Holly Andrews-Kramer

How Innovation Meets Style: An Interview with Holly Andrews-Kramer

Holly Andrews-Kramer, our English Performance Specialist, was the first employee here at Ariat. For 30 years she has played a major role in bringing innovation and cutting-edge technology to our most-loved riding boots.

Holly Andrews-Kramer, our English Performance Specialist, was the first employee here at Ariat. For 30 years, she has played a major role in bringing innovation and cutting-edge technology to our most-loved riding boots.

A lifelong rider herself, Holly’s competitive experience has been integral to her role at Ariat. Her latest work can be seen in our new Ravello boot, which combines elegant design and premium Italian leather with the performance attributes our boots are best known for. Already, the Ravello boot has received praise from some of the most accomplished equestrian athletes in the world.

We recently sat down with Holly to learn about her early days at Ariat, the Ravello boot, and how she continues to keep innovation top-of-mind in her role today.

You are endearingly known as “Employee #1” at Ariat, but what is your official title?

I am the English Performance Specialist here at Ariat.

How did horses become a passion of yours?

My passion for riding started when I was seven years old. I began taking lessons at a local barn in Southern California with my mom and brother. I immediately became obsessed with horses and my whole world revolved around them from that point on.

In which discipline do you ride?

I have always continued to ride and compete fairly consistently. I did slow down a bit when my daughter was seriously competing in her last junior years, but I started back up again several years ago. Right now, I ride Hunter/Jumper and have been showing in the Amateur Hunters.

You’ve worked for Ariat for 30 years, which is an incredible tenure. How did you get your start with the company?

As most riders know, the horse community is very tight-knit. A good friend of mine mentioned she knew two women who were starting a different kind of boot company, and my interest was immediately piqued because I was already working for a shoe company that happened to be relocating.

At the time, a traditional riding boot was designed almost like a men’s dress shoe with a leather upper and sole, and without any athletic attributes. Beth Cross and Pam Parker, Ariat’s co-founders, saw an opportunity to apply performance technology to riding boots to not only make them more comfortable but also more durable and supportive. This was transformative for the industry and for riders like myself, and I knew I wanted to learn more about their endeavors.

I met with Beth and Pam for lunch, and we really hit it off. They even gave me a pair of boots to test! Fast forward a few months and I’m negotiating my hire upon one condition: it was essential for me to bring my Jack Russell Terrier to the office. They agreed, and I became the first Ariat employee (and hence the dog policy was created).

What has it been like to be a part of the Ariat brand since the very beginning?

It has been incredibly rewarding to be a part of Ariat through the years – it truly feels like a family here. I’m surrounded by people who share the same passion for making incredible, enduring products and who believe in building a brand with integrity.

Since day one, Ariat has fostered a collaborative environment that is nothing short of inspiring. Across all our teams there are so many talented individuals who come together to raise the bar and design products that we are truly proud of. And, of course, we have fun! Did I mention we have a lot of dogs?!

How does your experience riding help inform your role at Ariat?

Most of my ideas actually come to me when I am riding. Riding gives me an insider’s perspective of what riders are looking for in a product both from a performance and aesthetic perspective. Being involved in the sport also allows me to have my finger on the pulse of new trends and demands in the market.

Ariat has evolved quite a bit over the last 30 years. How have you approached the evolution of technology in your designs and product launches?

Athletic footwear technology is always changing, and we take pride in our innovative approach to boots. Ariat has a talented innovation team that studies ways in which we can incorporate cutting-edge technology with classic boot designs. It’s always fun and challenging to find new ways to incorporate new technology with classic boot designs.

Speaking of product launches, can you share more about how the Ravello boot came to fruition?

After studying trends, traveling to shows and events, and working with our professional athletes, I worked with our Design, Development, Materials, Engineering, and Sourcing teams to develop and launch a collection that we think will be a market leader in the Performance English Equestrian category. It combines innovation, comfort, styling, premium materials and componentry, and durability that our customers have come to expect from Ariat.

What are you most excited about with the launch of the Ravello boot?

I love so many things about the Ravello boot and I think competitive riders at all levels will too.

We wanted to produce a top-of-the-line product appropriate for the best riders in the world, emphasizing an elegant design complete with the use of premium Italian leathers, while also incorporating the performance Ariat is known for.

The silhouette is beautiful and the Italian calf leather gives the boot a luxurious look and feel. I look forward to seeing the Ravello on top riders in the sport and being enjoyed by others that are looking for an elegant and innovative product.

What is your favorite part of your job?

Working with our product creation team to come up with world-class products is perhaps my favorite part of my job. I also love going to horse shows and spending time with our sponsored athletes, consumers, retailers, and internal teams to discover market opportunities and deliver a product that meets an unmet need of riders.

What do you think is your greatest strength as a leader?

I would have to say that my passion for the Ariat brand and my dedication to ensuring we are producing the highest-quality products for our customers have helped me become the leader that I am.

In our line of work, you need to be dialed into what is happening across the industry. I know firsthand the importance of having reliable equipment, whether during training or a show, so I’m able to bring this knowledge to my team and contribute to the development of products that not only perform but are also durable and accessible for all riders.

I’ve been lucky enough to have a career that aligns with my passion for riding. If you can find a job that involves something you love, you’ll be able to make an impact.