Happy 20th Anniversary to us

2022 is shaping up to be a truly exciting year for Daisy Bell. Not only is her business LadyBiker celebrating its 20th anniversary, she has just been named Retail Motorcycle Apparel Managing Director of the Year by SME News.

The magazine’s annual Managing Director of the Year Awards celebrate those who are setting themselves apart as “extraordinary” in the face of global instability. Its research team casts its judgement based on criteria including innovation, longevity, customer feedback and business performance.

Award co-ordinator Jazmin Collins said: “The awards are given solely on merit and are awarded to commend those most deserving for their ingenuity and hard work, distinguishing them from their competitors and proving them worthy of recognition.”

Daisy said: “It is a huge honour even to have been nominated, let alone win! The criteria used by SME News mirrors our own priorities in our day-to-day activities, so it’s hugely touching that this has been recognised. And it’s certainly the icing on the cake during our 20th anniversary year.”

The history of LadyBiker

The SME News accolade is the culmination of years of hard work by the tenacious entrepreneur, who took over the LadyBiker reins from her mother-in-law Pauline back in 2014.

Daisy explained how the business came to be. “LadyBiker was borne out of a mere spark of an idea, when Pauline saw a gap in the market for a provider of good quality, ladies-cut motorcycle clothing,” she said.

“Back then, bike gear was really basic, usually just black leather and it would make women look like the Michelin Man! So she started to import Bering clothing from France and sell online, which was still a very new shopping experience at the time.”

After growing the business over the next decade, riding the recession that hit the global markets from 2007 to 2009, Pauline took the decision to retire in 2014. Happily, the natural successor was very close to home.

As mum-of-two Daisy explains, taking on the LadyBiker mantle brought everything full circle for her. She said: “Biking has been part of my life since I was a girl. When I was 12, my dad opened a transport café called The Chalet in Sussex. My brother Martin still runs it now. The café was predominantly for bikers, so they were always part of my world growing up.

“I found bikers to have a really strong ethos about family and friendship. I worked there during holidays, so it helped me learn how to speak to different people of all ages and that ethos sticks with me to this day.”

“I’d be ignored for half an hour by the male staff!”

Having begun riding pillion in her early 20s, and passing her motorcycle test in 2014, Daisy says she would find herself frustrated by the testosterone-fuelled atmosphere in bike shops.

“I’d go in for my gear and be ignored for half an hour by the male staff!” she said. “So when I took LadyBiker on, the key thing for me was that I would be utterly focused on customer service. From my own experience, I knew that some women may feel nervous or embarrassed when they came to us. So I have always treated each and every customer as an individual, with their own background, worries, needs and ambitions.

“Now, I have a great set of ladies working alongside me who value the importance of going ‘above and beyond’, a million miles away from the usual male-orientated bike shop.”

She added: “Ultimately, we strive to give our customers a happy shopping experience from start to finish. This is key to everything we do.”

A superb online journey

While LadyBiker had a spell as an in-person shopping experience at its headquarters at Rendlesham in Suffolk, the pandemic prompted Daisy to return to being an online-only store.

“Since then, I’ve worked really hard to create a nice place for customers to be,” she said. “Our website is designed to be easy to use, tasteful and personal. Unlike many online retailers, we take the time to get to know the needs of the ladies who buy from us. For example, they’re always welcome to send us their measurements to make sure that an item they’re ordering will definitely fit. Of course, we delete these as soon as we’ve used them!”

Daisy, whose customers come from as far afield as the United States and New Zealand, is proud of the ethical approach she takes to advising her customers. “I know the products really well; I know how they fit and I know their features,” she said. “So I’ll ask the customer lots of questions about what kind of riding they’re doing; that way, I know exactly what to suggest.

“I’d never sell someone a high-end jacket if it isn’t right for them. I’d rather give them honest advice about what they need, even if that means that they’ll spend less with us.”

She added: “So many shops buy clothing in quantity and then sell it cheaply to get rid of it. This means that women end up with the wrong thing for them altogether. That’s not something we would ever do. We also steer clear of using influencers to promote our gear; encouraging people to buy it because of the way it looks on someone else doesn’t sit right with us.”

An independent approach

To this end, LadyBiker has always been and will always be a completely independent retailer, with no ties to any particular manufacturers. “The beauty of being independent is that we’re not bound to promote one product over another,” said Daisy. “We’re lucky to work with some of the best manufacturers of women’s bike gear who are incredibly forward-thinking. Even the sizing is starting to change, with us now being able to access plus, petite, tall and short items.

“What’s more, we stock the largest range of sizes in the country, going from UK size 4 to 34. We see it as bringing the world’s best motorcycle clothing for ladies brought under one roof.”

LadyBiker, whose Facebook community currently stands at more than 14,600 followers, also takes an ethical approach to environmental factors. Indeed, thanks to its carbon neutral delivery service, the business offset more than 18,500 lbs of CO2 last year. Daisy said: “This is equivalent to 1,678 burgers eaten or six cows burping for a year!”

The company’s carbon neutral service compliments its partnership with courier DPD. “They’re a bit more expensive than their competitors, but we chose them due to their commitment to sustainability and environmental factors,” Daisy explained.

Supporting good causes

Meanwhile, the LadyBiker team is committed to charitable endeavours, too, helping a number of good causes including Unicef , Cancer Research UK, Nationwide Association of Blood Bikes, Shelter and British Heart Foundation. In total, the business has donated almost £14,000 to charity over the years.

LadyBiker also supports members of the armed forces and the emergency services, offering discounts to Blue Light Card holders and members of the Defence Discount Service. “Other groups we support in this way are Curvy Riders and the Women’s International Motorcycle Association,” said Daisy. “We think it’s really important to give back to organisations doing such great things for female riders.”

And as for a personal career highlight, Daisy has seen some of her gear gracing the small screen, as LadyBiker outfits have been used in Coronation Street and the explosive BBC drama Killing Eve. “It was pretty cool to see our jacket on Villanelle!” said Daisy.

She added: “We’re absolutely thrilled to have reached our 20th year in business. We pour our heart and soul into what we do, and that won’t stop any time soon. Here’s to the next 20 years!”

For more information, follow LadyBiker on Facebook and Instagram.