We had the good fortune of connecting with Leah Lane and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Leah, how do you think about risk?
I love risk, but I’m a gambler in many areas of my life, maybe it takes delusional optimism to sometimes take some big jumps. My big premise is having balance with time and money for every idea or dollar spent.

I’m in constant awe of individuals historically who have built big things while maintaining cadence of personal/professional measure. Notably the people that stand out have been vulnerable to not only sharing a unique idea and then hours of work and monetary sacrifice to build it.

In my life/career risk has allowed me to experience working for the world’s largest corporations when I worked in my previous field of Pharmaceuticals and livestock products sales. If I stayed at the first one I worked for out of college, I would have never left my comfort zone. I chose hard work and thoughtful approaches to each role I had. When the opportunity presented itself with a larger company or different title, I enjoyed the shift. I’d be bored to death doing the same thing each day. But my balance here is then I was not risking a family balance with these changes. Those always come first, and nothing is more important to me than family and the people/animals we are responsible for.

There is always the chance of a merger or acquisition when one works for another company, and job insecurity is possible in any field. No one could have expected Covid to change all of our lives, and every family’s professional agendas have been affected.

With these changes I am thankful for meeting so many people and selling so many different products which allowed my naturally curious brain to always think “why/how?” Traveling also stimulates a newness for me in thinking. I got lucky and was raised in the country during the early 80’s, so activities consisted of creative outlets and self starting. This definitely shaped love of risk “well let’s try it and see what happens.” Half the time I would strike out and the other creations nailed it. Still same to this day

What should our readers know about your business?
In 2010 I had a really bad year my dad passed away unexpectedly while I was also caring for my husband was dying from Melanoma. I found myself for the first time alone, (I had just moved to San Diego the year prior.)

I’ve always had horses, but more recently my sales job and then family had my priorities away from riding.
The horses were my only escape to not “be alone.” I threw myself into riding for fun and competition, and be with my friends at the barn in a big way.

I started riding at the age of 4, competing and riding for fun, but now I joined several ladies groups in California making new lifelong friends and spending hours in the saddle.

My anxiety was still off the charts and when riding alone on young horses, I still felt alone and anxiety is not a good thing to convey to young horses. My phone was constantly in my hands… I was able to call/text for my whereabouts & safety, but music was always my go to, to calm me down and just breathe.

One evening on a ride, I really needed both myself and my horse to calm down, so I thoughtlessly wired my computers’ small desktop speakers to my saddle for some white noise. I figured the horse wouldn’t be as apt to spook from other noises if I was playing the new Kesha song during my ride.

It was back when Blackberry phones were the thing, and I had some songs downloaded. I was totally happy for the first time again, riding to the beat and feeling the rhythm of the horses gaits with the music.

Bluetooth had just become a thing, and that night I knew I had to create a small smartphone savvy Bluetooth speaker that was safe and effective for horseback riding. I wanted to share what I felt with other riders, and encourage anyone who was as low as I felt, to feel amazing.

After sharing my vision for my “saddle speaker”, I was influenced by some friends who had manufactured their own products. They encouraged me to run with it, and some basic steps to start designing and prototyping. However, the problem lied in that I wanted it perfect for all types of riding, saddles, and knowing my history working with the world’s biggest horse products companies, I knew how demanding and particular riders can be for accessories. It had to be safe and effective. It was the goal to make all riders feel like I felt the moment I could ride to music and have all my phone’s hands free options available with minimal controls, and especially keeping my eyes, hands and ears focused on my ride, at the same time being courteous to other riders.

The list of handsfree options in technology was growing so my idea quickly became bigger than I expected while I started sketching, learning and designing in a field of electronics I knew nothing about.

I failed so many times. Learning about circuit boards, plastics, silicones, pantones, 3-d printing all the options to securely mount a small unit anywhere on a saddle where I needed it. I must have gone through 13 designs I received back from manufacturers who all tried to take me for a “ride.” I tore apart really great sports speakers that didn’t work for riding, to learn the in’s and outs of what makes great sound and an appropriate experience for riders who didn’t want music and may just want to send an emergency text, or set a timer while on a trail ride.

I travelled the world to find reliable and trustworthy manufacturers, and then finally scored a brilliant “mom & pop” electronics supplier who worked and refined my ODM design and packaging. It took 3 years and all my 401k. I quit my sales job and focused on this finally receiving my first batch of I Rock N Rides® that I launched on Kickstarter, only to find out I still had to make revisions.

At my first consumer industry trade show I sold out in the first 30 minutes. My mom was (and is) my biggest fan, knowing literally nothing about selling or how to use a payment processor on my iPad.

I was in tears of emotion literally every three days, as the nature of the internet brought trolls who wanted to ban technology, thinking I was a big company. But it also brought me to tears with the chills of hearing about disabled riders who this gave the confidence to with music to enjoy and relax on their ride. Or the single trail rider who it made feel safe, while they didn’t have to fumble around trying to find their phone to send a text.

Ten years after my initial idea, the I Rock N Ride is now being used for horseback riding, golf, bicycling and so much more all over the world. It’s still emotional but my biggest take away is that the internet is your oyster to learn about what we don’t know, and to never take no for an answer. And my late husband helping along the way in spirit don’t let the end of your life happen without attempting what moves you. I will never forget his battle with terminal cancer and how he wouldn’t give up…. he “just wanted to go riding one last time.”

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Stimulating spots in San Diego are everywhere! The water is always my go to, anywhere along the coast from Oceanside to Imperial Beach. Riding horses or day camping on Fiesta Island is a really fun spot. Hiking or horseback riding the numerous hikes is great also, Iron Mountain is a killer to hike, but the feeling after a climb is superb. The list is endless of free self tours, walking the gaslamp, or downtown in any of the small spots near Hillcrest brings new thoughts and ideas. I love giving my friends links to online free activities, and places to explore. Of course horses are my thing, so I often refer them to many of the places to rent horses and take a ride inland or south on the beach. Poway Trail Company is a great spot for rides. After you can have lunch at Mainstream Bar & Grill in Poway, then head west to George’s at the Cove in La Jolla, followed up by viewing some amazing jewelry at David & Son’s Jewlers in La Jolla. Don’t forget to check out the concerts at Belly Up, and book your opening Day races tickets at Del Mar. Horseshows are often at Horse Park by Mary’s Tack shop in Del Mar. There are loads of shops in the craziest places one can find at Yelp or a quick google search, and everything is within a days drive.
San Diego is literally the best spot on earth for a variety of things to do.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My Mom & Dad definitely get the shoutout to how I think about business ideas today. There are so many people that have entered my life and been instrumental in shaping how and why my ideas move through me. My parents from the start were insanely talented at creating something out of nothing by necessity. Food, carpentry, farming, electrical, clothes and activities were literally built from scratch or at least tried by my family. I am forever grateful that I grew up in the country and mostly outside to facilitate this type of hands on learning. Having these brilliant role models to watch, think and build definitely shaped how I think of anything. After my childhood, my attending college was important to them and was a logical continuation of forming my thought process during the strange, early years of the internet.

I think my mom put it best a few years ago on the topic of perseverance and hard work. I was always expected to pull my weight while growing up, and nothing was given easy to my brother or I. We worked from a young age, at home or in outside businesses, but our parents showed us the basic tools to get started, like scanning the newspapers Fictitious Business Licenses for potential employers, before the internet was a thing to even do a search on. Working and earning, cause and effect is a tremendous teacher. When my mom told me one day in my 30’s “Sometimes I guess opportunity doesn’t knock, you just have to kick down the door” stuck in my head. I still think about how she told me that one day when I was in tears mid-way through one of my product launches.

Website: www.HorseSpeaker.com

Instagram: @iRockNRide

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/leahlane/

Twitter: @LeeLeeLane1

Facebook: @iRockNRide

Other: Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/irocknride

Image Credits
Heather Gallaher Photography.

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutSocal is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.