With the right attitude, enthusiasm and determination, anything is possible, even when you don’t know where to begin. Smitten with classic prints, her equestrian lifestyle and an eye for style, Kimberly Barratt trusted her intuition and vision, creating her own successful company, affectionately known as Middy N’ Me, dedicated to equestrian clothing and beyond.
Inspiration & Action
Whenever she browsed through equestrian clothing and apparel at a tack store, she felt like something was missing. She’d envision bold printed collars and vivid colors. Barratt didn’t have a background working with fashion or fabric, but one day she expressed her ideas to her husband.
“My husband gave me $500 and bought me a new computer to give it a shot,” she says. “I set off to do what was in my head and try to make it come to fruition, which was a total trip because I didn’t know anything about clothing fabric.”
Initially, finding the right clothing manufacturer for her equestrian-inspired vision wasn’t easy. Many companies wouldn’t talk to or help Barratt since she didn’t understand the manufacturing language or have a design background. There were a lot of clicks and hang ups as the search persisted.
“Once you think about something like starting a business, it takes on a life of its own and becomes an obsession,” says Barratt. “You eat, sleep and breathe bringing something out of thin air and actually making it happen.”
One day, she began looking into companies making men’s form-fitting shirts for executives. She finally found a company online that agreed to make her samples, only to realize they were based out of Thailand. Determined to create the clothing she had envisioned, she jumped through frustrations of language barriers and communication to bring her shirts to life.
“I ended up having 18 samples made because I didn’t know anything about manufacturing clothes,” says Barratt.
Armed with her gorgeous new sample shirts, Middy N’ Me’s first debut into the world was at the Chagrin Hunter Jumper Classic. Her friends excitedly invited Barratt to be a vendor when a booth turned up empty.
“I got a mannequin, I ironed my shirts, and I went,” she says. “I didn’t even bring anything to write with. It never dawned on me that anyone would actually buy my shirts. We had a very successful show, and that’s how it all started.”
Middy N’ Me is appropriately named after Middy, Barratt’s beloved Belgian/Quarter Horse mare. Middy is boarded close to home at a large estate in Hunting Valley. It’s the perfect property for the fox hunting duo to spend their days riding through the expansive acreage.
“I bought her sight unseen, and she didn’t even have a name,” she says. “I named her Middleburg because I’m a fox hunter and I love Middleburg, Va. My husband started calling her Middy.”
Middy is a beautiful buckskin who happens to be a PMU rescue and an unexpected heart horse; Barratt describes her as an angel.
“She had never been handled and was very aloof and distant—emotionally wounded,” she says. “But she and I became very good friends, and she’s the horse of a lifetime. She’s taken care of me. There are no words to describe how much joy she has given me.”
Building a Brand
Middy N’ Me celebrated 10 years of business last summer. The brand has evolved and grown over the years. Initially, Barratt thought she would be designing shirts for women to ride in, but it turned out, women want to wear the shirts in everyday life, too.
“Equestrian style is a universal desire—people like it—it’s very pretty,” she says. “We don’t position ourselves as an equestrian company, but a lot of equestrians wear our shirts.”
Barratt’s true passion shines when she’s designing behind a computer screen. She loves fuchsia, kiwi green, turquoise, yellow and bright colors paired with ginghams and solids.
Every shirt, skirt or dress is made to order. The fit is an important part of the style and overall look. Every shirt is cut, sewn and made in the United States. After Kimberly’s wild ride making samples, she was able to find the factory in America she had searched for to produce her clothing.
Kimberly’s days are spent designing, keeping in contact with her factory, working with customers, and tackling her never-ending to-do list.
“It’s not for the faint hearted, but I love every minute of it.”