Brand Spotlight: Tuffa
This week, Kim sat down with designer, founder, and CEO of Tuffa, Michelle Girling! Michelle uses her 40 years of in-depth experience of the horse industry to provide high-quality footwear at a reasonable price. One of her main passions is designing boots to fit riders of all shapes and sizes. This has helped position Tuffa as a well-established brand within the equestrian market. Read on to learn more about the latest brand at EQUUS.
Tell us a bit about you
I come from a background of horses. I was an active member of The East Grinstead Riding Club and competed at the Royal International Horse Show at Wembley Arena in the Teams of 3 where we finished 3rd. I went on to compete in BHS Horse Trials and enjoyed producing young horses.
How did you get in to an equestrian business?
My interest in the business side of the equestrian industry really started in 1989 when I started retailing at shows like Hickstead, the Dublin Horse Show and various County Shows. “Trade stands” at these events then became so popular and acquired a good reputation for selling quality at great value.
Why did you set up Tuffa?
Having done the shows, I then focused my attention on designing a range of footwear. I love to find gaps in the market, ie where customers can’t find what they’re are looking for, maybe a certain style of footwear with a specific fit or to do a particular job. In 1997 Tuffa Boots was officially launched at Badminton Horse Trials.
What customers are you aiming at?
My aim was simple: to create top quality, affordable footwear for country and equestrian enthusiasts of all levels, from avid pony clubber to county show competitor. Some 22 years later, I remain resolute in my goal and the range has expanded dramatically.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
Identifying gaps in the market, then developing a boot to fill it. Take the Breckland and the Broadland. I was aware that riders were struggling to find footwear in the larger foot and calf sizes So I designed these boots specifically for these customers as they have little or no choice of a long riding boot. Both are available in sizes 3-12 and come in 3 calf widths of standard, wide and extra wide.
The range also includes, the Showtime Riding Boot – an example of boot that has a specific job to do. Designed with the help of show rider Lynn Russell, it is as its name suggests, specifically designed for the show ring. Made in a traditional style with a straight top and a garter strap detail.
I find helping riders in this way immensely satisfying and rewarding.
What well known riders wear Tuffa boots?
Tuffa’s boots are endorsed and adored by many, from the company’s happy customers through to professional riders which include Lynn Russell from Showing, Joseph Stockdale from the world of Show Jumping and Grand National Winning race horse trainer Sue Smith, who all choose to wear Tuffa Boots.
Excited to see more? Shop our range of Tuffa footwear here.