I realized that I couldn’t find the clothing I wanted to wear so thought I would do something about it and put my design background to some use.
Now I’ve moved up to the big wheels, and ride a Transition Smuggler. My absolute favorite place to ride is in Oakridge, Oregon, despite being in the UK. Closer to home I love the Peak District, the mix of rocky tech and epic views always leaves me buzzing after a ride and ready to plan the next one.
Instagram: @flareclothingco, @seehannah
Wow, where to start. My family has always cycled, after I went to university I was all ready to start teacher training to become a design and technology teacher but that’s where the plans stopped. Instead, I began working in an independent bike shop in Nottingham and thoroughly got sucked into the whirlwind of bikes, bike parts, clothing, and accessories!
Can you take us back to your first few mountain bike rides? What was your introduction like?
My first mountain bike ride was a family holiday to Jordan for a semi-slick trip from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea. We rented hardtails with non-working suspension the saw us mile after mile on gravel roads, but it was enough that when we got home it was straight to Sherwood Pines to tackle the red route.
What inspired you to better yourself as an off-road rider?
Riding with friends much more talented than I am. Sometimes I find it frustrating, but when there’s someone around that’s a few steps ahead of you it’s easy to visualize yourself in their position.
Have you had any biffs that were challenging for you on a physical/mental/emotional level? What did you do to heal and overcome?
In 2014 I had a bad crash that took most of the skin off my right midsection. I went off a drop onto smooth pebbles and the front wheel washed out. Although the skin has since grown back it thoroughly knocked my confidence and I’m not pleased to say that I’ve not been back to said trails since. A goal for 2017 perhaps?
For a long time, I didn’t have the best position on the bike - I’ve spent the last year with the mantra “elbows out, elbows out” and it seems to have stuck! I feel more planted and more stable, particularly at speed.
What do you love about riding your bike?
I love the opportunity to hang out with friends, I love the opportunity to see new and old places, I love being scared of something and conquering it, I love the rush of a fast descent and the feeling at the top of a long climb, I love getting changed after a long, muddy day and remembering the best bits, and I love planning the next adventure.
Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
My main bike is a 2016 Transition Smuggler. My husband is sponsored by Transition Bikes UK and I have to say I bought mine out of complete jealousy. I was planning on upgrading the bike I had (a Juliana Roubion) but gave his a go and it gave me so much confidence although the bike has less travel. I also have a Canyon Torque FRX downhill bike, and a Trek Domane road bike.
Your introduction to the cycling industry was brought by you working at a bike shop. What was your experience at the bike shop like and what was your job?
I worked on the shop floor, and a big part of my job was to make our female customers more comfortable in the shop - although there are plenty of ‘unusual’ customer anecdotes thinking about it now I really enjoyed helping people find the bike that would see them into new and varied adventures. It was both through my own experience and feedback from our female customers that inspired me to delve further into the design of women’s products in the cycling world.
You started Flare Clothing Co. because you wanted to fill a gap for women and cycling wear, tell us about Flare and what you stand for-
Although Flare started being a women’s focused brand and we still have a very strong reputation for making cool women’s clothing (Total Women’s Cycling Best 2016 MTB Clothing Award Winner!), in 2015 we introduced a men’s collection. We’re now all about riding with friends, family, partners, clubs, going on both mini and epic adventures and looking good while you do it!
What has been the most difficult part of starting up your own business?
Finding manufacturers! At the beginning I spent a lot of time Googling “clothing manufacture” and “sports fabric” and it didn’t get me anywhere!
Any new items coming soon that you would like folks to be on the lookout for and why are you excited for them?
I’m really excited about the whole 2017 collection, we’ve worked out some of the kinks we found through 2016 and I think we’ll have the best year ever! We’re also totally stoked to be officially heading to the USA and working with a distributor for the first time.
Tell us about why you created Team Flare and your hopes for the team-
To be completely honest it's a marketing plan. We need people of influence wearing the clothes so that we have content, feedback and hopefully some new contacts within the industry. Since the beginning #teamflare has grown hugely to include Instagrammers, social riders, enduro racers, crazy freeriders, and awesome cycling mums who provide us with amazing photos and videos for our social media channels as well as friendly faces in race villages.
Why should folks consider applying for Team Flare in 2018?
We’re always looking for people who can offer something new to the team. Whether that’s because you’re a guide, you come number one in every race you’ve ever entered, or for a reason, we’ve not thought of yet! We generally hold an open application every Autumn, this year we received over 200 entries and whittled them down to 8, so it’s pretty competitive, but however many applications we receive this year I can promise that we will read and consider every one.
What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling? Especially mountain biking?
I think there are a number of reasons - it can be intimidating in terms of courage, fitness, and skill. There’s also a lot of kit involved and it’s hard to know what’s necessary and what isn’t. Finally, if you don’t know someone to introduce you to the sport it’s difficult to rock up to a trail center without an “in” if you’re not naturally extroverted.
What do you feel could happen industry-wise to encourage more women to become involved with riding and the industry itself?
In the UK there are a lot of initiatives cropping up for women to get involved with and to give mountain biking a try. Hope has done loads of women’s rides all through 2016 and there are plenty of local bike shops and cafes (like Cafe Adventure, who are part of #teamflare) who doing groups rides both to introduce people to mountain biking and to encourage seasoned riders to explore their local areas.
Tell us a random fact about yourself!
Although Flare is all about color and adventure, I mainly wear grey!