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Meet Jennifer Kriske of Machines For Freedom in Highland Park

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jennifer Kriske.

Jennifer, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
In 2014, I was training to ride my bike through the Pyrenees. The trip would be 6 days long, 600 miles and I would traverse 2-3 mountain passes a day. As I trained for the trip, I realized how much was lacking in women’s cycling kit. In addition to fit and aesthetics (which was awful), the kit didn’t perform like the corresponding men’s lines. I thought to myself, “This isn’t rocket science” and decided to start designing my own apparel from the ground up.

In addition to the clothing, a female point-of-view was also grossly lacking in the sport. At the time, the sport was drenched in stories of grit and suffering surrounding racing history; stories about men. So in addition to designing great apparel, Machines showcases the sport from a new vantage point. One that is about adventure, beauty and the human connection that this wonderful sport provides.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It has definitely not been smooth. I have lots of ideas on how to grow our product line and expand our reach. These plans require capital and the types of investors interested in backing a niche consumer products business like ours tend to be passionate cyclists. Those high net worth cyclists also tend to be men. If I thought the cycling industry was a boys club, the venture capital world is a full-blown frat party. I even had one potential investor tell me he wanted to connect and discuss my business. It quickly became clear he was more interested in a date.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
At the most basic level, Machines For Freedom designs and sells cycling apparel. But at our core, we strive to empower women through the sport and its lifestyle. Our unique take on kit design and the way we have wholeheartedly embraced the women’s cycling scene are the two things we are most known for. We are the first company to focus solely on high-end women’s gear. We are the first cycling company to make inclusivity, in terms of age, nationality, and body type, a core part of our message. And we are one of the very few cycling companies founded and operated by a woman.

What were you like growing up?
I was a handful! My mother tells me, I sprang from the womb laughing and people have told me my laugh is infectious (and loud!). I was also the kid that could never be told what to do. If I didn’t agree with what I was “supposed” to be doing, I would just ignore it and do it my way. It’s an attitude that never left and is definitely apparent in Machines’ creation story.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Tracy Chandler

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