Ambassador Highlight ft Shanna!
Shanna joined the Kitsbow Ambassador Team in 2022. She currently lives in Western North Carolina and is a positive influence in the bike industry locally and also across the nation.
She has dedicated herself to empowering women and getting them out on bike! We are proud to have Shanna as part of the Kitsbow family!
Continue reading for an in-depth interview with Shanna where we talk about bikes, business, and sustainable business (from manufacturing clothing to mountain bike skills clinics).
The Power of Pisgah – What does this area mean to you?
In 2007 I separated my shoulder on the Green River and mountain biking was there to pick me back up, squeeze the water out of me and help me build back my confidence in myself.
It wasn't easy but Pisgah National Forest showed me that I could do a whole lot of amazing things. I've ridden every trail in Pisgah on a singlespeed and most on a rigid singlespeed. Pisgah showed me that I can do really, really hard things, fall down and get back up, tramp around the woods for 14+ hours, get caught in the dark, and swim across rivers with my bike among so many other things. It introduced me to a community of incredibly talented female riders who also believed in and supported me and stoked my fire! We grew and learned and shredded together and built each other up. We continue to do so!
You own and manufacture bike components. How did EndlessBikeCo Start?
Long story short, EndlessBikeCo began as a USA Manufactured singlespeed component brand. It's gotten me jobs (at Industry 9), taken me to Japan, Australia and Alaska to ride to name just a few places, and introduced me to some of the best people in the world (singlespeeders are an amazingly kind and though can be kinda gruff looking, a gentle and tight knit community).
I now make some pretty awesome geared chainrings as well. I don't manufacture or anodize the parts myself but I do lazer them in two separate processes and do everything else for the brand. Packaging, emails, shipping, receiving, quality control, laser etching, I mean everything else. If you send the company an email you get me, every time. I also personally sign every packing slip and email every customer when their order is being shipped.
EndlessBikeCo. has taught me that I can do really hard business things, patience, how to stand up for myself, and that I don't actually have any control over really anything! It has also taught me that I'm ok with my small business always remaining small. I'm not trying to get rich, I'm just trying to sell great bike parts that look good and that good people want to ride all while donating to important organizations and making just enough money to live an exciting, fulfilling and happy life.
You’re pretty well known as the Princess of Pisgah or the First Lady of Shred
Well I don't know about all of that but I have been called the Pisgah Fairy. It must be my cat ears and wings. My best friend, colleague and mentor Beth Roberts was the original Pisgah Princess and though she is now kinda the MOAB princess she'll always be the Pisgah Princess to me.
What does it mean to be an inspiration to women in all capacities of Mountain Biking?
I feel like I'm in an incredibly unique position to build up all of the womxn around me as my mentors and friends have built me up!! I've worked really hard to become the mountain bike instructor that I am today. I'm now a PMBIA level 3 certified mtb skill instructor and I'm a level 1 course conductor apprentice. I've worked for mtb instruction businesses all over the country with the sole goal of learning as much as I can from my talented mentors to become the best mountain bike instructor I can be for my clients!
Do you know I take a certification course or private lesson every year to improve both my teaching and riding? I take my profession very seriously while still being open, fun and friendly.
I find confidence in knowledge and experiences so I've worked really hard to gain both. I want the womxn of the world to see, feel and experience the power they hold inside of themselves and I feel like I get to help each one of them fing that every time they go on a ride with me, take a lesson with me or come out to my SheShreds!
I'm also in a unique position in that I own two of my own businesses so I can stand up for and say what I believe in. I think that alone is really empowering for a lot of people. I can also wear cat ears if I want to (which I do) and I wish everyone had the confidence to do what they want and be who they want as long as it doesn't hurt other people. It feels really good to empower womxn. It lights my fire and keeps me going! It's also incredibly important for me to surround myself with strong, powerful, empowered womxn so I suppose essentially every womxn I help to empower is another one of those strong empowered womxn in my circle! All of that being said, I work with male identifying clients as well and find that I can also empower them! As humans we all need a little boost sometimes!
What is your favorite trail to ride in Pisgah National Forest?
Well, this is a complicated question too! I loved the old Black Mountain prior to the reroute the best. It taught me that yes, some trails are easier ridden in one direction but also that it's absolutely ok to suffer and hike my bike up a really difficult trail (thanks Pisgah Productions PMBAR). It taught me to walk things and come back and try it again and again and again until I have acquired the skill to ride it. It gave me features to look forward to riding someday! It also gave me a really excellent trail to take friends who were visiting the area. Long climbs, brutal hike-a-bikes, excellent views, maybe even a rattlesnake to see, and then an excellent incredibly technical trail to shred down. It also gave me the opportunity to educate my friends on how to proceed on trail features they are unable to ride in a sustainable-for-the-trail kind of way. I wish more riders would do that. It also showed me that sometimes even though I've ridden something before, I may still land on my head. We have to be humble!
How do you teach people to ride sustainably?
Having my favorite trail rerouted showed me how our actions as mountain bikers can lose us some of our most favorite, important places. That was the catalyst for me going out and getting my Leave No Trace Master Educator Certification so I can help educate other riders and particularly my clients. It breaks my heart when local guide companies tell their clients to go around a feature (this widen's our trails) rather than taking the time to educate their riders on how to ride something or how to walk the feature.
This actually happened this week while I was teaching a group of women during a clinic. I taught my women all how to ride the feature the guiding company's all male clients all rode around. That is really empowering! All of that being said, the new Black Mountain trail is also excellent because I can now ride it in both directions without having to hike my bike uphill for hours or touch a gravel road. I would always rather ride singletrack than ride gravel and now I can for that ride! That's a silver lining to the loss I suppose!
Let’s talk about suffering… sounds like you enjoy a good challenge!
Yes, Suffering makes me feel alive and reminds me that I can do really really hard things. It's also just one more reinforcement in my mind that the only constant is change. I also really love a night time, lights off, full moon out and back on Heartbreak Ridge and I love going up Trace Ridge, down Spencer Branch, up Spencer Branch and down Trace Ridge. 100% singletrack and I only have to walk up a few spots.
Why did you want to be a Kitsbow Ambassador?
I support the work that Kitsbow is doing because they aren't just in business for profit. They care about the impact they have on the environment. This is incredibly important to me because we only get one Earth, we don't get our wild places back once they're gone and my office is out of doors!
With the current climate crisis it certainly isn't good for my instruction business when the weather just keeps getting more unpredictable. Now if Kitsbow could just do something about everyone who cuts down trees and clears green spaces to plant houses and air bnb's.
Kitsbow also cares about the impact they have on their local community. I love that Kitsbow is in the process of becoming a Certified B Corp. I know people will say that businesses just have to pay a lot of money to get that but they also have to jump through a ton of hoops to gain that prestigious certification by being sustainable for both environment and community. Those things are important and I can tell you there are a lot of brands in the bike industry who could afford to care about those things and put their money toward it but don't. Kitsbow is a gem in that regard. Those are both things that are really important to me. It's also why I think it's important to support USA manufacturing. The people who machine and ano my parts are my friends and they live in my community, I also understand that we have tighter regulations that help protect the environment than other places do. Sure I could probably pay $1.00 to have my parts made but that doesn't help my community and out of sight out of mind doesn't really work with me when it comes to pollution and the environment. Kitsbow cares about social justice and seem to be pretty open about where they stand on social justice issues. I also really love having someone on the inside and Kitsbow is now employee owned so even better!
You have a family member that works at Kitsbow, what does it feel like to be a an ambassador for a company that also supports your sister?
When the pandemic hit, my sister left her job in the restaurant industry to work for Kitsbow. She was hesitant to make a move from making pretty good money with tips and having a fairly flexible schedule to working a 9-5 but once she signed on with Kitsbow all of her hesitations were put to rest. Aside from predictable income and paid time off she found herself working for a company that was very transparent on it's social issues as well as where she stood in the company, how she could move up and was feeling both seen and heard by the management and her co-workers. As I understand it she is now managing folx herself and I love that she is often very closely involved in the manufacture of the garments I get to wear. She's also one hell of a good worker with a lot of hustle. We get that from her mom. She also just genuinely loves her job! Now if I could only get her back on a bike! She's more of a hiker kinda woodsy gal.
How can people find you and connect with you?