This is the next in our series of showcasing entrepreneurs from within our Company.
Rachel Rayner-Lok is an award winning Master Saddler and Qualified Saddle Fitter based in West Kent.
She was drawn to the profession by her love of craft and equestrianism. This allowed Rachel a solid foundation on which to build her career.
Having ridden from the age of five and owned horses since she was eleven, Rachel has a true passion for equines and their welfare.
Rachel qualified with a Cordwainers Diploma at Capel Manor College in 2017. She continued her education at Nutwell Saddlery in Exmouth, studying under some of the industry’s leading professionals, where she became a Qualified Saddle Fitter.
In 2019 Rachel joined David Dyer Saddles in Kent, completing her apprenticeship to become a Qualified Saddler. She became the first person to win the Abbey England scholarship and the coveted Worshipful Company of Saddlers Award.
The courses and working experience gave Rachel the confidence to strike out on her own and set up her own business, creating Lok Saddlery and Leatherwork in 2021. She provides bespoke saddle fitting, leather repairs and commissions.
Reflecting on the success of her business, she recognises that the industry is filled with experienced, like-minded people who have remained encouraging and supportive throughout her journey.
Rachel’s top-tips for fledgling saddlers:
Her work has been featured on popular TV shows, and ranges from tack to furniture to camera cases.
Her commissions come from a range of sources including word of mouth recommendations; either from past clients or fellow saddlers. Rachel is fortunate to have a very supportive professional network in which to recommend one another.
She recognises, however, that it can be tough to get commissions. Because she is out fitting and dealing with clients face to face, this leads to conversation and then recommendations of bench work. Once clients have met you, it’s easier to stand out. Unfortunately she doesn’t have a lot of time for digital marketing as that’s a whole other career in itself, so she tries to do it in person with her clients.
Her strong background in both saddle fitting and benchwork allows Rachel to combine all sides of the Saddlery trade – which alterations should be made, and what they’ll mean for the client.
Rachel was promoted to Master Saddler in 2022.
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