If you don't know Kelli, you probably know of her. She's covered in tattoos and has a haircut that screams attitude. But Kelli doesn't bite. In fact, at LA Sweat we have a different name for her....
You see, Kelli is not just the founder and owner of LA Sweat. She's our Oprah. Seriously, she's like a never ending Oprah's Christmas Special. Walk up to her and compliment her glasses and the next thing you know, YOU GET A PAIR OF GLASSES! Tell her you need a new backpack and YOU GET A BACK PACK! If you're hungry, you'll find you're all of a sudden holding a sandwich. Thirsty? Your water bottle will be full of your favorite flavored Nuun. Your tire pressure is always perfect. Your bike is clean and already packed in the car and ready to go. Forgot to pack that post-race recovery drink, she's got extras, along with Sour Patch Kids and Australian licorice (just for Christa). It's nuts. Maybe she has secret invisible tattooed elves working for her? We do not know. But however it happens, we love it.
The other crazy thing is, if you asked Kelli 5 years ago if she thought she'd be driving around the country, providing opportunities for riders to showcase their talent on a national stage with her own elite women's cycling team, she'd have problem said, "What is an elite women’s cycling team?"
A mere 5 years ago Kelli was the ultimate LA casual commuter. She had a successful career as a hairstylist, and had just moved from Seattle to LA. She had a bike and found her home in cycling in the “fixie” world. Mostly, she rode around at night, drank beers and never wore spandex.
Fast forward to now. She sits in an office surrounded by bikes, parts and team gear and will be debuting LA Sweat for the 3rd year on the national level.
Kelli formed LA Sweat out of the Ritte Women's Cycling team -- a team she started with 2 friends after attending Interbike 4 years ago. When looking back Kelli remembers something clicked that week. "I was where I was supposed to be, in my element. I went home and a few months later quit the career I thought I would have my whole life and threw caution to the wind. I wanted nothing more to become a professional bike racer. Let’s just say my parents weren't super excited and thought I was crazy."
The Ritte Women's Cycling Team bloomed and in 2014 Kelli sat down with her friends from Manual For Speed and devised a new concept. Let's not be moving billboards, let's be a team, like the LA Lakers and Chicago Bulls. This new team will be the same thing, year after year, representing brands in a new way.
And LA Sweat was born.
Sooooo how's it going? I, Becca, am going to step back let Kelli to you, in her own words, what it's like to be a team manager.
KELLI: LA Sweat is going into it’s 3rd year, we operate on a budget thats laughable. I make sacrifices in my personal life, invest my own money and I wouldn't change a thing. After running the team also while working a full time job I was in the position to take 2016 and focus fully on LA Sweat. My days are filled with constant emails, logistics, answering rider questions, and an insane amount of organizing. My racing has taken a back seat and my focus is the continued success of this team. With each year comes more pressure to up the support to my riders. I'm constantly networking and searching for that “pot of gold” at the end of the sponsor rainbow. I've said before that this is my full-time job, it just doesn't pay. I am paid when I get to see and be a part of this amazing group of inspiring women accomplish their goals and in their success.
The struggle to run a women's program is real and it isn't always the easiest. I am incredibly thankful to the brands and people who have supported me personally and in my career and never hesitated to jump on board with all my crazy ideas! I couldn't do any of it if I didn't have my best friend/teammate/partner Becca Schepps. She runs our site, blog, and helps with our social and her eye for style is insane.
I will continue to strive to grow this team and grow the support for my riders. I am mom, doctor, director, mechanic, driver, chef, bottle filler, number pinner, boss but most important life long friend. I will keep searching for that perfect partnership to turn LA Sweat into a force to be reckoned with on and off the bike.
Thanks for reading!
AND it's only a matter of weeks before we unveil LA Sweat 2017.