HatlingFlint art director paints and sells chalkboard horses on Etsy


Josh Hoffman is art director in our HatlingFlint office in St. Cloud.

He also paints and sells chalkboard horse doodle pads on his Etsy shop, Houndstooth Design.

Houndstooth Design - Chalkboard Horse

Josh started collecting model horses at age five. Fast forward 20+ years to a purchase on eBay. He explains, “I got one that was horribly scratched up and didn’t want to give it to the neighbor kid, so I sanded it down to the normal plastic and primed it. A friend mentioned I should paint it with chalkboard paint. I thought it was a dumb idea.”

Sanded model horse
But Josh tried it anyway and realized it was not a dumb idea at all. He bought a handful more horse bodies, painted them and started an Etsy shop to sell them.

“I didn’t have any sales for a couple of weeks and all of a sudden they were all sold.”

Josh quickly found more and has been building his brand since.

Why horses?

Even though he never had horses growing up, Josh admits, “I love everything about horses—the shape, the spirit, the Wild West, the medieval times. Yes, I am a 12-year-old girl.”

Ever since he can remember, Josh has wanted a real horse. These models took the place.

“After I received my first plastic horse for Christmas, I was hooked on the different colors and shapes they came in. That’s when I started collecting them and have since.”

The hunt.

The hunting and gathering process of finding these horses appeals to Josh. After finding the horses on eBay or in thrift shops, he stores all the models in bins until he’s ready to repurpose them. “I’m constantly buying more—I don’t like to see my stock drop. It keeps me busy and gives me that extra spending money.”

Currently, Josh has about 250 horses and other animals that need to be painted before the snow flies.

Houndstooth Design - Chalkboard Horse

Building his brand.

Josh understands branding, and it shows.

He has created a unique product which appeals to a very niche audience. His chalkboard horses have been used in eclectic wedding décor and adored by equestrian fans. Houndstooth Design has even been featured in magazines such as Weddings Unveiled and Equestrian.

A blank slate.

“While I’m painting horses, I can clear my mind and think about anything and everything I want.” Josh often finds himself thinking about design problems at work and coming up with solutions while he paints. He jokes, “I should probably bill clients for these hours.”

Get to know a Flintster: Q + A with Josh

What’s your dream job?
To own a vintage modern shop, with a coffee shop and little bakery inside. I have also wanted to own a dog bakery. And to be the head of visuals for GAP or Anthropologie.

Which job would you not want to have?
That list is a mile long. I don’t want to do anything that makes me uncomfortable and/or dirty. My dad and brother are plumbers. I can tell you I never once even thought about that profession. I also wouldn’t want a job that doesn’t challenge me.

What was your first job?
I worked at a pet store.

What did it teach you?
I learned how to manage customers and daily responsibilities that go with the job. I learned that I never wanted a pet snake, rodent or tarantula. It taught me that I wanted to eventually be my own boss and own my own company. I also learned how to multitask and that gave me a good work ethic. But I think I learned that from my parents.

What is one thing you’d be willing to practice for an hour a day?

What’s the best advice you ever got?
Never give up and life is short.

What sound do you love?
I love a lot of sounds, but the one that I would pick would be the sound of walking over wet leaves in the autumn.

What scent do you love?
Scents really do it for me. I cannot pick just one. Fresh cut grass, firewood, fresh air, a cow or horse barn, the smell of dirt, the forest after a rainfall, the smell of autumn, cookies, all the scents of Christmas, 3M (my mom works there and when she would get home at night, she would tuck me in and I could smell tape on her… I still try to get a whiff of her hair).

Ps. The holidays are coming up! Remember to check out Houndstooth Design on Facebook or Etsy.

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