We had the good fortune of connecting with Chanel Rhodes-Garces and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Chanel, maybe we can start at the very start – the idea – how did you come up with the idea for your business?
I have been adding my own hair extensions since I was fresh out of high school. I watched different YouTube tutorials on how to add different types of extensions to my hair without costing me an arm and a leg. I wanted to stay trendy without spending a lot of money on my hair. I started to add my own creative touch to a lot of my own hairstyles. My mother, Valerie Griffin has always supported and encouraged me to live my life with passion. In 2007 I decided to pursue and satisfy one of my lifelong passions, riding horses. When I was a young child I doubted if the equestrian lifestyle was for someone like me, due to the lack of representation(I am so thankful for my mother’s support and positive reinforcement). I started off a as a working student for a trainer in Long Beach( Cliff Salter 1935-2021) and stayed with him for 7 years. A friend of mine, Jesus Perez (who has also passed away) had an adorable paint horse that he wanted me to have and Cliff co-signed on this little cutie as well. Lady is my 3rd horse and definitely a worth her weight in gold. Although she has a fiery heart she has a special patience while we walk side by side and take pictures and film together. She is definitely a Prima Donna that loves the camera and lots of attention. She has beautiful markings and is loved everywhere she goes. I currently work as a working student for a hunter/jumper trainer, Jasmine Wheatley who has helped me enter the English Riding world and continues to assist me with western lessons as well.

In 2019 during Black History Month, I noticed a lot of African Americans doing special creative projects with their horses to celebrate the month. I wanted to add my own special creative touch to my horse. I began to explore what I can do and glanced at Lady’s sad limp mane. I had an idea to make her a one piece wig that would cover and match her mane. I made the wig and scheduled a shoot with my now husband Andrew Garces(who was also contacted by you all for a Shoutout, our home is a walking sideshow). The day of the filming, my wig prototype failed and I was immediately discouraged. Thankfully Andrew was there to encourage me to use the extra loose hair to do a crotchet installation. After the video was complete we held a small photoshoot and named this project, Afrocentric Pony. After the video was released I was contacted by the Young Black Equestrians(Abriana Johnson and Caitlin Gooch) and encouraged to create a horse wig business. Afterwards I was contacted by several more media platforms. Afrocentric Pony was featured on NBC’s Access Daily and a pop-up exhibit at The Gene Autry Museum. From there I developed my wigs and almost 60 prototypes later, Mane Tresses launched on January 25th 2021.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others,

There are already hair extensions for horses out there. They are made with natural horse hair, require braiding, and tend to be more expensive. My products are custom made to fit the horse it is for and is versatile at the same time. The method of installation for my products is new, does not require braiding, and is easy to install. My products are fully synthetic, flexible, and come in several different colors. My color options are endless. I also have pieces that glow in the dark and change color in the sun(made with RastAfri Braiding Hair, I am one of their brand ambassadors)

what you are most proud of or excited about.

My most proud moment to date is when Mane Tresses, Lady, and I were used in a Facebook Commercial that premiered during the 2021 Grammys. It was the first time my business, horse, and I were all used together in a paid production. It wasn’t the last either 😁

How did you get to where you are today professionally.

I got here by never giving up. There were times I was ready to throw in the towel and move on. I may have slowed down but I never gave up. 60 prototypes and a lot of crying later I was able to launch. Covid lockdown helped provide the downtime that I needed to focus on Mane Tresses.

Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges?

It was not easy creating my products and believing that they will be acceptable in such a traditional sport. I was heckled and teased online and in personal, I never allowed those outside voices to discourage me from creating my business and pursuing my goals. Another really discouraging moment is when my products had the opportunity to be featured in a large horse show. Due to Covid that portion of the show was canceled. This would have been a great opportunity for business and brand exposure and came with a handsome paycheck. Afterwards, I worked harder to focus on any future opportunities that would come my way. NEVER GIVE UP!

What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way.

Stay focused, do not let others discourage you, work hard, get enough sleep for brain power, NEVER GIVE UP, and live with passion.

What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?

I am a first generation English and Western Equestrian and third generation entrepreneur. Mane Tresses is an award winning business with products that have been sold internationally. Mane Tresses and Cowgirl Chanel have been featured on NBC’s Access Daily, ABC’s To Tell The Truth, Los Angelenos Magazine/LA Times website, Chrome Magazine, produced social media shoots, Bust Magazine, The Autry Museum, 60 Second Docs, several podcasts and online articles. Mane Tresses is perfect for professional produced photoshoots, movies, commercials, etc.

I love to create! I have so many ideas that could benefit a lot of these large media platforms. I dont just make horse wigs, I have ideas for cartoons, movies, and theme parks. My lifelong dream is to work with Disney. Ive loved Disney since I was a young child and want to create with them. Heck, I can even do a good Mickey Mouse impersonation. I have done a few special projects with my horse based on Disney characters.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If I had a best friend visit I would definitely take them for a beautiful scenic trail ride in Orange Park Acres and Chino Hills. We of course would have to go to Disneyland for a few days. I would take them to visit my former work location( Hearthstone Lounge at the Grand Californian Hotel) where we could dine and have some amazing cocktails. I would also take them to Knotts Berry Farm, Six Flags, and Universal Studios. As you can see, I like theme parks. If there is any time left then I would definitely love to do some dining in shopping at Shoreline Village/The Pike in Long Beach. My favorite restaurant with a view is Gladstone. We would also have to hit up a boat tour and The Aquarium(I also worked there).

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
MOM!!! Valerie Griffin- She was the one to support and encourage me to live my life with passion. She is a handy, hard-working, beautiful, intelligent, and a true leader. She encouraged me to be creative in all areas of my life. I LOVE HER ❤️

Husband Andrew Garces- If he was not there on the day of my failed prototype, there may not be a Mane Tresses. He has a true entrepreneurial spirit that I admire and has rubbed off on me.

Horse Trainer Jasmine Wheatley- In the traditional equestrian world she not only gave me the lessons I needed to be a successful rider, she helped me promote my business by being the first one to use Mane Tresses in the show rig.

Former Horse Trainer Cliff Salter(passed away)- He gave me my start in horses and was the first black cowboy that I have ever met.

Jesus Perez(passed away) and the Perez Family- Jesus knew that Lady was special and lost money on our deal to purchase Lady because he wanted me to have her. I am FOREVER grateful. His sweet family carries on his memory of kindness.

Young Black Equestrians The Podcast- They encouraged the idea of Mane Tresses. I was one of their early podcast episodes. I am grateful for those ladies!

Website: https://www.manetresses.com/

Instagram: @Cowgirl_Chanel @manetressescc

Facebook: Mane Tresses

Other: TikTok- CowgirlChanelMT

Image Credits
Andrew Garces for 7 images Jasmine Wheatley for Pink/Red images

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