Found in the county of Worcestershire, Rhea Freeman is well known in the equestrian and countryside industry for her marketing and coaching skills within rural business. Working with a variety of businesses, Rhea works passionately in getting a product and brand exactly where it needs to be. With a young family, horses and her famous dog Jam to juggle in her hectic coaching business, Samantha Hobden recently caught up with Rhea to find out more behind the story of her brand:
Your love for rural life comes across strongly Rhea. Has this passion been with you from your childhood?
Yes, kind of! I started riding when I was about sixish – despite my parents having no connection to horses at all. That said, Mum and Dad were really supportive, which was lucky as I’ve been addicted to anything equine since then! I think when you spend that much time in a field chasing naughty ponies that won’t be caught, pulling ragwort and a range of other equestrian tasks, you really do get a huge appreciation for the countryside, and that’s something that’s just grown and grown!
What was your childhood ambition? Was it to always work within an area that was countryside based?
It was actually to be a vet. I’ve always loved animals so it kind of made sense that I’d want to help them. The slight issue came in that I’m actually a bit squeamish… OK, I say a bit, I was filming a video at a vets a few years ago when a bone fragment had gone into the horse’s sinuses and was being removed. I had to go outside for a bit as I felt very funny! Another issue was that I had spent such a long time on yards, being hands on with horses day in, day out, and working alongside some really good instructors that I felt a really strong pull to this. Which I appreciate doesn’t seem quite the same… but I actually felt that the day to day aspect and teaching people to ride and care for their horses properly would be hugely rewarding too. So after getting some really good grades at school… I went to become a riding instructor.
When did you decide to step into the world of rural marketing? What advice would you give a school leaver who was thinking of a career in this line of work?
It actually happened by accident. I was always good at English at school and really enjoyed it too… so as I was instructing and looking after people’s horses, I had the opportunity to write a monthly column about it for a magazine… which I did…and loved. This work opened the doors to copywriting work for equestrian companies… and that opened the doors to the world of PR. And that has changed a LOT since I started! It was a crazy amount of hard work, but so rewarding. For school leavers, I would advise getting experience. Appreciate you will start at the bottom, learn all you can, work harder than you thought possible and be aware that you’ll need to do things for free/for very little to gain the experience. Experience can’t be beaten in my opinion.
What have been the challenges of working and running your own marketing and coaching business? Tell us about the highs and lows.
Not enough hours in a day is a common challenge. I have two young children so my business has evolved a lot since I had them… and I’m pleased it has but it takes some adjusting. I moved away from doing ‘straight’ PR as I call it about two years ago now to move into coaching as it was something I was being asked for and, in all honestly, with the way printed media is going, there’s a) so much more out there than traditional PR and b) a lot of people can do it themselves with the right support. That said, I do have a handful of clients I work with across their PR and digital/social platforms… but these are in the minority. The highs are definitely when projects I’ve supported clients with work well. And I’m really lucky in that there are a lot of highs. The lows are often technology based when something goes wonky, and the balance of being a good mum and present for that alongside working. The thing is, I really do love my work. I obviously love the children too, but to me, work doesn’t feel like work, so I get the lines blurred a bit.
Business in the countryside and equestrian industry can be tough? What advice do you give clients who want to improve their online presence?
Consistency is SO important. I see so many people try things for a few weeks and give up. That’s the thing, it won’t take a few weeks… and if you see success in that space of time KEEP GOING. Also, appreciate that everyone, even people who call themselves experts/gurus are JUST LEARNING LIKE YOU. The platforms change all the time. I’ve been called an expert quite a lot, which is lovely and makes me smile, but I just think that that badge means I’m keeping up with all the developments that are going on, learning about them and applying them/teaching them faster/better than your average person. It’s all a constant learning process… and just when you think you’ve got it sussed… they’ll tweak the algorithm. This is where people usually throw their toys out them pram. This is when you can win.
How long have you been horse riding? Do you manage to get in the saddle at all with work and a family life to juggle?
I’ve been riding since I was about six… and my cob Marilyn has been mine (OK, she owns me, I just paid the money to have that privilege!) since I was 16. In all honesty, I don’t juggle it well. The horses live at home and have a very lovely life as pretty lawnmowers. I’ve probably ridden three times since I had the children. There just don’t seem to be enough hours in the day and that’s the thing that has given at the moment.
Tell us about the animals that share your life.
I have three – two horses and one dog! I have Marilyn who is basically responsible for my life now, her son Gu, and Jam the dog. I bought Marilyn from my now mother in law… so she really is responsible for everything! Gu is Marilyn x Mill Law but is incredibly low mileage as he was a swine to back. And Jam. Well, she’s something else. Jam is a rescued trailhound who is without a doubt the naughtiest dog I have ever met. She drives me mad most days with her many, many quirks and attempts at/actual theft BUT she has a heart of gold and is a lovely person.
What are your future plans for Rhea Freeman Equestrian and Countryside Coach?
Where do I start?! I’ve given a couple of TEDx talks this year and have really enjoyed that. I do a bit of guest lecturing at a couple of Universities around social media and have said yes to a few other speaking opportunities too. I’m loving the Small & Supercharged Mastermind group – my new membership platform – and I’m so excited to be working with the businesses in there too. The Small & Supercharged Podcast is doing really well too… and that really excites me as I love doing that. So I’m multi passionate I think it’s fair to say. I think having this view means that I can develop in an all round way and share what I learn in different ways – through doing in some cases but through teaching in others. I have lots of plans and goals… so I guess you’ll have to watch this space a bit!
If you hadn’t had travelled down the rural themed career path, what would have been your Plan B?
That is a good question. Either something marketing/social media based or maybe something connected to equine health.
On a day off, where would we find you?
I don’t have too many of them, but probably at home reading, or at some hellish soft play area with the children. Why I have to get involved in scaling five stories of soft play is still beyond me…
Where do you hope to be in ten years time?
Honestly? I’m not sure. With the speed things are moving at the moment I can’t quite plan the minutiae of that, but happy, healthy, horsey and really helping our industry move forward.
Against the Clock
Schoolmasters or Youngsters: Schoolmasters… after backing Gu I’ll take schoolmasters any day of the week!
Champagne or Gin: Gin
Sunshine or Snow: Snow
Home Counties or Far Away Shores: Home Counties
Home Cooked or Eating Out: Home Cooked
Spend or Save: Save
Music or Film: Film
Horse Racing or Racing Cars: Can I say eventing instead?!
Please visit Rhea Freeman Equestrian and Countryside Coach
Image credits: Sophie Callahan Photography