This past year I feel like the equestrian world has been flooded with a multitude of new brands, which is awesome (I’m a big supporter of small biz), but this can make it hard to stand out. My favorite thing about buying from small businesses is the opportunity to connect with the brand, to find common ground, to make friends. I love hearing founders’ stories, and one in particular stood out to me – I deeply connected with the mission and story driving Forest Franzoi’s Herd of Zebras.
Forest has battled chronic endometriosis, a disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus grows outside of uterus, and is often extremely painful. It can also cause fertility issues, and in Forest’s case, it did, which ultimately led to divorce – all before 30.
I know from personal experience (as I’m sure you do too), that going through hardship can be extremely isolating. Everyone’s situation is different, and often times no one can truly understand exactly what you’re going through, because let’s face it – no one else is you. This is where Herd of Zebras was born.
I wanted to build a community of people who are there for each other no matter what. Period. We all have our “stripes” and I know what it is like to have others define you based on the stripes you bare. During times where I really needed someone who understood what I was going through, I could find no one with a similar story. I wanted to change that. I want people to be okay with their stories and know that when they feel alone that there are people out there who are willing to listen.Forest, founder of Herd of Zebras
I think this is so special and important in a time where mental health is being talked about more openly. I’ve dealt with clinical depression since 10th grade, and have been on medication ever since. It’s scary to be vulnerable and put that out there, but it’s a part of what makes me who I am. I’ve always hidden my medication because I was afraid of the judgement that would come with it. It seems everyone has an opinion on others’ mental health and truth be told I just don’t want to hear people who aren’t me or my doctor tell me I don’t “need” the medication, or for them to say “oh everyone has depression.” A safe place where our stories can be shared without criticism and judgement is desperately needed, and Herd of Zebras’ is here to be that. Plus, we’re all crazy horse girls who have been and continue to be healed in some way by our horses. It’s funny how the smell of the barn or the nicker of your horse can ease pain and create so much joy.
Herd of Zebras
We all have different stories or “stripes” if you will. All of our stripes are unique and beautiful.
H of Z‘s line is made up of soft, cozy apparel and accessories adorned with their super cute logo, and when I wear it I feel like I’m telling the world, “Hey I’ve been through some shit, but I’m stronger from it!” But also, the logo is superrr cute. What horse girl doesn’t love zebras?
So anyways, I just wanted to share this brand that is close to my heart and has brought me not only cute sweaters, but great friends as well. In this digital age we are all connected, but so superficially. I think we should use the power of connection and open ourselves up to be vulnerable and share our “stripes”, and help those in a dark place know they are not alone – we are not alone. So if you ever need someone to confide in, a shoulder to cry on, someone to just listen, I’m here, and so is Herd of Zebras.
All photos by Sara Shier Photography