Today’s FACE is India Lynn Watson, a lovely women with such a zest for life! Her day job as marketing director of Atlanta Steeplechase perfectly blends her love for horses and giving back to our wonderful city! Welcome, India!
Where did you grow up and what brought you to Atlanta?
I grew up in Vero Beach, Florida. I moved here with one of my closest friends after college. We drove a Ryder truck up and just figured it out! My extended family is from here so it was a natural fit for me. I love it, but I am a Florida girl at heart.
Tell us a little about Steeplechase.
The Atlanta Steeplechase is so much more than just a horse race. It’s a day that people can disconnect from the stress of the “real world” and socialize with friends and family and celebrate being Southern! I love that it’s a 48 year old tradition and that the families who started it on one of their farms are still an integral part of the event.
What charities is Steeplechase supporting this year?
Our charities are the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine and Zac Brown’s Camp Southern Ground. Both are close to my heart. I am on the Steering Committee Board for the UGA CVM and have also had my horses under their care for many years. The passion that Zac has for children with special needs of all kinds is so inspiring. More people should get involved to help both causes. I make it a part of my mission to share information about these charities through our marketing campaign.
What do you love most about working as the marketing director of Steeplechase?
The combination of my passion for horses and my love for the marketing profession is a dream come true! I really believe I have the best job in Atlanta!
What are some of the unexpected challenges you face while planning an event for that hosts over 25,000 people?
The weather! Our executive director, Jean Bird, is a seasoned pro at the logistics and operations of the event, so it runs very smoothly. Nothing phases us at this point in our careers and we have successfully run the event rain or shine, but people seem to think we might have control of the weather on event day. We don’t! <smile>
You used to work in corporate marketing before transitioning into non-profit work. What is the greatest challenge you faced switching between the two worlds?
Having “people” and a budget! We really want every extra penny to be available for our charities, so it’s a do-it-yourself workplace and all of my marketing efforts are done in trade. I am very grateful to my media partners who truly do an amazing job for us!
If you weren’t the marketing director for Steeplechase, what would you dream of doing?
I would love to have a rehab operation for horses post-surgery or illness. I started one a couple of years ago on the farm I lived on and absolutely loved it; it’s very time consuming but unbelievably rewarding. My happy place is with horses, always has been, always will be.
For those who are headed to Steeplechase this year what are three essential items to bring along in your purse?
Lipstick (of course), those little fold up flats (why would anyone wear heels to an outdoor event on a farm?) and a snack (I’m always hungry).
You have been riding horses since you were a little girl. What life lessons have you learned from riding and caring for horses?
Growing up with horses taught me the value of commitment and the reward from hard work. Horses are 80% work and 20% fun, but the 20% is so fabulous it makes up for the work! Competing my entire life in many equestrian disciplines has taught me the importance of being prepared. People have no idea that we might train for a minimum of 3 months for 7 minutes in the show ring at one show. This work ethic has translated into my career- my time presenting to a sponsor is like my seven minutes in the show ring.
What is the greatest piece of advice that you have been given?
My spunky grandmother always gave the best advice, two of my favorites: “Life is not a dress rehearsal,” and “Do what you love and the money will come.”
Besides Steeplechase, what are you most looking forward to in the spring 2013?
I love any event where I am not in charge. I love my friend’s Kentucky Derby party–even though I think I’m the only one who watches the race. Post Steeplechase is a little depressing… I actually love the excitement and the build up to the event!
What is your favorite restaurant in Atlanta?
Haven – dinner and drinks at the bar.
What are you reading right now?
“I Declare” by Joel Osteen
What is your favorite way to spend a Saturday night?
Going anywhere with my handsome boyfriend Ed or entertaining my 12 year old daughter Maggie and her hilarious friends.
Name three things you can’t live without (besides God, Family and Friends):
- My horse Justin
- Diet Coke
- My Rodan and Fields skin care regimen
Thanks so much, India!
For more information and tickets to Steeplechase: www.atlantasteeplechase.org
And, thank you to Amy Lesesne for these beautiful photos of India!