From the age of 10 Jordan McCabe was determined to become a designer of equestrian clothing. Now 15 years later she is running a million-dollar business, selling her brand world wide, winning awards and being named part of Forbes 30 under 30. What is the secret behind her success, where does she find inspiration, what are her plans for the future, and is her life really as glamorous as one would think? Meet this extraordinary and emphatic entrepreneur who still to this day has immense love for horses.
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Most girls don`t know what they want to do with their life when they are just 10 years old. They spend their time by hanging out with their friends, doing sports and other activities, playing with toys, basically they are just enjoying their childhood.
Jordan McCabe on the other hand was already drawing up her first designs, quirky pink and glittery purple outfits both for her and her ponies to wear, and planning her future - all in between taking lots of horse riding lessons.
"I was around 7 years old when I had my first riding lesson and was hooked from the beginning, I loved horses, everything about them and wanted to ride all the time. When I got my first pony I was 9 and started showjumping at 13. Most of my teenage years were spent at the yard," Jordan remembers fondly.
The free time that was left between lessons, stable work and competitions, Jordan McCabe spent on drawing up her first designs, since equine clothing from top brands were too expensive. Due to the costs of having a horse and participating in competitions, she couldn`t afford to spend lots of money on riding clothes.
"It got me thinking, if it would be possible for me to create a range of clothing for girls like me who wanted stylish, well-made clothing but without the hefty price tag."
In her late teens, Jordan took her dreams and ides to college, where she studied business and textile design but unfortunately it lasted only for a year. Her grandmother passed away, leaving Jordan with an inheritance that prompted her to write a business plan and start something of her own. So, in 2014 Aztec Diamond Equestrian, named after Jordan`s first and only own horse, was launched, and it started of with a bit of a design revolution. ”When I started the brand, riding leggings weren’t a staple in an equestrian’s riding wardrobe,” she explains about originating the now well-known and loved design.
“Riding leggings are now one of the most successful products in the marketplace, offered by every brand. This is something that I’m immensely proud of! Volume of competition has increased; a lot of AD replicas have immerged. But if people are copying, we’re obviously doing something right,” says Jordan who up until the 2022 collection has designed everything herself.
“I’ve always been a very creative person, which I think originated from my grandma. I have only recently employed a design team, which has been the best decision. It was very difficult to keep up with the demand of product development, along with running the business which was taking a toll on both sides. But I`m still deeply involved in design and work very closely with the designers."
Since the establishment of Aztec Diamond Equestrian, the collections have been exclusively sold online. Which, from Jordan´s perspective has had its pros and cons. Pros are that an online business is very efficient. All stock is on site, and there is full control of dispatch and product quality. Cons are that there is little interaction with the customer in terms of being able to build personal relationships, face-to-face feedback, and there are no fitting sessions.
“But we do a few shows every year and thoroughly enjoy them. It’s amazing to meet our customers, talk about the products, gain feedback and actually get to know the customers."
Speaking of online presence, Jordan decided from the get-go to use social media as her shop window. So instead of regular bricks and mortar stores and traditional marketing, she started by showcasing her products through stylized photos and videos via social media.
Equestrian stars regularly appear on Aztec Diamond`s blog, the brand´s Instagram account has more than 274.000 followers and Jordan has just partnered up with her first sponsored athlete, top level show jumper, Ellen Whitaker.
“Ellen is an incredible rider and has great values as a person, she is a perfect fit for the brand,” Jordan explains. “I was inspired by Ellen since I was a young rider myself, so it was a dream come true for me when we signed her. I worked with a PR-manager on the brand for a few years who became a good friend. She started working with Ellen on a couple of projects, then introduced us. We once had dinner together and this is when had our first conversation regarding the partnership.”
With all the success and the hype on social media, one can´t help but wonder if Jordan´s life is as glamorous as expected. Well, the truth is - not really.
“Instagram is a funny thing; you only see the good side. My day-to-day life is not easy and certainly not glamorous.”
“Instagram doesn’t show you the 14-hour days, and 7 day work weeks which is what my life has been 90% of the time for the past 6 years. Anyone who knows me knows how hard I work, even when I do go on holiday my laptop is always with me – it's 24/7. Luckily, I now have a fantastic team around me giving me a better work and life balance. I have done every job within the business at some point, most of the time multiple roles at the same time. I´ve just always been very dedicated to the business, so I did miss out on a lot of social aspects when I was younger. But it was all worth it, and I am making up for it now,” says Jordan McCabe.
No doubt this hard work and determination are key elements in paving the way for Jordan to both win awards for her innovative design and being included in Forbes 30 under 30 list.
“Being included on Forbes 30 under 30 was the most incredible, emotional event for me. It made me feel like every hour of work over the past 7 years was completely worth it in an instant. It was a complete dream come true for me, I will never ever forget it, and it will always be the highlight of my career to have won it at such a young age.“
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What originally started as a childhood dream and a family business with just Jordan and her mother who left her job to become joint director soon after the launch, her stepfather and her cousin is now a part of a world-renowned brand which has doubled its turnover each year since the launch in 2014. And last year it hit $2,6 million in sales.
Being able to steer through such a process requires more than average person`s discipline. But the truth is that Jordan never had a moment where she thought of giving up. “I have never wanted to quite, I love what I do. I love running a business, designing and my staff. AD is a great place to work with incredible people, we all get along so well. It’s like a big family.
I think one of my strongest characteristic’s is faith, I’m a very positive person - there’s always a solution. I would say empathy is another strong trait of mine. Along with being able to admit when I’m wrong and asking for advice when needed.
"my weak point is that I don`t like to compromise when i have a vision. I`ve been working on improvements, which is a lot easier now when I have a bigger team.”
Design will always be Jordan´s passion. It is also how she gained the huge success in the first place. Over the years she has spent a lot of time on researching older collections and runway shows during fashion weeks.
It really has been an amazing journey for the young County Durham-born Jordan McCabe. She turned her childhood dream into reality. And along the way, she learned that the process of designing is a far more complicated process than simply having an idea, sketching the design and then voila – the product is ready to be sold. It does take quite a long time from idea to sale.
“Well, it totally depends on the product and if we already have the pattern and necessary technologies for development. Our standard time horizon for a new product is 52 weeks. Some products can take less time, some much longer! For example, our new breeches which were launched in September 2021, were in development for nearly three years. They are amazing but took a lot of time to get them perfect.”
With the success of it all Jordan feels that a certain amount responsibility follows. It has led her to focus on sustainability and team up with a company called reGAIN.
“We have a huge problem with not only fast fashion brands, but all fashion brands in general impacting global warming. I feel it would be irresponsible of me to not take steps to make my brand and products environmentally friendly. We have made all packaging biodegradable and plastic free. Another huge step we’re taking is starting to use recycled materials in production. Our new icon leggings are made from a fabric which has been created entirely from recycled plastic bottles!”
By doing so Jordan McCabe takes responsibility and helps lead the way for other young aspiring entrepreneurs. But has inspired her along the way?
“Two incredible women who inspire me massively are Stella McCartney and Victoria Beckham. They are both extremely talented designers who’s brands I hugely aspire to. Both of them focuses on modern contemporary looks with a huge focus on well-fitting product. They are also incredible businesswomen with very strong values. Stella McCartney’s mission to make fashion sustainable is hugely inspiring, and something I hope I can do as well.”
After all, this whole adventure started with Jordan´s love for horses. But how much time does she actually have for horses these days? Is it even possible for her to sneak away from the hectic work days for a walk in the woods?
”When I launched the business in 2014 my horse, Aztec Diamond, sadly needed to be put down. I became so busy, and felt that it wouldn’t be fair to have a horse as I was traveling. My break from riding was almost 5 years long. I have recently just started riding again and have fallen in love with the sport all over again. Can’t believe I had a break for so long! It really is like riding a bike, I’m a bit rusty but you never forget.”
All photos kindly provided by Aztec Diamond Equestrian.