Twelve years ago, Elaine Lockheed-Castelao was jobless and a single mother with a 6-month old baby when a chance encounter in a supermarket brought her back to her early days of riding horses. She was standing in the store line and noticed the woman in front of her wearing an embroidered horse jacket. The two women began talking and Castelao learned that the woman was the first to try to make a horse saddle pad that used specially designed open-cell foam just like the insoles of running shoes.
Equestrian Saddle Pad business born from necessity
As an equestrian, Castaelao immediately saw the foam’s potential to improve performance and reduce discomfort for both horses and riders. And just like that, ThinLine Saddle Pads Horse Tack was born.
The open-cell foam, called ThinLine, reduced the equestrian saddle slippage and made it easier to sit on the gaits. What motivated Elaine even more was a horse she was caring for who had been previously abused. ThinLine was such a calming force, Elaine made It her personal mission to let horse owners know about this amazing saddle pad.
“I think that what makes ThinLine® so different is it really is a different product,” Castelao explains. “We’re different not only in what we deliver, we’re different because the universe bright this to someone who cared about making a difference.
Long journey and challenging times
It didn’t happen overnight. It took a long and challenging time to take a piece of foam and create a product line. The journey began by spending the first year cutting saddle pads on her hands and knees in a rented barn to developing more products. But it was her abused horse that led her do everything she can to make him feel safe and comfortable. She decided to cut a piece of the saddle pad foam to envelope the horse’s girth.
“When I put the foam on the girth, he was so much more comfortable, his fear went away and that was what really brought me to putting more products on the market,” she said. “I realized I had something that is a vehicle for comfort, happiness and harmony. It’s out there because the intention was that I had something in my hands that could actually help horses and people’s lives.”
Today, ThinLine® offers a unique collection of equestrian products that incorporate shock absorbing health benefits along with comfort for a quieter, closer connection between the horse and the ride. Castello said a variety of professionals from vertinarians to spinal surgeons, equine chiropractors to saddle fitters, and equine massage therapists to top trainers recommend ThinLine® for their patients and clients.
As Castelao puts it,
“When it is just about being with your horse, keep him comfortable and he will return the favor. ThinLine® is a vehicle for comfort, happiness and harmony.”
Padgett asks what are the key ingredients that have led to your success
Why/how did you decide to take the plunge and be your own boss?
“12 years ago a difficult turn of events left me single and jobless with a six month old child. I recall sitting at an intersection one day watching the vehicles go by: Lawn care, electrician, plumber etc. And I said to myself “what are you doing? You live in America. Opportunity exists, just look for it! Not long after that I came across a shoe insole material which I thought would work great as a shock absorbing saddle pad. Voila. A business and I could bring my child to work.”
What are some of the most important events/people that got you to where you are today?
“Score in Chapel Hill helped me immensely, writing business plans, setting up manufacturing and discussing distribution methods. Key Source Bank (Now Bank of NC) was started by successful entrepreneurs. They we willing to take a risk and gave me my first loan. NC Department of Commerce: assisted greatly in understanding exporting and designing an export strategy.”
What are some key milestones that you’ve reached along the way or goals that you hope to achieve?
“Hitting that million dollar a year mark seemed to elude me for awhile. Now I am focused on making the step to the 3 mm mark.”
What successes/failures have you encountered and learned from that you would share with other small business owners?
“Hire the right people. Do not be afraid to transition your team as you grow. Not everyone can make the shift from a business in your garage to a more serious and successful larger operation.”
What are some things that set you apart from other businesses in your line of work/industry?
“Female owned manufacturing.”
What are some essential aspects/resources that you could not survive/thrive without?
“The people who work for me. Including outsourced individuals such as my IT team and the Padgett Accounting team.”
Padgett’s 3 Wise Questions
If you could bake a success pie what are some of the key ingredients?
“Be prepared to commit everything to your business. Align yourself with successful people and listen to them.”
If you could go back in time to the beginning would you do anything differently?
“I would have transitioned my team sooner. I held on to too many people out of a sense of loyalty when they were not willing or able to make the transition from a mom and pop to a larger corporation. “
If could have lunch with anyone living or dead, who would it be and why?
“Merlin, so he could look in his crystal ball and tell me what to do and what not to do.”
2945 South Miami Blvd. Set. 120
Durham, NC 27703