Tomorrow we are doing our photo shoot for our sister brand, Designs by Tribal. And it got me thinking about how long I have worked to get here. And where my journey started.
It was 4 years ago when I was cycling across Africa that I decided I wanted to have an impact. To have a job that had purpose. And I wanted it to be in the cycling industry. What led me to this thought?
Let’s take a few more steps backwards. I decided to cycle across Africa before I actually took up cycling. I was “googling” (as you do when you hate your job), looking for an adventure. And I came across Tour d Afrique. A 12,000km ride covering the entire length of Africa. Cairo to Cape Town. And at that moment I thought yes! That’s what I want to do. Rang my mum and told her that I was going to ride across Africa. She mentioned that this would be a little hard considering that I didn’t even own a bike. Small detail I said.
It took another 4 years till I actually got there. And I when I turned up for the start in Cairo, I was a very unfit cyclist. I had mostly ridden from St Kilda to Mordiolloc and back. A reasonably flat 50 km. Twice I did 80kms. And once I managed 140kms. So, all in all, I was ready for my 12,00km journey, right?
As you can image when I was getting ready to leave for my trip, I had many people tell me that I wouldn't make it. That I had no chance of coming close.
Well, I did it! In 2013 I cycled from Cairo to Cape Town. It brought new meaning to the word hard and gifted me with new beautiful experiences and strength I never knew I had. Rode through the desert, climbed many mountains, rode through amazing landscapes, experienced riding in 51 degrees Celsius, through a sandstorm, torrential rain, a fly plague, cried, laughed, rode naked through the desert and sat around many fires sharing stories with amazing people from around the world.
This experience made me realise that if I listened to the doubters in my world, or my own self doubt, I would have missed out on so many amazing experiences. I decided then that I wanted to start a business that would inspire other women to not listen to those around them or their own fears. So that they could too experience their world to its fullest and hopefully I could inspire some of them to pursue their dreams, no matter how big or scary.
And so from this trip, Tribal Cycling was born.
I always wanted to run rides where women could connect with other women who share their love for cycling and the outdoors. I wanted to support women with knowledge and skills. And hopefully empower them the way I had been empowered. But I had also wanted to design a line of cycling apparel that would make women feel fierce and confident for whatever adventure they were going on.
Since then I have worked in cycling apparel, worked in athletic apparel, bought kit and samples from more brands than I can list. I have gone crazy trying learning weights and the makeup of different fabrics.And I have collected a million fabric colour swatches! I did an online graphic design course, learnt how to build a website with an eCommerce platform. I have run surveys on what women want from their garments, held market research groups at my house. And annoyed my cycling friends with many questions.
The process has been a lot harder than expected. I have come very close to a final product 3 times. I have gone through three manufacturers. I have spent more money than I ever though this process would require. Have had many midnight and early morning Skype calls dealing with people around the world. Was meant to launch last October. And I could have. But I just wasn't happy with some of the details of some of the garments. So back to the drawing board. Two months ago there was another error. Small. But it wasn’t right. It was at this point where I questioned throwing it in. It had been two years dealing with the manufacturing and design process. But I went back one last time.
Well, tomorrow is the day I have been dreaming of for 4 years. Tomorrow we have our photo shoot. I get to see the product in action. All the hours, all the details, all the conversations, tears and pennies. Tomorrow is the day!
Follow us on Instagram for behind the scenes and first peeks of our new range. @designsbytribal
I can't wait to share this project with you!
Some moments from my trip.
Riding through the Sahara Desert.
Children in Malawi.
Markets in Ethiopia.
Amazing climb at sunset in Ethiopia.
Top of the world in Tanzania.