Maryland’s equestrian history will soon be a little bit richer with Maryland 5 Star, and the chance to partner with a local business for the occasion could not be ignored.
Terry Hasseltine, president of the Sport and Entertainment Corporation of Maryland and Maryland Sports—a commission that brings in national and international sporting events—reached out to Route One Apparel owner Ali von Paris to organize a partnership between the Maryland-pride e-commerce retailer and Maryland 5 Star.
“People in Maryland have come to know her and her brand at Route One as the principal Maryland apparel company,” he says.
That made her a natural fit to design official merchandise for the inaugural event, one of only two 5 Star -designated Eventing competitions in the country—and one of only seven worldwide.
Originally used as a cavalry test, Eventing is essentially a triathlon that includes, Dressage, Cross Country and Show Jumping. The “5 Star” designation represents the pinnacle of the sport and four of its top eight world ranking athletes will be in the competition, taking place at Fair Hill International from Oct. 14-17.
“It is also one of the few sports where men and women compete alongside one another as equals, even at the Olympic-level,” states the Maryland 5 Star website.
Hassletine wanted to highlight a local business for the occasion.
He remembered how von Paris’ brand soared during the pandemic after Gov. Larry Hogan and Baltimore Ravens Coach John Harbaugh were seen wearing Route One’s masks during live events.
Baltimore Style interviewed Ali von Paris last January about how she started her company from her dorm room at University of Maryland College Park in 2010 and was able to overcome the hardships many companies faced in 2020 and grow exponentially after her team’s mask designs took off.
Since then, Route One has expanded through licensing agreements with a number of iconic Maryland schools and with Hershey and was named one of Greater Baltimore’s 50 fastest growing private companies for 2021 in the Baltimore Business Journal.
Von Paris says she is still pursuing 2020 plans to expand along the East Coast and her team is growing.
On being selected to do the designs for Maryland 5 Star, she said she was taken aback and humbled that organizers of events at this level are choosing Route One over other companies.
“The ‘5 Star’ name and the caliber of that event is a global initiative,” von Paris says. “I hope I never ever lose the humility and the gratitude for working with these iconic experiences.”
She initially connected with Hasseltine last year to discuss the Maryland 5 Star project.
That was five years after Fair Hill International had approached him about putting on a 4 Star event at its historic venue. When all 4 Star events were reclassified to 5 Star by the International Federation for Equestrian Sports, effective 2019, Fair Hill was approved to offer that designation.
Since 1989, the Maryland equestrian venue has been used for Eventing and hosted a number of prestigious championships, producing Olympic athletes including David O’Conner, Phillip Dutton, Karen O’Conner and Bruce Davidson.
Hasseltine says the Maryland 5 Star will be a significant event for Fair Hill and the state.
“You’re talkin’ about international broadcasts that will go overseas. People from Europe, as well as Asia, down in South America and the like will get a chance to see how special Maryland is and how special Fair Hill is,” he says.
Route One’s merch includes masks, T-shirts and sweatshirts and will be for sale online through both its own website and Maryland 5 Star’s. Von Paris partnered with local Elkton home décor store BROOKBEND to carry those designs and a handful of other Route One merch on site.
Von Paris is planning to support other local businesses within a collaborative space expected to open next spring or summer just north of the Maryland State Fairgrounds. It would be the first physical location for Route One.