As I ended my talk at the IMBAx event last Friday at the IMBA World Summit, I concluded with:
“I believe our strength is in our numbers.
I believe we can empower voice and strength with young women labeled victims, because as I know firsthand, a victim is only a victim if she believes it.
I believe a mountain bike can be the vehicle to create a ripple of change in our communities.
I KNOW that one woman can make a difference. I know that once voice matters. But I also know that our strength IS in our numbers and together, we CAN pedal a revolution that can change the world!”
As we lay the foundation for the development of our domestic program, Strength in Numbers, one thing has emerged – our desire to partner with companies that lead with soul, and ethics, and passion. Companies led by founders that believe that the bottom line is only part of the goal, but that what we do in our communities to create change, is what we should be striving for.
Our Strength in Numbers got a little stronger over the past month as the amazing founders and teams at Skratch Labs, Alchemy Bicycle Company, Shredly, and Primal Wear put their weight and more importantly, their souls, into our camps. Moving beyond sponsorship, these are companies that are willing to take a stand and become integral partners of our program. Giving not just product, money, and social media outreach, but time and human interaction. Looking at ways that they can be engaged with the young women that come through our program at the camps, how they can provide product and services to support the incubation of leadership development, and how they can connect us to their networks and partners to broaden our base of support. The key? This isn’t about bottom line or a tax write off – its about making a sacrifice, taking a stand to believe that change is possible.
Our keystone is Skratch Labs. I presented at TEDxMileHigh with its co-founder, Dr. Allen Lim who spoke about the founding of Skratch and identity. Allen has worked in pro cycling for the past decade with the best of the best, and when his contract with Team RadioShack was up, he made the leap to full blown entrepreneur to launch Skratch Labs. He also believes in the transformational power of the bicycle. Skratch is less than a year old, and after I met with his team, Allen told me, “we know this isn’t necessarily the right decision for a company so young and vulnerable in terms of bottom line, but it’s 100% the right decision on an emotional level” and all their staff stated they were fully behind the decision to partner with Strength in Numbers and to get creative on how to do it.
The full details are yet to come… but needless to say, the campers at our week long camps will be well fed and hydrated the same way pro cyclists are, thanks to the Skratch Food Truck.
Alchemy Bicycle Company just moved their entire operations to Denver, from Austin, and with boxes still unpacked, a workshop still being assembled, they offered to build me a bike to take to Afghanistan – the first bike they’ll build in Colorado, #001 off the floor. A hand built bike, especially the ones they produce, is a thing of beauty and I couldn’t be more honored. Blown away, in truth. But what really blew me away was when their welder, Jeff, contacted me and told me how honored he was to build my bike after they had a team meeting about Alchemy supporting Mountain2Mountain through our Strength in Numbers program. As co-founder, Matt Simpson stated more than once, “The bikes are the easy part, let’s make sure we get creative in how we support this program and have a presence at the camps.”
Primal Wear’s President, Dave Edwards was at the meeting with Alchemy and we spoke again after I presented at IMBAx. Reiterating their desire to support and be involved, we discussed the way that the bike clothing can imbue the spirit of a ‘team’, of camraderie between our young women, and be another layer of how we intend to treat our participants like pro riders, instilling in them the belief that they can move mountains if they use their voice.
Something Shredly knows all too well as founder and Aspen local, Ashley Rankin launched her edgy women’s specific mountain bike shorts line. Ashely spearheaded a small outreach event in Aspen to launch Strength in Numbers in the community as it will be a site for one of our spring camps. But like Skratch and Alchemy, the goal is to look beyond product and how Primal Wear and Shredly can instill their character and ethos into the camps directly to further strengthen our numbers.
It’s a sneak peek, with much more to come as we lay our foundation in the months ahead…but with partners with soul, our strength is building. As Allen said to me after our very first meeting, “Let’s do something amazing.”
Donate today to help launch this program and help build our numbers!!