BikeEnvy talks to Anna Glowinski


Anna Glowinski is the force behind AnaNichoola, the super stylish cycle wear brand that is by women for women.  We caught up with Anna to talk about how she got into cycling and then into designing and manufacturing a range of  fashionable but practical cycling clothes and accessories.



BE:  Let’s start at the beginning, what got you into cycling?


AG:  I started racing when I was 5, my dad was into it so he took me and my big brother along to cyclo-cross events. I didn't have pushy parents, they just loved us being outside and getting tired and muddy at the weekends.  I loved competing and improving and at a young age I won few national titles in cross and MTB.  By the time I was 15 I had people in the sport trying to take me to the next level, but I wasn't interested, in fact, I had totally stopped cycling by the age of 16.


Last year (aged 24) I started racing again, with my new team the Mule Bar Girls. They made racing exciting again and within a month I'd raced myself fit at Herne Hill track and the Crystal Palace circuit, but, very quickly I got bored again. I've been fit, I've raced bikes, to me it's nothing new and I can't motivate myself to train.  However, I did a Downhill MTB race, the Megavalanche, and decided that this is where I wanted to explore.  I've learnt to jump - I can now nail small doubles, drop in at skate parks and get down steep, rooty trails pretty fast - and... I'm LOVING it!!!  I improve every time I ride, I'm excited to practice and this is where my heart lies.  I live for learning (and also for showing off a bit) and here is something I can learn and enjoy.


You can read about Anna experience at the Megavalanche here: Anna Glowinski races Megavalanche


Anna Glowinski doing what she loves 



BE:  So how did you get into designing clothes for women who cycle?


AG:  Ha!  I feel like I've told this story a million times.  It's fairly obvious I guess, I felt that there was a need for design-led female clothing.  My degree was in geography and not having contacts in the clothing industry made for a long, dark struggle.  It was really frustrating, but finally I've found amazing manufacturers in Italy, Belgium, Pakistan and the UK. The process goes something like this: I start with design research in cycle clothing, main stream fashion trends, surf and skate brands, then I move onto designing by hand, sending sketches away, getting a sample back, testing it myself and using other riders.  I do that lots of times until it's perfect.  It's cool as I ride enough and use a lot of different women who ride, to test prototypes, so I know that nothing will get over-looked and comfort and performance will have been thought about inside out and back to front.




BE:  What defines AnaNichoola, how is it different to other brands who offer women’s specific clothing? 


AG: AnaNichoola is a very creative concept, it is as much about women's cycling, art and design as it is about selling clothing.  I sponsor riders and although there are other design cycling brands out there, none are so embedded in racing. Women's cycling is often neglected, both with products on offer and the way that events and races are organised.  I think women's cycling is an exciting sport, it's expressive and dynamic and AnaNichoola encompasses and embraces all of that.  I experiment with designs and like to do things just for attention, (I often get drunk and take my clothes off!), my latest team kit design has fluffy cuffs and collar!  It's a brand and a lifestyle, not just "stuff".


AnaNichoola gloves 



BE:  Has cycle clothing been a difficult business to get into, do you feel like a woman in a man’s world?


AG:  It has been difficult finding the right people, I'm young and inexperienced and knew nothing about manufacturing and how to make it happen, but I think in many ways my naivety helped me; I had no idea it could be so hard, I thought everything would be fine... and it was!  I do think being a woman in a man's world can help.  The bike industry is quite informal and friendly anyway, people are nice to me and offer help and advice, is that because I'm a girl, or is it because everyone else is fairly small and they also work hard and with passion?  Is it simply because we're all in the same boat?


Mostly I enjoy achieving and learning.  I get such a buzz from solving a problem and seeing my products in shops and getting good reviews.  I love the marketing side, creating the brand and doing promo side of it.  I work with some wicked people who do my web or photography, they're all bike people and work hard.   I'm not so keen on the knitty gritty of selling, in the future I'd like someone to do it for me!




BE:  What has been your most exciting development or achievement with the brand?


AG:  There's not one thing, but I'd say that at the moment I'm living on air!  Every day moves so fast and is so exciting, it's taken a long time to get to this stage and could all still go wrong.  I won a bottle of champagne at the Madison trade show and I've been saving it for that special moment.  I'm not sure what exactly, but I'm sure I'll know when the time comes, when I feel confident it's all real and then I'll get wasted!


AnaNichoola Style Your Ride




BE:  Do you source locally or from around the world?  Is that side of the business fun?


AG:  I love speaking to the manufacturers and learning from them.  I want to visit Pakistan and Italy but have a phobia of flying!




BE:  Are women more discerning purchases? 


AG:  Well, this is a very interesting question and not one I've ever been asked, but have touched on it conversationally with various people.  Retailers say they have to stock five options of something in order to sell one, because women want choice and they will spend more time making decisions than men.  Of course that is difficult for the bike shops because they end up with surplus stock.




BE:  You have an impressive list of stockists now, how receptive have retailers been to your range?


AG:  Everyone is really positive, the gloves seem to sell better in some places than others and I guess that's normal. The answer now will be if they re-order from my Winter Range, which has considerably more pieces in it.  I hope they do!  And I've barely scratched the surface, there's loads of shops and it's a mammoth task to begin to contact them.  I love it though, because I'll go in and get a cup of tea and chat about the shop and my brand and our experiences. It's cool to meet the people selling my stuff.




BE:  Ultimately, where would you like to see AnaNichoola clothes go?


AG:  I'm aiming high!  I envision AnaNichoola to be something like the Roxy of the cycling world.  They manage to combine performance wetsuits with fashion clothing without undermining either.  I want it to be the first name in women's cycle clothing, but it's a huge job for one person with no money!  In the end, so long as I can make a living, enough to move out of my parents place and to be able to afford my bike race entry fees and travel then I'm good.



Check out the lovely AnaNichoola range


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