WHY I: ANNA GLOWINSKI
Anna Glowinski is one of those women who has turned her back on following what is expected, what is convention, and pursued her passions and ambitions with an open heart and mind, and a voracious appetite. Known for her life on two wheels, Anna is an enduro (mountain bike) racer, has presented the ITV Cycle Show, is a former team rider for women’s cycling team the Mule Bar Girls, winner of the RedBull Minidrome, and entrepreneur and founder of Anna’s Legs, a women’s specific cycling apparel brand.
Anna has inspired me since when we first met 7 or so years ago, and I was eager to pin her down for a chat about her life on the bike, starting her own business and more. Settle down for a WHY I read with the awesome Anna Glowinski, an all-round ardent champion of women leading active and creative lives.
Hailing from Croydon, South London, a place not perhaps known for being synonymous with the outdoors, Anna nevertheless had an active upbringing, thanks to her parents taking her “out into the mud, leaves, forests and pebbles in whatever weather, from a very young age.” I was struck immedietley from when I first met Anna many years ago, of how contagiously inspiring her honest, real, and no bullsh*t approach to her desire to pursue and live and work for what she enjoys, and loves is. A presenter on Sky Digital’s the Bike Channel, Anna has been a familiar and friendly face in the world of wheels for some time now. From co-presenting ITV’s the Cycle Show, racing for the Mule Bar Girls women’s team, founding her first business, AnaNichoola, and now her new business, women’s specific cycling apparel brand Anna’s Legs, and taking in a podium or two including the RedBull Minidrome in London’s Eastend, Anna’s energy for her passions is pretty mind-boggling.
Now residing in the sunny shores of Spain, a place Anna clearly relishes for it’s incredible array of mountain bike and road trails, access to surf, and perhaps, a more quiet peaceful freedom from the hectic city life, though she admits she is “kind-of a city girl at heart, with a deep need for outdoorsy hobbies, a bit of a weird mix.”
Anna can’t remember a life “without riding”. With her father's love of bikes, from 5 years old Anna was introduced to the world of wheels, with cyclo-cross racing dominating the winters, and road cycling in the summers. Racing competatively as a child, as with most of us, the distractions of teenage life, and other sports led her to lose interest. Later on, in her earlier twenties, picking up a mountain bike, Anna attests that
"It… changed my life, because now I am always pursuing a life in the mountains as much as I possibly can.”
Following her adventures on her social channels, it isn’t hard to be drawn into what is clearly is such an honest, and huge passion for a life of wheels outside. Anna also rides road bikes, BMX, and actively practices and pushes, developing her skillset and capabilties as a rider. Dipping her toe into many realms of riding, Anna suggests that her problem is that she “loves everything”. Personally, I see her activism in wanting to experience, learn, and try different facets of life and adventure as incredibly inspiring. She admits that “I wouldn’t swap the excitement of it all for the hum drum of pure focus on one thing and becoming an expert, it just doesn’t suit my nature.”
With her new business, women’s apparel brand Anna’s Legs, Anna has clearly identified a gaping gap in the market for women looking for performance led cycling product that 1) performs and 2) doesn’t look diabolical, which, for those of us looking for something slightly more style-led when out on our bikes, it typically has.
“I am just so damn proud of the product. I actually believe that the waistband of my leggings is the best on the market, and the fit and feel is designed with so many body shapes in mind. They are comfortable for hours in the saddle and have so many tiny little features that make them a pleasure to ride in. The prints are personal and fun too. I have just really enjoyed every aspect of the design process, there has been no pressure, no hurry, and I have had the time to develop products that I am proud of.”
Although Anna suggests she doesn’t “see myself as an entrepreneur”, I would argue otherwise.
“I just want to make a living from doing the things I love and am passionate about. Sometimes I make money, sometimes I don’t. But my work is all my own, my successes and my mistakes, and I feel such a sense of freedom from being in control of my whole life.”
This freedom is something many of us aspire too. We can often find ourselves somewhat flummoxed or discontent, maybe plateauing in a role where we perhaps aren’t doing quite what we want to, incorporating enough of our actual passions, or having enough freedom as we want. Anna is a beacon to me of being tenacious in this respect, and equally, in that what you have always loved, from being a child, can actually lead to a professional rewarding and fulfilling working life if you do seek or create business opportunities around your passions. I wonder what advice Anna would have for other budding entrepreneurs? “Keep all your receipts, don’t use a Google Docs template for your invoices without saving them each time. Do believe you know everything, you don’t, but that belief will make you take the risks you need to take in order to push things to the next level…
“My advice would be to follow your heart. If you want to do something, whether it is from a business point of view, or simply a desire to travel or do something new, you should do it. There is literally no reason why not to. On my journey I have met so many people who have taken a plunge and every single time it has worked out. Even if it hasn’t financially! (Haha). Everyone who wants to do something and then goes and does it succeeds, because they are in control of their own life.”
As someone who also is foraging to live a life in the genuine persuit and existence of what I a creatively, professionally and emotively stimulated by, I can relate to this. I think finding something that quite simply, excited you, stirs your soul and stimulates your mind can often be a great starting point, Anna adding that:
“I get so excited when I meet new people with new stories to tell, or people I follow on Instagram who are living life in a cool way, or making amazing things, or riding really well. I just want to experience as much as I can, whenever I see or hear something cool I want to have a go at it myself. I see people everywhere running their own businesses and I guess I see them and want to have a piece of it myself too.”
Amen to that.
Check out Anna's Legs, Anna Glowinski's range of cycling apparel for women available to buy in the link below.
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