Herd Member | Abriana J.

Hey HoZ! My name is Abriana and I am the Chief Unicorn at Black Unicorn Creative, LLC. BUC is a creative design hub I launched to assist horse business ownership put their best hoof forward when establishing an online presence. I co-host Young Black Equestrians the podcast and I have authored 2, soon to be 3, children’s books in the Cowgirl Camryn book series. 

I have 3 horses I get to love on daily. Coco, a twenty something odd Tennessee Walking Horse, was my childhood horse and has taken me on miles and miles of trails over the past decade. He has heaves now so he gets to live out his life as a pasture puff and babysitter-en-resident. Maestro is my current mount and he is an 8yo Tennessee Walking Horse. I purchased him from NC State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine as a sophomore in college at 6 months old (purchasing a weanling in college - 3/10 - would not recommend LOL). As crazy as it sounds, I did it, and I loved every minute of it. Having him introduced me to so many aspects of the horse industry allowing me to network early in my career. Lastly, 2 years ago I purchased a miniature horse on a Craiglist whim… because he looked like the spitting image of Maestro. *Insert Encore, the miniature horse* Encore has been an absolute blast to raise. He is a therapy horse, bringing joy and smiles to the faces of all he meets, so much so that he has his own vehicle called the mini mobile (because who is hauling a trailer for a mini? Not I). 

I could talk about my crew all day long, but what I wanted to really address in this post is truly the essence of the Herd of Zebras brand, with a twist. I love this brand because it is all about owning your individuality, being the person you were meant to be. As a pre-veterinary student, you are always told you have to be a certain way to get approval and have to meet certain requirements to be successful. This is true to a degree because how else would you get into vet school? As an undergrad, I hated the competition and the stuffy environment of my major. Opportunities were hidden, criticism was high, compassion was intermittent. 

Because of this, I worked my ass off to create opportunities for myself AND other students. I developed public health programs, events, and guides to help students like me navigate this competitive space. I connected with industry professionals so early and so aggressively that when I entered the room they said hey to me first. This was the first opportunity I had to be a unicorn in a field of workhorses.

You’re probably wondering how I went from pre-vet life to creative entrepreneurship? After graduating, I entered the veterinary community as a technician, then as part of the management team for a total of 6 years. I completed a Master’s degree during that time and decided I needed a mindset shift. I looked around at my job and realized I didn’t see anyone I wanted to BE. There was no one I worked with who’s life I aspired to have. About a year after this revelation, I quit. 

I went through a series of emotions from self-doubt, depression, creative block, and reluctance. “Working in a hospital would be so much easier.” “Who am I kidding to work for myself?” “Who is even going to hire me?” “HOW WILL I TAKE CARE OF MY HORSES”

 It took a complete mindset shift to make the decision to quit my 9-5, but the work wasn’t over. I had to explore deep down within myself and remember the reason why I took the leap, the reason why I wanted to help horse business owners, and the reason why they needed my expertise. I had to remember my role as the unicorn in the field of workhorses, creating opportunities, creating a support system, and creating a brand in an industry I am so very passionate about. 

The mindset work isn’t over. It doesn’t end once you make a decision. This road to entrepreneurship is kin to a trail ride. You never know what hurdles may come up on the trail, but you go over it or go around it and keep moving. Be the one that stands out in your field, be the one that creates opportunities for others, be the one that shows compassion to those who need it most. Be a unicorn.

For more of my journey, follow me on Instagram: @itstheajway or check out Young Black Equestrians Podcast: @youngblackequestrians