Behind every great idea is a story. For Kris Snowden and Trevor Shoemaker, the story behind their idea starts in front of a TV, watching a show that provided the fuel for their eventual business. When they went to the racetrack a short time later, a spark was fully ignited and a brand called Purses for Ponies was born.
Snowden and Shoemaker’s custom-tote startup is a blend of chic, charisma, and charity. Their own personal journeys and love of horses set the foundation for the idea, which is now a full-fledged business that benefits Thoroughbred aftercare at Old Friends farm in Kentucky. We wanted to learn more about what turned the two horse enthusiasts into entrepreneurs.
America’s Best Racing: It sounds like destiny played a role in Purses for Ponies coming to life. Tell us about how you connected as partners and what sparked the idea for the business?
Kris Snowden, Purses for Ponies: We were good friends in junior high and became best friends later in life who had common interests in camping, traveling, baseball, and most of all a love for horses. The idea for our business came from watching the Shark Tank episode of Niki Rasor’s Firefighter Turnout Bags. Inspired by a pocket from her husband’s expired firefighter gear, Niki recycled his turnout coat into stylish bags. Niki takes pride in the fact that her bags show respect for amazing firefighters and their gear while contributing to firefighter-associated charities. One day while watching the horses in the post parade at Santa Anita, I asked Trevor, “What happens to the saddle towels after big races?” His reply was “I don’t know but I’ll find out, why?” And that’s when the idea came to me; “Wouldn’t that be great to turn the saddle towels into tote bags and other purses and donate to Old Friends farm?” Trevor turned to me and said, “What a great idea!”
ABR: The name Purses for Ponies is so catchy. Who came up with it? Did you even consider any other name?
Snowden: While Trevor and I were learning about how to acquire saddle towels and manufacture purses, Trevor came up with a thought about what our name should be while on a bike ride. His thought was if the horses run for purses as a reward for the race, why not reward the horses that have finished racing in their aftercare programs. We never considered any other name because we knew that said it all.
ABR: Take us through some of the items in your catalogue. It looks like you’ve got a little of everything, including some seasonal and customized items.
Snowden: One of the main things we wanted to highlight was race-worn saddle towels. We want owners to be able to showcase and use their priceless memorabilia. We created a line of products that mimic saddle towels in different forms so all horse racing fans can enjoy these items, for example the Derby Tote which is an oversized bag that is a lot like our custom totes. We also have the Derby Purse which is a smaller version of the Derby Tote. The Charm Bag is great for carrying cosmetics or can be used as a wallet. The Sprint Bag is a unisex messenger-type bag which nameplates and horseshoes are attached to. Post position can koozies keep all drinks cold. And last, but not least, our Dr. B Bag is great for carrying computer and essential work items or for the handicapper carrying all he needs to win big at the track.
ABR: Why is it important for you both to have a charitable element tied to your business?
Snowden: The idea for our charitable element stems from our first horse experience together at Old Friends farm in Georgetown, Ky. Michael Blowen hosted War Emblem’s welcome home party. Meeting Michael and experiencing Old Friends together changed us forever. We knew moving forward we wanted to be a part of that but didn’t really know how at the time. Creating Purses for Ponies allows us the opportunity to give back to the horses specifically. It’s our main priority.
ABR: How can people find out more about Purses for Ponies and about getting their own?
Snowden: Our website is up and running at pursesforponies.com. You can also find us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Trevor can be reached by phone at 520-358-7673 and by email at Trevor@pursesforponies.com. Thank you for the opportunity!