Nancy Maxwell is the owner of Phoenix Racewear, a new brand of women’s motocross gear out of Denver.
She launched the company after a frustrating episode of trying to find gear that she liked — as any girl who takes part in a hobby off the beaten path will tell you — it’s a struggle. In an industry that provides thousands of options, women are represented by less than 5% of the motocross gear market.
She is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to realize her goal of increasing support of women and girls who ride. Check it out.
What was your motivation for starting Phoenix Racewear?
My motivation was primarily the lack of gear available to women who ride motorsports — there is gear available, of course, but the options we offer are far more diverse and representative of many styles, color palettes, and attitudes. Once I started developing ideas, I was motivated by so much more. My goals are now more focused on providing more technical features, a greater selection of sizes, and offering support to all levels of riders. The more I learn about the current climate of women’s motocross in contrast with the grit of the riders, it is more clear than ever that creating a support system and avenue for advancement is critical.
Where do you get ideas for styles?
The designs are inspired by many sources, ranging from nature to major art/fashion movements throughout history. Combining some of my favorite elements, like geometric shapes and natural elements into a design that then becomes equivocal with speed and strength creates this unique style that I work on for a long time until it is perfect. There is something powerful about taking ideas that are perhaps normally not associated with motocross and then introducing them to one another — in a similar way that motocross is primarily associated with men. Women are doing amazing things in the sport and surprising the world with a talent they aren’t expected to have.
Did you ever run up against any challenges or pushback?
The biggest challenge I face is how to offer a great product in terms of quality and price point, while starting small. Another more ambiguous challenge is the overall view of women’s gear and how it is currently perceived in the industry. My vision is more global — like here is a collection of sick gear, and these styles happen to be sized in proportion with the female body. I think right now it’s so separated and disproportionate, when it could be something really integrated. Honestly I know guys and girls who would wear almost any color if the design is right, so why not offer the same colors and designs in all sizes regardless whether it is labeled Men’s or Women’s?
What are you doing to get more women into motocross?
At this stage of the game I can’t say that I’m necessarily getting more women into motocross, however I am a person who can be of support to those who are building their career or want something really unique that no one else has right now.
When did you start riding? How?
I started riding dirtbikes about 8 years ago, when friends of mine introduced me to how insanely fun it was. I was 20 at the time, so I more or less worked at it until I was proficient without venturing into racing. Now it’s something that I absolutely can’t live without — especially with a family who loves it as much as I do.
What are you going to do with your Kickstarter funds? What’s in Phoenix’s future?
In short: A lot! The Kickstarter funds are projected to cover the cost of manufacturing two styles of race pants and gloves in the quantities that are required in order to distribute nationwide and also offer competitive pricing. It will also go to covering the production of a new race set release, scheduled for Spring of 2015. We do have some exciting plans for next year, and have offered numerous sponsorships to girls across the US (and abroad!) for next race season.
What was the worst job you’ve ever had?
The worst job I have ever had was a self-appointed duty to dig a swimming pool in the woods behind my house. I also convinced a friend of mine to help, and am 98% she would also list this as the worst job she ever had as well. What seemed brilliant in theory, actually turned out to be a 3ft x 2ft pit that was too far from a water source, and too near a wide variety of bugs who were annoyed with our scheme.
Advice for our readers? Message to politicians? Anything for the world?
The best advice I can offer is to always take setbacks in stride and remain flexible — because what may seem like failure in one moment will erupt with opportunity in the next. Without setbacks, there is not the time to pause and evaluate processes with any sort of dedication to improvement. It is absolutely amazing what happens when you are forced to look at a situation with new perspective.