydreamed.”
Mott finally got a chance to work with horses when she was in eighth grade.
“I started working at a ranch where they gave trail rides. I worked in exchange for riding lessons,” Mott said. “But I didn’t really get lessons. I had to teach myself. I learned by riding bareback, falling off and getting right back up again.”
Mott’s love of horses led her to pursue a degree in Animal Sciences at Penn State University. While she was an undergraduate, she participated in the Kentucky Equine Management Internship and worked for Ashford Stud in Lexington, Ky. During this time, a visit to Keeneland gave her an introduction to horse racing.
“I liked the glitz and glam of horse racing, but there was still so much I didn’t understand. Later I was able to see how it all works, and I fell in love with it,” Mott said. “I believe we need to get people to the track using multiple marketing strategies and not rely on the horses alone. And that’s what led me to start Fashion at the Races later on.”
Mott said she was a bit of a tomboy growing up and didn’t start wearing heels until she was finishing college.
“You will not see me in heels or with my nails done 24/7. But I do like dressing up,” Mott said. “Getting out of the house all dressed up is a good feeling, and the races is the perfect place to do it.”
MOTT AT THE RACES
Her plan was to enroll in veterinary school after graduating from Penn State University. When she finished college in 2010, she worked for Hagyard Equine Medical Institute. Next, Mott travelled to New Zealand to work the breeding season with Windsor Park Stud. At the conclusion of this position, she went to Australia for fun.
“While I was in Australia, I went to the races, and I started studying their marketing strategies and why their racing is strong. They were using fashion to attract females to the track, and it was obviously working.”
When Mott arrived back in the States, she knew her heart wasn’t into pursuing veterinary school.
“I knew I had to come home and figure out what to do with my life. Right off the plane, my mom signed me up for a business/motivational seminar in Los Angeles. I thought it was going to be a joke, but it was fabulous! That is where I came up with the idea for Fashion at the Races. I drew the logo on a napkin on day two of the conference, and I started the website as soon as I got home.”
MOTT AT A FASHION AT THE RACES EVENT
Mott started modeling because of Fashion at the Races.
“We were setting up photo shoots for the first calendar. I became a model out of necessity because we needed people in the pictures,” Mott said. “I joined a modeling agency to network and find people in the area who could become part of the Fashion at the Races story. And that’s where I met my best friend.”
Her friends and family are very involved in Fashion at the Races, and Mott shares credit with them for its success.
“My friends go with me to the events and volunteer to help make them run smoothly,” she said. “My parents weren’t even horse racing fans, but they have gotten very interested and have given me a lot of good ideas.”
BREEDERS' CUP FASHION CONTEST
Fashion at the Races has also held contests at tracks including Keeneland, Arlington and Woodbine. In 2016, Mott plans to expand the fashion contests to include select Kentucky Derby prep races.
“I would like to activate a Fashion at the Races Trail. We want to visit tracks that are part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby. We want more contests to keep momentum going and to attract new fans. People are starting to take notice that we are marketing the sport successfully.”
In addition to running Fashion at the Races, Mott is director of customer relations for Team Valor, a stable of partnership-owned racehorses founded by Barry Irwin.
“It is the perfect job because it is marketing horse racing and making sure people enjoy the sport and its events, which is also the goal of Fashion at the Races,” Mott said.
Learn more about Fashion at the Races here:
Facebook: Fashion at the Races