The past two weeks have gone by in a whirlwind. Last week, I participated in (and won!!) the FastPitch business contest in Savannah for local startups and this week I flew up to DC where I attended the Women and Biking Forum at the National Bike Summit. Whew! More social interaction and networking than this little introvert knew what to do with (aka I'm still processing). This just proves that you can achieve and succeed at things you never imagined you'd do. :)
FastPitch by Creative Coast was a pitching contest for businesses - no I don't mean baseball - where contestants give a three-minute pitch to a panel of judges and an audience of local businesses and investors. I've never watched the TV show Shark Tank, but apparently it's very similar. Truth be told, I never expected to win and simply hoped to get some good advice, feedback, and practice talking to people about my project. I wore my latest skirt sample (pictured above), got some great feedback on the style, raised a little bit of money to help me create more skirt samples for upcoming markets, festivals, and pop-up shops, and got a little press out of it (I'm in the paper, Mom!). Turns out the weeks of late nights and stressful prep beforehand paid off in a big way. Thank you Creative Coast and Factory45!
Within three days of the FastPitch contest, I turned around and flew up to DC for the Women and Biking Forum, which was part of the National Bike Summit hosted by the League of American Bicyclist. I heard about the Forum through Elizabeth, the blogger behind TinLizzieRidesAgain - thanks again, Elizabeth, and great to see you! As soon as she told me about it in early February, I knew I had to attend. I reserved a ticket and booked my airfare a mere two weeks ago and had no idea what to expect. To my surprise and pleasure, it was a huge event. I'm not good at estimating crowds, but there were way too many people for me to count, and I was only able to meet a small fraction of the people who were there. It ranged in attendees from bike advocacy groups, to cycle clubs, bike industry employees, and other bike and accessory brands from all over the country and Canada, too. I got to see a Buca Boot in person, learned about Po Campo's bike bags, and tried on a Cleverhood rain cape; and did you know there is a store in Greenville, SC, called PedalChic that is dedicated to women's bikes and accessories? If you can't tell, I had a great time and learned all about the push to close the gender gap in biking, including statistics that you can check out through PeopleforBikes. Not to mention, I'm so happy to have met and introduced the Bicycle Wrap Skirt to so many supportive biking enthusiasts.
I'm grateful for all of this forward momentum, even as I feel like I'm taking a step backwards to re-evaluate and come up with a better solution for my fastening system. I have several beautiful samples waiting for the fastener installation and someone lined up to sew more samples for me, but my fabric is backordered (again!) and I'm back in research and development mode. I refuse to launch a product that is not up to my standards, and while the buttons work, I would have to create sizes to ensure the correct placement. I'm convinced there is a better system than the buttons anyway, so I'll be testing out my new ideas next week.
All in all, I'm feeling very encouraged and am feeling like we need to start a fun (no pressure) women's ride around downtown Savannah. Maybe we could start it off with a braid bar (fancy hair-dos) and end with some fresh smoothies and yoga in the park. :) Who's with me?!