The Story of Rebecca Ray Designs
Posted: March 8, 2019
Rebecca Yuhasz Smith sat on her first pony when she was just a few weeks old, becoming a lifelong equestrian, and eventually creating a home where she and her husband now raise their own Percherons.
Rebecca also inherited a legacy in the competitive dog world, having raised her entire life top English Setter Show dogs that are shown all over the world, including at the Westminster Dog Show. These unique experiences were the inspiration behind Rebecca Ray Designs.
Living in California in 2003, Rebecca began creating premium handbags, drawing inspiration from the sporting life that she had experienced. She began primarily by offering hand made bags and products at local horse and dog shows, building a small faithful fan base who appreciated her high quality materials and beautifully distinct designs. Always incorporating a stylish nod to equestrian sport, she creates authentic products that became known for their exquisite craftsmanship. The name Rebecca Ray came from Rebecca’s maiden initials (RAY) and her father’s first name, Ray.
“Our roots are in the sporting life, and all of our products have something distinct that pay homage to that. It is part of what makes our designs different, and it has always been important to us to stay true to that part of our personality.”
It was in 2003, when her family moved back to Chagrin Valley, Ohio that Rebecca began partnering with Amish craftsmen and women to produce her products on a bigger scale.At first, it was challenging for Rebecca to find partners in the Amish community. She knew of the reputation of Amish master harness makers and seamstresses and was certain they could produce her designs to the supreme quality she wanted. It was a chance encounter with an Amish contractor working on her home that started her lasting partnership. Rebecca asked him if he knew anyone that sewed, to which he replied, "My wife. She sews all of our clothes." Rebecca began collaborating with his wife, Mary Ann, to produce what would go on to become some of her most iconic products. Working with the Amish community to produce all of her goods has allowed Rebecca to create things that are truly one of a kind, and of supreme quality. They went from hand made to bench made- crafted on a workman or cobbler’s bench
From there, Rebecca continued to grow the business by merchandising at equestrian and dogs shows around the country and launching a robust e-commerce site. One of her most recent and exciting progressions has been collaborating with various venues to create custom artwork products, such as the annual Landover Kentucky Three Day Event, Keeneland Race Track, Saratoga, and more. Her products have been honored not once, but twice by the Oprah Magazine “best of American Made Products List.
From the beginning of her operation, working out of a basement workshop, to building a brand recognized in equestrian circles around the world, Rebecca’s sharp eye for design coupled with continuous hard work continues to expand Rebecca Ray Designs reach. The next phase of the journey is to build the brand beyond the niche of the equestrian community. “There is something about the world of equestrian sport and sporting life that is classic, and it resonates with many people, not just those that actually ride or work with horses. The timeless beauty of this style invokes something in people they find both timeless and stunning, wrapped in up to the minute trending styles. We have plans to continue expanding Rebecca Ray Designs to appeal to these wider audiences.”
Rebecca continues to design new products that stay true to her company’s tagline: The Style of the Sporting Life.