Saturday, September 4, 2010

Who needs 'One Life to Live?'

Did anyone else get an unsolicited email [reproduced below] from the NY breeches company Aanstadt Das (AD)? I have no idea why I got it, but it's not so much a business message as an emotional journey.

My first pair of breeches were ADs. Deerskin breeches opened up a whole new world for me -- a world of luxury, riding comfort, and credit card debt. But back in early 2000s or so, the business suffered from unreliable service/product delivery--just as a competing company was gaining a great reputation for manufacturing a similar breech.   I heard some buzz about back-stabbing business partners; it was all very melodramatic.

Sonya, Sonya, Sonya
Well, the founder of AD, Sonya, sent out an email clarification. Alas, it may not have the intended effect. Not sure what she was trying to clarify but the thing abundantly clear was that the company management (Sonya):
  1. Does not form lasting business relationships.
  2. Was unable to guide a promising business through the challenging period of rapid growth.
  3. Takes things personally. And can't let go.
 She admits she's more of a creative type than a business woman, which explains a lot of this.  Nevertheless, the letter does not instill confidence, nor does her decision to sell a pair of used breeches worn by Linda Parelli "many times" for (gulp) $3500.  At any rate I'm a loyal fan of the breeches. Sonya, Sonya, Sonya, the lower prices are fine but let your past business spars go -- put your energy into your business.  You make a great pair of breeches!

One breech to wear, one life to live...

Here's what I got via email...


Aanstadt Das, the 'Original' Deerskin Riding Breech, a company that began
over 35 years ago is offering  - DIRECT TO THE CONSUMER - Deerskin Breeches
at phenomenal prices. For those who have wondered, "What ever happened to
Aanstadt Das?" please take the time to read about the transitions we've had
over the past 10 years. And spread the word - letting others know where
they can get the Original Aanstadt Deerskin Breech at a great price. Sonya
Bergstrom, the Designer of Aanstadt Das, does not 'wholesale' to anyone,
but instead believes the savings should go to the consumer. That is why the
pricing is so fair!

Currently they are offering "BEST" specials on full seats 2FORS AS WELL AS
OTHER GREAT SPECIALS at their store on eBay. This along with many, many
other tremendous deals!
You can visit their store at this link:

First, let us be clear that Equissentials is not the same thing, and never
has been. Many individuals are confused regarding what has been told to
them about 'their' product and its origin. This should help clear up some
of that confusion.  Aanstadt designs are all Originals and 40 years ago -
there was absolutely nothing that resembled the Deerskin Pant that exists
today. Sonya created them out of necessity and inspiration along with her
development of fabrics, design, style, shape and choice of leather.
Aanstadt  sizing ( A COLOR CODE SYSTEM) is by far the most comprehensive
that exists due to the never ending study done first hand by Sonya. There
have been well over 100,000 individuals from all over the world measured by
Sonya using 13 measurements to create her sizing and patterns. As many of
you know Sonya was swamped with business in the late 90's and needed help
to meet the customer's needs. A separate facility was created (Acquisaurus)
which was never a partnership. Fortunately, Sonya realized early, within 5
months that the intentions that surfaced were very different than what was
initially presented and totally against her philosophy. Sonya sued Mr.
Creighton after
5 months due to illegal use of her name and won the lawsuit, however the
quarter million in funding that he received in order to help her, stayed
with him and was used to launch the first 'knock off' of her designs -
Equissentials. The funding he received was based on all the years of R&D
done by Sonya and the products and designs developed during the 25 years
prior. The new company was a 'look alike' and it used Sonya's work as its

There are other companies, as well, who have taken many aspects of Sonya's
work and have incorporated them within 'their own'. They are not her
originals by any means. So, it is what it is, and at Aanstadt Das, Sonya
continues - on her own - having fun doing what she loves most with dynamite
innovation and design, which has proved to be unsurpassed in both savings
and design.

Before Equissentials, Sonya and Hollie McNeil created Riding Right with the
base of the Catalogue being Aanstadt Designs. They were never partners.
Between the road travel, selling directly and the Catalogue there was just
too much business - that is why Sonya needed help and looked for the right
individual to help meet the demand. Joe's expertise and what he presented
as a sincere desire to help seemed like the right solution, it was not. The
expansion was to help the catalogue meet their demand, as well as direct
sales. In the mean time, Hollie, who felt she 'owned' Sonya and did not
like sharing, so she sued Sonya, sold her company for a lot of money, and
told the buyer she had manufactured all the products. If your Aanstadt Das
Breeches got kinda funny looking in 2000, this is why. Since 2000, there
have been all kinds of things said - the main being that Aanstadt Das was
out of business and sold everything to Joe/Equissentials. All the lies and
rumors have been simply astonishing!

Sonya has never been a partner with anyone, nor has she ever been 'out of
business'. She had to start all over, with no funding, in 2000 - go on the
road and continue doing what she loved, and still loves - designing and
making breeches.

When asked her common response is, "Let me be absolutely clear, the past 10
years have been the most difficult, challenging, and painful (emotionally,
physically, and spiritually) of my life. However, being on the other side
of all that now, I would have never given up those experiences and
relationships. I needed them in order to grow. My desire has always been to
expand. I was just expanding in the wrong direction and needed the
correction those experiences brought. So many things contributed to where I
am now, and I am so thankful for every aspect (person and situation) that
helped to mold me. I still love what I do and will continue to do what I do
best - turn a vision into something tangible that is useful and helps
others achieve their goals. The heart behind my Designs and Patents are
honest and the products that come from that heart is my gift to share, and
I am so thankful for them." In addition she comments, "I only expanded to
help meet the demand and am so sorry for all the problems and confusion it
has caused others."  That was NEVER her intent!

So after 2000, Sonya was on the road extensively and once again had too
much business and reached out again to a Company 'who was very interested
in helping her'. I.T.S. in New Jersey. That was 2005. There was never a
partnership or a selling of Aanstadt Das. Shortly after moving production
to New Jersey (a huge move), once again the 'real' intentions of I.T.S.
surfaced. They, like others before them, just wanted to pick her brain and
buy Aanstadt, which was not for sale. So, after 5 months that ended. Those
of you who knew Aanstadt Das at that time and lost touch with Sonya and/or
her products or your orders during this time, now you know the 'truth'
about what happened then. Furthermore, if you had an order that was
incomplete, please contact Sonya, as it is her intention to respond to all
affected by these transitions.

Then, she was back on her own on the road and things really sped up. In
2006, as she was coming back from a show, Sonya got a call from her husband
that he had blood clots in his heart, legs, and lungs and was being moved
to another hospital. Over the weekend his condition escalated and Sonya met
the ambulance accompanying him to the hospital. He almost died. He did
eventually make it through, but as these things go, it caused Sonya to make
major changes in how she was doing business in order to be closer to him.
At this point, (2006 to 2007) her manufacturing facility was 2 hours away
and once again she had to make another major move in order to be there for
He was in and out of the hospital, in serious condition, 3 times.
Fortunately, he is now stable, taking one day at a time, and has a good
support group caring for him. As a result, Sonya had no choice but to drop
out of site and now you know why. To top it all off, Sonya developed a
debilitating condition in her right hip and was slowly losing her ability
to walk, having a continual increase of physical pain that became mentally
hard to deal with. During this time she produced with her staff as best she
could in spite of the pain. In 2009 the condition worsened to where the
inevitable surgery (total hip replacement) happened in December.

At present here in June, 2010, quite simply, you would never know she was
the same person. The surgery brought a total transformation to her stamina,
endurance, and ability to function. It is amazing what physical pain does
to/for a person. Excited about her new life and attitude, she is back on
the road, and is expanding once again. This time she is expanding with a
great group of individuals within her company who know her well, support
her and work well together. Each person has their own gift and loves what
they do bringing success. Everyone works from his or her heart; the
atmosphere is light and exciting, and we have fun creating all Sonya's new

The hope of Aanstadt Das is that if anyone feels they got lost in the
shuffle, that they would understand with this clarification all that has
happened and the reasons for the temporary disconnection - but most of all
that they would contact Sonya and reconnect.  We at Aanstadt hope this
helps to clarify some things for you all!

Bottom line...Sonya Loves making breeches and coming up with new designs
and fabrics - that is what she does best and just had to simplify things
and learn a lot about discernment!

Please spread the word that AANSTADT DAS lives!

Let everyone know where he or she can get great Deerskin Breeches at
tremendous savings - the Originals!!!


                                           Thank you for taking the time to
read this!
We appreciate it so much if you purchase one of our breeches on ebay,
request an invoice and mention this phrase "THAT CLARIFIES THINGS" and
we'll give you $15 off your purchase.

Mid.dressage mailing list


Catalog venture reins in TV news career in Business Journal (Albany)
Aanstadt Das breeches thread on Ultimate Dressage
Aanstadt Das thread on NC Horse News


  1. Honestly, I got the email and just deleted it. Not that I was being cruel, I just don't need any breeches, much less expensive ones.

    So much more businesslike and reassuring to just inform the public of your product, the high quality and value than to air "dirty laundry." Kind of reminds me too much of politics. *sigh*

  2. Honestly, I got the email and just deleted it. Not that I was being cruel, I just don't need any breeches, much less expensive ones.

    So much more businesslike and reassuring to just inform the public of your product, the high quality and value than to air "dirty laundry." Kind of reminds me too much of politics. *sigh*

  3. Oh, Lord, TMI!

    And, as a bonus, one of my pet peeve errors: "dropped out of site".

  4. Dropped out of "site" drove me crazy too.

    Poor lady, apparently she doesn't realize that for someone who doesn't know her, the first response is, "You know, the one constant in all this drama is you, right?"

  5. lol, Allie. Well said. That's a letter that should have stayed in the drafts folder.

  6. I got the email and just deleted it.

    But reading it here on BTB, I would say the message is one that needed to be written, but NEVER SENT! Especially not to potential clients. Very big turnoff, and I am very suspicious about how my email address was obtained.

    I'll say it: I'm a Tropical Rider rider.

  7. I think this is really sad. Maybe she's on a lot of pain medication or something. This email is proof why all those books tell you to never, ever hit the "send" button without letting a message sit for a day or two. It sounds like it was written on impulse. Or maybe it went out to the wrong list of customers and was only supposed to go to an A list of people who know her personally.

    I'm sure she, like everyone else, is having a huge surge of adrenalin (or panic) as WEG approaches.

    I was a fan of her second non-partnership--the black stretchy riding tights with the stickies on the seat--but I didn't get the email. You must be on some special list, Stacey.

    Maybe she can sell the movie rights.

  8. Her breeches show that she's talented and creative. But you can't stop people from reverse engineering your stuff unless it's patentable. I am doubtful of her business skills but bet she'd be a fun to have lunch with.

  9. Sad. Such a self-destructive thing to do. And why does the email have to mention "Sonja" so many times? Seems like she's putting her name, not the brand name, front and center. Smacks of narcissism and unprofessionalism in the extreme. Too bad someone couldn't take over the business and leave her to designing the breeches in the backroom.


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