Women in Bike Shops Series: Grace Pooley

Here's a shot from BicycleSPACE's
photographer for a Light n Motion promo shoot we did,
that's my Surly
I'm an environmental chemistry student that also loves bicycles! 
I am a saleswoman and I also write for the blog about products & personal experiences (Click to View Blog!)

You work at BicycleSPACE- tell us about the shop and what you do-
Our shop is one of America's best 100 bicycle shops and we've won Best Bike shop in DC several years in a row now. My favorite part about our shop is how community oriented it is, we hold weekend rides every weekend and sponsor fun events around the DC area for everyone to participate in. We also hold free mechanic classes so our customers can learn how to work on their own bicycles.

Are there other women employed at the shop you work at?
Yes! We have two phenomenal women mechanics and I think (including myself) four saleswomen. Our comm. director is also a lady!

Why do you feel women are hesitant to get involved with the cycling industry?
It's been male-dominated for so long... When I first started at my first shop in College Park, I was the only woman and it was definitely an intimidating experience/environment until I began to learn the routes and actually have a concrete knowledge of the industry. At my first shop, I worked both sales and minimal-mechanics.

What inspired you to get involved with the cycling industry?
Simply put? My love for cycling. I adore riding bikes and I used my bike as a commuter so at 17 yo I wanted to get a summer job, so I applied to my local bike shop. And now it's history.

What do you feel could change for more women to seek employment in the cycling industry?
I think having more women already working in the industry will allow more women to join the industry. Haha... But really, having a more welcoming and nurturing environment would be helpful. 

What are some challenges you've faced with working in sales?
Haven't had many in recent times, but during my first gig at a bicycle shop I did face some sexism from customers who wanted to speak to a man instead of me... it was about something as simple as a flat fix too.

At the previous shop you worked at, you did basic maintenance- tell us about what you did-
Basic maintenance mainly included brake pad installation/adjustments, cable/housing installation/routing, and flat fixes. But I did learn the basics of a tune up for a little while, although I wasn't professionally required for that knowledge.

What are some basics in terms of maintenance or basic upkeep that you feel would be good for women to know how to do themselves? (ex. learn to read tire pressure, etc.)
Reading tire pressure is the most basic thing any cyclist should do, man or woman.
Flat fixes. Everyone should learn that - BicycleSPACE even has a free class for it!
Here's the Summer 2014 BicycleSPACE employee photo!
Why are women so vital to the cycling industry?
Obviously because we make up half the world population!

How can bike shops make women feel more welcome (as customers or employees)?
Just don't be condescending or judgmental. A good shop is a shop that treats all of its customers and employees as valuable members of the cycling community.

Do you feel your presence at the shop is a positive draw for other women?
I believe so, yes. I've had many women customers gravitate towards me (or another woman employee) before the men as a safe place to talk bicycles. We also provide a reliable, relate-able source of cycling knowledge for cycling specific topics. 

What are some of the things you’ve learned since working at the shop?
Everything, except how to ride a bike. That involves good communication skills, how to sell a bicycle, 

Tell us about your personal bike(s)!
I have a beautiful steel, sparkly red Burley road bike named Kenz, she was my first bike-shop bike and I love her tremendously! My daily commuter is the dark blue Surly Cross Check, disguised as an 8-speed with full fenders and front/rear racks and a lovely red Brooks saddle. I also share a Santana Rio tandem with my boyfriend (who also works at a local bike shop!) and that's an awesome ride too. 

What clothing/bike accessories do you love? What would you recommend to your friends?
I always recommend anything by Chrome - I own their shoes, bags, jackets, hoodies etc... I'm basically sponsored by them. Also, Brooks saddles are well worth the cash. 

What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling?
The truth that it's been male dominated for so long now... 

Here's a shot of me from November at the Philly Bike Expo.
representing Santana Tandems.
What do you feel could happen to make changes and/or encourage more women to ride?
Just having a larger women presence, I believe. 

What inspires you to encourage women to ride?
Seeing how happy it makes me and knowing that other women feel the same!

Tell us a random fact about yourself.
I was born and raised in the DC/MD area and have been riding since I could hop on a bicycle! My whole family also rides :)