Hi, I am Chloe Tornow, the founder of TORNOW Equestrian, and I wanted to take a moment to share my journey with all of you.
My equestrian adventure began when I was just 8 years old. I was gifted my first horse, Silken, by my parents, and I received riding lessons from my grandmother. Together, we delved into the world of equestrianism, participating in pony club and eventually competing in the show horse discipline. Riding became my passion, and it continued to grow throughout my high school years.
During this time, I found myself uncertain about my career path. To gain clarity, I immersed myself in various pursuits. Alongside my high-school studies, I completed courses in business administration and fashion design.
Determined to explore all facets of the horse industry, I even delved into the racehorse world, studying racehorse training with a component of track riding in my gap year. Additionally, at the age of 17, I embarked on a daring endeavour by starting my own online fashion brand borrowing $3k from my parents and imported shoes from China. Unfortunately, my lack of experience led to the failure of this venture, leaving me with half of the unsold stock occupying my parent's shed. (Sorry Mum)
Living in a rural area presented its own challenges, as I had to undertake long trips to continue my fashion design course while simultaneously making monthly journeys to study the track riding component at Morphettville Racecourse.
At a crossroads, I contemplated giving up competing and my race trainer studies to move to Melbourne for further studies in Fashion Design. Ultimately, I made the leap, relocated to Melbourne, and completed an Associate Degree in Fashion Design at RMIT. Inspired by my passion for equestrianism and fashion, I decided to establish my own equestrian apparel business, Tornow Riding Apparel.
However, this path was far from smooth. I encountered obstacles in finding suitable manufacturers, faced financial constraints, and the loss of my father. Overwhelmed by these circumstances, I made the decision to explore an internship opportunity at Vancouver Fashion Week in Canada. To support myself during this time, I juggled three jobs—two waitress jobs and one as a gym receptionist—while simultaneously fulfilling the demands of an unpaid internship.
Upon completion of my internship, I was accepted into The Wilson School of Design, where I pursued a Post-Graduate Diploma despite holding only an Associate Degree. This journey took me to Vietnam, where I collaborated with leading manufacturer Maxport to develop an equestrian apparel product for my thesis. Among my studies, I was fortunate enough to undertake a summer internship at MEC HQ, focusing on technical apparel design. Upon completion of my studies, I successfully proved my theory to be viable, and I presented my thesis to industry professionals.
After nearly three years of living abroad, I found myself drawn back to Australia. Initially pursuing a design position in Sydney, I soon realised it wasn't my true calling. Returning home, I continued my education, completing the final year of my Bachelor of Arts (Fashion) degree at Flinders University. This allowed me to leverage my course and simultaneously further develop my equestrian product. Upon completing my BA, I received the incredible opportunity to participate in the Helpmann Innovators Program.
My career journey has been filled with obstacles (as many people have), but one thing has remained constant: my unwavering passion for the equestrian sport. Last year (2022), I relaunched my brand, TORNOW Equestrian. Investing my savings and with help from the Helpmann Academy, I launched the brand at the largest equine exhibition in Melbourne, Equitana.
My goal for TORNOW Equestrian is to introduce innovative and ground-breaking products to the Australian and International markets. After attending only two shows thus far, I have conducted monumental market research and successfully sold out of one of my competition styles. This accomplishment has allowed me to pivot the business towards a more focused brand approach. I aim to prioritise designing for user needs rather than wants, creating high-quality products that enhance rider performance while remaining affordable for riders of all budgets. I am also dedicated to introducing improved safety products and environmentally sustainable options to the equestrian world. This is my passion, and I am excited to make a positive impact.