Here at Thousand, diversity and innovation are at the core values of who we are. We strive to support members of our community who are taking design to new heights and making their industries a more inclusive space for all people. When Jenn Kriske saw a need for cyclist clothing designed with women in mind, she started her brand Machines for Freedom and committed herself to representing women in her sport.
THOUSAND: Tell us about yourself.
JENN KRISKE: I’m a former film studies major, turned restaurant designer, turned entrepreneur and wouldn’t trade my eclectic background for the world. I love connecting dots, like how product, story-telling, and the nuts and bolts of business all fit together to create something unique. And I love creating. Whether it’s a space, a piece of clothing, or a business, I find the process of putting puzzle pieces together to create something bigger than myself incredibly gratifying.
T: Why did you start Machines for Freedom?
JK: Before Machines launched, the clothing options for women cyclists were dismal and the industry had very little interest in engaging with this passionate community. Riders repeatedly asked for better options and they were repeatedly ignored. Then, after one long training ride, a pair of very expensive bib shorts with poor quality control almost landed me in the hospital. (No joke!) I decided enough was enough. I had the design training to recognize that the product could be so much better, and a fire in my belly to better represent women in the sport.
T: What does the future of urban riding/commuting look like to you?
JK: A necessity! When I lived near the beach I used to ride my bike to and from my design office every day, and when I think back on that time, I can’t remember a day I came home from work in a bad mood. No matter how stressful my day was it all melted away during that three mile pedal home. I walked through the front door both relaxed and energized. It was magic! Now, with apps delivering groceries to our front porch, and YouTube delivering workouts to our living rooms, there are fewer and fewer motivations to be outdoors. Urban riding is the perfect anecdote to our increasingly isolated lifestyles. Not to mention, it’s way more fun than sitting in traffic!
T: What are your recommendations for resources or groups that advocate for more diverse and inclusive riding in the US?
JK: If you’re interested in venturing off paved roads and into nature, then definitely check out WTF Bike Explorers. They host clinics and beginner campouts for the women/trans/femme community. You don’t need a fancy bike or fancy gear to get started, and for me personally, adventuring outdoors gave me even more confidence commuting around town. When it’s just you and your bike in nature, without access to Lyft, you learn a lot about self sufficiency!
As a brand, Thousand believes that communities are made stronger by bringing many voices to the table – and making sure those voices are heard. And in a traditionally male-dominated industry, we hope to open the door to a more diverse audience and create a strong community of urban riders that is open and accessible to people of all races, ages, gender identities, and sexual orientations.