Wonderful Women Interview with Founder of HRP Equestrian, Helen Ross
Helen is inventor of the revolutionary HRP WING® saddle pad and her unique product has revolutionised a global industry.
Helen’s life long passion for horses began at a young age where she spent hours studying their behaviour, riding and entering competitions as a child. Her enthusiasm for the equestrian world didn’t dissipate as she grew older and she later studied Equine Science.
Helen identified a gap in the market while riding her horse one day, after noticing ordinary pads were causing her horse pain and discomfort. Following a number of prototypes, and independent scientific proof to show zero pressure on the horse with her invention, HRP Equestrian was founded in 2014, launching with the HRP WING® saddle.
In 2016, Helen won best innovative design at the prestigious British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA).
HRP has a strong growth strategy with the product becoming known around the world. The wing pad is voted the top by numerous international publications following independent trials and is consistently ‘winner’ for innovation by top industry professionals. In January 2018, the Household Cavalry honoured HRP with the certificate of appreciation. There are more products now in the pipeline and Helen is also passionate about her Not For Profit organisation, charity Hugs 4 Lungs helping children with breathing difficulties.
Describe a typical day for you?
Nights roll into days in this house, especially if my 6 year old Hugo (aka Hugs), has had a difficult night with his breathing. This means I’ve needed to stay up all night keeping watch and maintaining his breathing throughout the night by adjusting his position/holding him upright. He has a life threatening breathing disability called Multiple Airway Malacia and Tracheobronchomalacia, which means his airways are narrow and floppy.
They flop and obstruct his breathing when he lays down to sleep causing him to suffocate internally. If he has a chest infection caused by him aspirating due to his unsafe swallow; then nighttimes are much more difficult.
On the whole, when Hugo is well, he sleeps propped up or with the device I invented which supports and maintains his breathing so we can all get a good night’s sleep. Nightimes are also when I receive the majority of calls from families reaching out to my children’s charity ‘Hugs 4 Lungs’, for support.
My typical working day starts early, way before my two sons wake up, I usually wake around 4-5 am and from my bed, I check my emails and if I’ve received any communications from any customers. My inventions are manufactured in the UK and exported all over the world so it’s important I have my finger on the pulse on all the different time zones. After the school run, my day is then focused on my HRP Equestrian business, which can include on-site visits, meetings with the Household Calvary, visiting my factory, and facilitating orders etc.
What do you feel are your biggest achievements?
My two sons are my biggest achievements, followed closely by one of my inventions which has done so much for equine welfare by enhancing horse’ comfort all over the world. My HRP WING saddle pads have revolutionised an entire industry and have received the highest industry accolade ‘BETA Int Innovation award’ and endorsed by Olympic riders, veterinarians and the Household Cavalry. My other baby is my not -for-profit organisation: Hugs 4 Lungs Children’s Charity, which helps families of children with breathing difficulties.
What’s in your handbag/ satchel?
Baby wipes and tissues for my two adorable mud magnets, my sons Hugo, 6 and Henry, 5. Notepad and pen, strawberry lip balm from The Body Shop, special pebbles my boys have picked and gifted to me, hand sanitiser, family photos, my purse, dairy-free snacks and Hugo’s breathing medicine.
What are your ambitions in life?
My ambition is to help others find happiness through my work and my inventions. To continue to learn life lessons quickly and gracefully and continue to endeavour to resolve any matters encountered with integrity and indomitable spirit.To equip my sons with the knowledge that they are incredible and through kindness, grit and determination, they can overcome and help others overcome all obstacles
What do you wish you’d known at the start of your career you now know?
I was naive, I wish I’d known that not everyone who tries to befriend you is authentic and genuine, some will deliberately try to deceive you to derail you for their own agenda. Remain kind and compassionate and work smarter, harder, better always seeing to improve on yourself and always be willing to help others but know when to walk away from any negativity.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
Hopefully 5 years older and wiser, with a great family and work life balance with additions to both! And still happy, healthy and positively grateful for all the blessings in my life that will have multiplied.
What advice would you give a budding entrepreneur?
Have an indomitable spirit! If you get knocked down 10x get back up 11x.
Know that you can overcome any obstacle and find a solution to any problem if you keep a positive mindset, work hard and believe you will achieve.
Ask questions, go to lots of networking events, read, read, read up on your ever changing market research.
Be kind to those you meet along the way as you may meet them on the way back down.
Embrace and enjoy the journey and celebrate every single success! Log all successes along the way that will keep you positive when times get tough.
Always be your true authentic self and be kind, true happiness comes from what we can do to help others.
Finally surround yourself with those who inspire you to be the best you and keep your ethical and moral focus on where you’re heading.
What advice would you give a new parent?
Be kind to yourself and to each other. In the early days and weeks I’d grab every opportunity to sleep, eat, rest, repeat. Listen to and do what your body and your baby needs, not what you think others are expecting if you. If you’re having visitors suggest they bring a home cooked meal so their visit is a help and not a drain on your already depleted energy. If you want to be an attachment parent and breastfeed, do it! Trust your instincts and know that to your baby you are their absolute world xxxx
Finally, happiness is…
True happiness is bringing happiness to others with your kindness and compassion, void of any agenda or ego. Helping others is the quickest way to heal yourself and find the true happiness that you deserve.