As we slide into 2024, back in November, we raised our glasses to celebrate the fifth birthday of 3 Donkeys! As we begin our sixth year of trading, I reflect on the incredible journey we’ve been on since we started. So, it’s a moment of pride for me to share some of the defining achievements and highlights 3 Donkeys has had over the last five years.
3 Donkeys in the beginning…
Just over seven years ago, after the lambing season in 2017, it highlighted the complete lack of women’s workwear available. One-size-fits-all workwear just made tasks harder, more inconvenient, and more uncomfortable. I wanted to create something practical, adaptable, and versatile.
So, over the year’s final months, I designed our first coverall. I promptly registered it with the UK government’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) before trademarking the business name and logo design, kickstarting what would come.
2018: First steps and Classic Coveralls
By spring 2018, I’d sourced a manufacturer based in Walsall, and together with our pattern cutter, Tony, we started developing the first coverall design. Because this was a completely new concept, it was challenging, not least in getting the waist zip concept working properly!
By summer, samples were made and tested with any adjustments noted and changed on further samples. We followed this with our first photoshoot in October in preparation for our new website, which was being built. To round off 2018, we launched our first ladies’ 2TO1® coverall, the Classic coverall, at the Equine Fair in Exeter on December 1st.
2019: New Dartmoor coveralls and events
Following the website going live in January, 2019 was a year focusing on boosting our range. New additions included a Navy Blue version of the Classic Coverall and a range of 3 Donkeys apparel. But crucially, we started developing the Dartmoor coverall, partnering with Ventile® and a new manufacturer in Scotland.
We were also kept busy exhibiting at several events, including the Royal Windsor Horse Show (we managed – somehow – to pull this together with just seven days’ notice!), the Burghley Horse Trials (launching the Dartmoor coverall after trials in the summer), Your Horse Live (where we met equestrian and dressage rider Charlotte Dujardin CBE), and the Equine Fair in Exeter. Phew!
2020: The Covid year
January started nice and busy, and we began working with our sponsored event rider, Imogen Murray. However, with the Covid-19 pandemic beginning to take hold, by April, like many other businesses, we were stuck in limbo. For most of the remaining year, we were only able to do enough to keep going.
However, with the arrival of Zoom in our lives, we opened up a world of networking opportunities, helping us to cement our standing in the workwear sector. But the year did end on a high as I was selected as a finalist for the South West in the Great British Entrepreneur Awards (GBEA).
2021: Out on the road and #SBS winning
With no major product releases in 2022 (though we started developing and sampling our next coverall, the Original), 3 Donkeys was kept busy by more events. We won Small Business Sunday in March, run by Theo Paphitis and announced on International Women’s Day.
Then we hit the road, attending our first show since Covid at the South of England show in June. Followed by travelling to our first Blenheim International Horse Trials show in September and London for the GBEA finalist’s event.
2022: The Originals and Leo partnership
After all our planning, January saw the launch of our back-to-basics, no-frills Original Coverall. But by May, we were back on the road, travelling to Badminton Horse trials for our first time exhibiting there. July brought news that we’d been chosen to be featured as one of the Small Business Saturday 100.
In September, we returned to exhibit at the Burghley Horse Trials. We were also invited by Small Business Saturday to the House of Lords in London to celebrate the SBS100 event in November. We also leapt into a new sector by partnering with Leo Workwear and developing our Exmoor 2TO1® Coverall.
2023: Award-winning products
2023 started big and got bigger! In February, I was selected as one of the f:entrepreneur #ialso100 alumni for 2022, which meant another visit to the House of Lords. In May, we received our test samples for our Exmoor Coveralls before heading back to the House of Lords, joining Small Business Britain at one of their small and mighty cohorts in June.
August saw us launching our new Exmoor Coveralls at the Burghley Horse Trials, and at the BETA International Show in September, we won New Product Of The Year. More trips to London followed. This time to visit TikTok HQ in October and the Grosvenor House Hotel in November for the GBEA awards after being selected for the South West. And we ended on another high as we launched our long-awaited Exmoor Hi Vis options.
2024 and beyond…
So what’s in store for 2024? To begin with, I’m excited about the Great British Businesswoman Awards on January 31st, where I’m a finalist in the ‘Creative Businesswoman’ category. Fingers crossed for that one! We also have a few plans up our sleeve, and no doubt we’ll be hitting the road again for more shows and events. So keep your eyes on our socials over the coming months.
But to finish up, I‘d like to thank everyone involved with 3 Donkeys. Our suppliers, supporters, partners, and everyone who works with us through the year. But also a H-U-G-E thank you to every customer for buying one (or more) of our coveralls, apparel, or accessories along the way. We literally wouldn’t be here without you!