“Not only will this be the biggest project you've taken in school, but this will be the biggest project you've taken on."
That was a coincidental class comment, which just happens to describe Sara McClaskey's journey.
For her supervised agricultural experience, or SAE project, the Fairfield-Union high school senior started her own business.
Her teacher, Keller Moore, remembers Sara had the “master plan all worked out.” "One of the things I tell my kids, I can't teach is work ethic. They either have it or they don't, and I can enforce it, but it has to come from within."
And with Sara, he says it does.
The aspiring Future Farmer of America channeled her inner entrepreneur.
Sara, who loves her horses, had a friend who had horse supplies or "tack" to sell.
It was an opportunity, Sara says, that developed from her parents having an empty house to using that house as a store.
Sara’s dad, Mark McClaskey, says he was scared for his daughter. “What was she getting into? That was my biggest fear.”
Fears aside, McClaskey backed his daughter's plans, drove her where she needed to go and when she had questions, told her to do her homework - which she did.
Sara says she took a loan out through the rural youth development program for $4,000 as an initial investment to create The Hoof and Hound.
Sara found suppliers and through trial and error learned what her customers wanted. Her inventory is diverse, but her youth might have a little something to do with collars that sparkle, and some special saddles - like pink and zebra print ones.
But Sara says her success and turning a profit didn’t come without two words: “hard work.”
The Hoof and Hound is open every weekend and weekdays by appointment.
Friend and employee, Kat Shauger, applauds Sara’s efforts. “She got it open, stuck with it, through winters when nobody came in.” And her dad Mark says he feels “a lot of pride” on how his daughter has grown her business.
In the end, Sara hopes her story is proof to other kids that “you can do anything you want to if you work hard, but it does take a lot of hard work.”