Crafted in Carhartt is a blog that whole-heartedly supports women in the jobs that bring them joy fulfillment. It’s such a thrill to see ladies killing it in a male-dominated field. Unfortunately, gender bias in the workplace is still very real today. As Sara Morris, co-owner of Mello Velo Bike Shop and Cafe, says,
“People pretty much always assume I know nothing about bikes. Now with the cafe, people always assume that I run the cafe, and Steve runs the bike shop since we’re husband and wife, and because that’s what gender roles would dictate. In reality, we both do everything.
I never really experienced sexism until I opened up my own shop (which I guess is pretty good that it took that long, but sad also)! People don’t expect me to be able to carry a bike up the stairs, or lift it up into a rack or stand, or be able to do anything mechanical let alone ride a bike while wearing a skirt or heels (on the rare occasions I do). It used to really bother me, but now I’m just more comfortable being myself, and being confident in my knowledge, skills, and competency — I chalk it up to maturity and growing up. It’s nice that the guys I work with notice the sexist remarks I can get and always have my back.”
I like the idea that your own competency and confidence can triumph over others who, whether knowingly or not, try to make you feel small or less qualified. Five years into owning her own business, Sara has learned a great deal about herself and the trade. She gets to be creative in every aspect of her job and she wears many hats. From selling and fixing bikes, to baking and serving the locals delicious treats, to helping spread bike culture in the city of Syracuse as a healthy way of life and a booster to the environment— Sara gets to feel good and proud at the end of a long work day.
Sara’s advice for folks hoping to follow a similar path and open a bike shop:
“A lot of bike shops open with at least $200k start-up capital, and dig themselves into a hole right out of the gate. Also, they’re paying people because they don’t know how to fix bikes themselves. If you want to start small, make sure to do your research, and stay true to your instincts. Be prepared to do it all and work a lot when you’re getting started. You don’t have to be ‘old’ or independently wealthy to start a business, just be smart.”