A teenage rider who started her own business aged 14 has reached the Miss England semi-final.
Young entrepreneur and model Ava Whetstone-Magee, 16, was inspired to launch her equestrian clothing brand while caring for her loan horse, Toby, on a dark autumn night in 2020 when she became stuck in knee-deep mud.
She shouted to her mum, who had a torch, but could not see her – which resulted in a light-bulb moment to design a range of stylish high-vis clothes.
Ava’s business, Avalanche Equestrian, has grown from a small business to becoming what is believed to be the first equestrian brand in a shopping mall in England.
A year after the initial launch, Ava faced the “devastating” loss of Toby.
“Toby became ill in November 2021 and passed away from cancer,” she told H&H. “I was heartbroken.”
The day after Toby died, Ava found out that she had the go-ahead to open a shop in Midsummer Place shopping centre in Milton Keynes.
“I felt Toby did this, he’s telling me not to give up and to keep going, so I have,” she said.
“It’s the same with Miss England, I saw an opportunity as a young woman to have a platform to say I’m proud of what I have achieved so far and no one should be put off by self-doubt.
“I just feel like Toby is pushing me to move forward and grab opportunities.”
Ava, who started riding when she was three, received a wildcard to the 2022 semi-finals, which take place on 22 August.
She takes her GCSEs this summer and balances her studies between riding, modelling for Gym Club, and running Avalanche.
Ava’s first high-vis line (“See Me”) was followed by a hay-repellent yard range, in collaboration with Bed Down Bedding. She has plans to launch a ride range at the Royal International Horse Show and will be exhibiting at other major UK shows this summer.
“Miss England is about empowering young women,” she said. “It would be amazing to get to the finals. It’s an experience I never thought I’d have, so I’m going to enjoy every minute.”
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