We caught up with Danish-born American Grand Prix rider, mother, businesswoman and fashionista Charlotte Jorst. We discuss how she took her business Kastel Denmark to the pinnacle of the equestrian fashion world, all whilst juggling family life and being an international dressage superstar. Her drive, passion and work ethic will leave you breathless.
TE: Hi Charlotte, most people will know you from competing on the international dressage circuit. When did your love affair with horses and riding all start?
Charlotte: I just love horses and I rode ponies as a child. when I was 18 my dad passed away and the money was no longer there. I stopped riding and started to build our company up. At the time I had 2 children and when I was about 40 I started doing hunter jumper with my children. So it really did start as a family affair.
TE: Tell us a little bit about how Kastel Denmark started. What inspired it? How did it all start?
Charlotte: In 2012 we sold our company that we had been building and I told everybody that I now wanted to go to the Olympics and compete in dressage. Everyone thought I was nuts as I had very little experience. I started riding several horses a day in Nevada in the sunshine. It only took 3 months and I had my first bout with skin cancer. The doctors told me that I should no longer be outside in the sun. I was devastated as I dreamed of riding internationally and competitively for 25 years and now it seemed that I wasn't going to be able to do it. So I started looking for clothing with sun protection and found nothing. I worked very hard for 1.5 years to find the material we now use for Kastel. It had to be light, it had to be beautiful on everyone and totally protect you from the sun. I love the material, it was so unbelievably comfortable, and went on to become the foundation of the brand.
TE: From riding tops to a full fashion range, how did Kastel grow and expand to what it is today?
Charlotte: I design all the products for myself. If I need something I’m assuming others need it as well. I love colour and if it works for me I’m assuming it will work for others. We always listen to our retailers and customers and that gets fed back into our designs. Our products have evolved from invaluable customer feedback.
TE: Why the name ‘Kastel’?
Charlotte: Kastel means fortress in Danish. Kastel is a brand that protects you like a fortress from the elements; especially the sun.
TE: What do you want to do with your brand in terms of fashion and riding? Where do you see it going?
Charlotte: Kastel goes where I go. I’m continuing to strive for the top and I want the brand to do the same thing. We are introducing so many new categories in the next 12 months and I’m just so excited to see what our customers think. I just love it!. The industry is definitely ready for some disruption, and I believe that Kastel is what it's been missing.
TE: We absolutely love the new Kastel Autumn/Winter collection. Is there anything new from that collection that you are particularly excited about?
Charlotte: I have to say I love it all; I live in Kastel clothing and so does my entire family. I love it for hiking, walking, travelling; any sport and any activity I’m in it. I love every single piece. Of course, it's been great introducing our line of breeches. I’m in them for hours a day and they are wonderful and built to last.
TE: Apart from taking your brand to even greater heights, what are your goals and aspirations for the next few years outside of Kastel?
Charlotte: I still want to go to the Olympics in 2020, and I definitely want to do the world cup again. I would also love to do Pan Am games next year too. I have so many things I need to accomplish, I'm not sure I have the time in this lifetime.
TE: Finally, we get exhausted just thinking about how busy your lifestyle is. How do you maintain that perfect work/life balance?
Charlotte: This summer I was actually exhausted from so much riding, so I took 3 months off to just be with the family. We travelled all over Europe and had a lot of fun together. I work a lot, but I do like to work and to keep myself busy. I have a lot of energy and I get bored easily. I think I must like it because I keep on doing it with a smile on my face.