She was following her dream. She “worked her butt off for it.” Then she was told she didn’t make the cut.
When junior Lindsay Dyer (B.F.A. advertising) came to the Savannah College of Art and Design it was because it was one of the few schools that offered a bachelor’s degree in advertising and a collegiate equestrian program. But pursuing both didn’t come easy.
During her freshman year, she tried her best to get on SCAD's equestrian team. She worked out, she knew the sport, but her background was in jumping contests whereas many of SCAD’s competitions focus on poise and balance — called equitation.
"I didn’t make it,” she said hesitantly, recalling her first tryout.
Part of the rejection still stings, she says, but it served as fodder for motivation. She could have given up, but she decided “to be tenacious” instead.
“I put my head down and got focused,” she said. “I knew I had a ton to learn. So I started training more.”
Another year passed, another chance came and her hard work paid off. Dyer remembers vividly when she was notified last year that she made the team. She laughs and smiles when asked about it. As fresh as the sting of rejection sometimes feels, triumph feels fresher, she says.
“It was an amazing moment to make the cut,” she said.
Since then, things have only gotten better for the Kansas native. Dyer was recently selected as one of two brand ambassadors for Equine Couture, a fashion company that specializes in riding gear.
“It was my idea,” she added. “I just reached out to the company about it. They’ve never done this sort of thing before."
There's a shared lesson in trying out for the SCAD equestrian team and reaching out to Equine Couture, Dyer says.
"You’ve got to be tenacious and stick your neck out. You’ve got to advocate yourself and go for it. With Equine Couture, I saw a need, I sent an email and now I’m a brand ambassador.”
When Dyer contacted the company, she pitched the idea that she would promote their brand using her Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts. Dyer says many companies are looking for a way to break through the noise of competing ads by finding brand ambassadors — real humans who love a product enough to market it organically.
“Equine Couture loved the idea,” she said. “Over the years, I noticed other brands creating ambassadors. So I approached them with the concept that I would endorse them through social media. They gave me free clothes to do it! It’s a great trade off.”
It helps that Equine Couture fashion is something Dyer knows well.
“I’ve been wearing the brand ever since I’ve been riding,” she said. “Their clothes are comfortable. They fit me so well, which makes me more able to focus on my riding.”
Since officially becoming an ambassador last month, Dyer has been getting 20 to 30 new followers on her social media pages a day, thanks in part to Equine Couture’s own marketing. When she started her Instagram account had roughly 400 followers. Now it's reached more than 1200.
“It really is a perfect trade off,” she said. “They get great marketing and I get the experience. It’s been a great learning opportunity."
Dyer is currently gearing up for the Tournament of Champions Preseason Classic, which kicks of college-level equestrian competitions for the 2014-2015 season. That contest is set for Saturday, Sept. 20, in the Baltimore suburb of Towson, Maryland. Meanwhile, the first Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) competition is set for Saturday, Sept. 27, in Tallahassee, Florida.
“Riding has always been my priority, ever since I was 7 and my parents got me riding lessons," she said. "They thought I was being a crazy kid, that it was something I’d grow out of at some point. Now, it’s something I can do in my adult life. It’s been fantastic to be able to continue that passion while still studying what I love with advertising. It’s really amazing how it just worked out at SCAD.”
Which wasn’t the initial plan, Dyer added.
“I never saw myself as an art school kind of person,” she said. “I was even touring another university when I thought ‘this is way too traditional for me.’ I needed a strong art and advertising program. When I learned I could get that, along with having a chance to pursue equestrian competitions, I knew SCAD was for me. I couldn’t find that combination anywhere else.”