Interview: Shredly's Founder Ashley Rankin
This past winter, I embarked on a trip of a lifetime: mountain biking for two weeks in New Zealand’s South Island. What I didn’t expect, was the truly amazing group of women with whom I would bond in the adventure. One of my fellow companions was Ashley Rankin, the founder of Shredly, a women’s mountain biking-inspired apparel company that has really exploded onto the scene.
You’d be hard pressed to go on any trail ride with a group of women and not see at least one pair of Shredly’s. Each piece in Shredly’s line-up, from their signature shorts to their chamois liners and tank tops are all so carefully thought out to be comfortable during the ride, while also being flattering and fun. I was skeptical at first about the front vents on the MTB shorts, but as someone who runs hot, I really appreciated having them during climbs and longer days on the trail. The colorful designs, though, are what initially drew me in. Who doesn’t love a geometric dinosaur print?!
So, who’s the woman behind these great technical and fashion conscious pieces?
Ashley is a very petite person with a radiant smile. She just exudes kindness. Superficially, she appears dainty: delicate & pretty. I admit to having made assumptions about her riding ability. On the trail, though, she demonstrated every day, and in all kinds of weather & terrain conditions, that she was one of the most capable and fearless riders in our group. Yet another example that #ladyshredders come in all forms. Even more impressive, however, is the story of how she started Shredly, and nurtured it into the thriving and fast growing business it is today.
Ashley studied fashion design in college, aspiring to make high end couture dresses in New York City. Ultimately, it was the mountains and life in the outdoors that she was drawn to most. When she discovered the complete lack of mountain biking apparel that fits women’s bodies and also suited her sense of style, she decided to combine her passion for riding and her design background to make her own: apparel that was technically functional, flattering, and didn’t shy away from pattern and color. Thus, Shredly was born.
On my most recent trip to Colorado for a little mini New Zealand trip reunion and to race the Beti Bike Bash (the biggest women’s only mountain bike race in the country), I caught up with Ashley to get a bit more of the story of her journey.
What was the hardest thing you encountered when starting Shredly, or something you wish someone had told you?
It was just after 2008 and funding just wasn’t available for a true start up. I really had to piece it together for the first 5 years being creative with financing, such as using a Kickstarter campaign. I also qualified for a funding source available for women & minority owned business. I wish someone would have emphasized the importance of hiring an accountant who understands your business, especially specific to your industry. It would have really helped to have that advice early on, and helped set myself up.
What gave you the idea to use friends and women who inspired you to name each design for your shorts?
I was new to the industry, so I was so grateful for everybody who helped me launch. Starting out having multiple colors, I knew it would be boring to just use colors as names, and my patterns were not solid colors. So, naming the shorts after individuals was a great way to thank everyone who helped me. Also, a few were not named after humans. Nikoli, for example, was my very special dog who is in heaven. The first ever pattern was the Ashley because all of my college senior design challenge patterns were peacock.
What is your favorite home trail and why?
I split my time in Carbondale, CO and Seattle, WA. My favorite in Carbondale is Prince Creek. It's just fun. You can connect a bunch of different trails together. There is one section called Trough. It’s takes only a minute and a half long to ride, but it's like a video game. No matter when I'm on it, it makes me smile. My favorite in Seattle, is Off the Grid. My riding has really evolved on that trail. When I started riding, there were tons of features that I couldn't ride. I've continued to chip away at the trail over the years and now I can ride the whole thing. It kind of parallels the development of Shredly, and integrating myself into the industry.
You are one of the most skilled/fearless riders I know, but what do you think is your biggest weakness on the trails?
Cornering. There's technical aspects of it that you can't fake. You can get around the corner, but unless you're doing it right technically, it doesn't feel right.
What is your favorite thing about being in the industry?
The customers have been incredible. Customers often find me at events and give me a hug because they remember her face and have been supportive. And there are those customers who've been there from the beginning, and who feel ownership in the brand and have shared it with their friends. I'm so grateful for that.
If people want to meet you and check out Shredly in person, what events are you/shredly going to be attending later this season?
As a huge fan of Shredly shorts, and owner of several pairs, I am grateful to Ashley for having brought her fashion and her technical and business skills to an often bland and male-dominated market. Oh, and her general stoke for shredding trails and empowering other women to do the same can’t be understated. It’s pretty clear how her tenacity, fearlessness and sense of fun on the trail has translated so well to running her business. #boss
Check out all the styles and technical features that Shredly shorts, tops & other activewear piece have to offer: https://shredly.com/shop-styles/. For a limited time, Pretty Damned Fast readers can get free USPS Priority shipping with code: shipLOVEPDF18 (US addresses only).