Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Women Involved: Jude Gerace

Jude was first included on the Women on Bikes Series and inspired me to go beyond just the bike. She's a female involved in the bicycle industry, something not many women can say! So I decided to include the Women Involved series to give everyone an inside look on the women breaking barriers. Check out Jude's website: Sugar Wheel Works and Facebook: Sugar Wheel Works

What made you decide to work or be involved in the bike industry?  I’m not sure that it was that conscious.  I was a bike mechanic through some part of my college career and I loved what the industry represented:  freedom, adventure, endless possibilities and I know that my own personal values at the time lined up with that. Sometimes this is a really hard industry to be a part of--the pay sucks, my career choice is not always respected in the sense that people don't necessarily value what we do and yet despite all of this I still love it even though I bike ride far less than I did when I was just on the outside looking in.

What inspired you to work specifically with the wheels of a bike?  I really enjoy the process of wheel building.  After enough hours of perfecting the process it has become, as they say, meditative.  I feel enriched.  I also like the people I work with and the culture of our shop.

What is the best set of wheels or most fulfilling set of wheels you’ve built?  It's rarely about the wheels and mainly about the people and the adventures they're going to have.  There are countless people who have inspired us and allowed us to be part of their adventures.

How does this whole business thing work? Do people with bikes already purchased come to you and have you custom build wheels? Do bike shops ask you to build wheels for their customers?  We build for frame builders, people looking to make serious upgrades to their bikes, people who need repairs, anyone in need of wheels!

 How did you get your business up and going? What were some of the successes and struggles you've dealt with as a small business?  It’s an endless struggle, if i can be candid with you.  It’s like being a cabinet maker and competing against ikea.  We bring a great deal of skill and personal integrity to our work but I’m not always certain that the general population values what we bring.  I think frame builders struggle with the same challenges.  I’m most proud of the fact that we pay a living wage, we contribute a significant amount to our employees' health care, and we provide work/life balance.  The struggles are that I have to spend a lot of time educating, offering counsel and sometimes it results in a sale and sometimes it's tough to make ends meet.

What is your favorite part of the bicycle wheel?  I love the rear hub.  I love how unique hubs can be--their sound, how the internal mechanism works, what the axle looks like, how different companies machine or chamfer the spoke holes, how the hub body looks and how smooth and shaped it is.  I love matching the correct hub to the correct person!

What advice would you give a female wanting to take part in the bike industry? (either working at a bike shop or starting off on their own adventure?)  It's a tough industry to make a good living so adjust your expectations.  I don't know what it's like to be a man in this industry so I can really only share my perspective--be curious, open to feed back, find a mentor, be a mentor, and remember there's always something to learn--Rome wasn't built in a day!


1 comment:

  1. Jude is the most inspiring person I have met! So much passion and curiosity and intelligence! There ain't many girls in the bike business and we really need people like Jude! Thanks Josie for an interesting interview! Simona Bava(bici)

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