Anna Glowinski is the power house behind the stylish and functional AnaNichoola women’s cycle clothing company, one of the faces of ITV’s "The Cycle Show" and a rider with Team MuleBar Girl-Sigma Sport.
After spotting a gap in the market for performance wear that also looked good, Anna began designing and producing her own range for road, mountain bike and urban riders. Since then, things have gone from strength to strength.
I got into cycling through my family. They’ve been taking me to races since I was 5-years-old – so I was racing cyclo-cross when I was 5, then doing road and track racing from when I was about 9. It was just a sport we did as a family growing up.
My dad cycled, as did my brother and I. My mum took us to the races, and she only started riding when she was 38 – she’d never ridden a bike before in her life! She got into it too and now she’s the most obsessed out of anybody.
I can’t imagine cycling without racing.
Racing has never been a hugely big deal for me; its just been the fun part of cycling. I think it’s just the way I was brought up. We’d go as a family, on a Sunday, and we’d rock up at a muddy cyclo-cross event, race, and then come home tired, wet and muddy.
I’m really competitive, but I don’t feel I should win, especially if I don’t deserve to.
I’m not just going to go to the Team GB track, race and expect to win!
There are girls training really hard out there, and I don’t expect myself to turn up and come and win something that I haven’t put any effort into. I will have certain personal targets or people that I think that I should be close to and beat, and that’s where my competitive side will come in.
I like anything that tests my mind. If it’s scary and I have to work out how to do something, I find that a lot more enjoyable that things that just test my body.
I think I’ve worked out two camps of people in cycling. Some people cycle because they just switch off – say they are doing a long road ride, they can just ride and switch off.
But I don’t want to be lost with my thoughts – I want something that forces me away from my thoughts, that just takes me to that moment, where I’m so focused on getting over one jump or something, that nothings else exists. I think that’s quite healthy for me. That’s the other camp of cyclist.
I think I like cycling because I’m good at it, I’m comfortable doing it. I’m not the best in the world, but it feels so natural because I did it as a kid. It’s what I know the best and have always done.
I have quite a few bikes – I think 8, but only a few of them are working! My favourite is my BMX at the moment. I’m really lucky ‘cos I’m sponsored by Mongoose, so I’ve got a BMX, a downhill bike, a mountain bike, a jump bike that I use quite a lot, and I’ve also got a fixie that I use for events like the Red Bull Mini Drome (the worlds smallest velodrome).
I’ve got a singlespeed bike covered in fabric that I use around town, a Dutch bike with plastic flowers all over it – but the hubs broken on that at the moment. A track bike too.
Ana Nichoola started without a plan. I was coaching cycling in my summer holidays when I was in uni, hand-making some bits and pieces, and it sort of grew from there.
It’s a female specific cycle clothing brand for all disciplines of cycling. I think that comes from my experience in having tried the different disciplines, and knowing that each requires different functions. There are different style trends within each of them as well.
I’m trying to find really cool, stylish and functional solutions to women’s cycle clothing.
I went full-time 3 years ago and since then it’s been the plan, because I felt there was a gap in the market. I don’t think there are many brands focusing on female clothes as a starting point. They’ll do men’s clothes, then they’ll do an offshoot of women’s stuff. You don’t get that in any other clothes industry.
The other thing with cycling is you use a bike so often to get from A to B. It’s really the only sport where you do that. It’s unique. So you need clothing that has the performance values of sportswear, but when you turn up somewhere you need to look a certain way. I think that’s really not been explored for women at all.
The reaction to the brand has been really good. It’s allowed me to go full time, and business is growing. I sold out of stock this year, which is fantastic.
I don’t really know where my ideas for products come from; it’s probably a culmination of always looking at what’s going on in cycling. I’m always, always researching. I speak to the factories, I see what fabrics they’ve got, what technologies are on offer, and then I get stuff tested and I’ll get feedback.
I get really good reviews when I send products off for testing, which is good, but I think there’s always room for improvement. For example we’re going to have printed labels in the back of the necks now rather than the traditional flappy fabric label; it’s a small detail but it’s an improvement.
A lot of my market is actually older women, which was a bit of a surprise. In terms of the different ranges – mountain biking, road and the café style which is more casual - they all sell about equally. That can be frustrating as I don’t really know where to focus, but it is interesting. It goes to show that all of those markets may be untapped.
I want AnaNichoola to be massive. I want it to be like surf-brand Roxy.
Anna has a special treat for Total Women's Cycling readers - a discount of 20% on the Cafe Jersey Dress! Just enter the code twc2013 at the checkout - and enjoy! Also popular are the Star Tighter, Winter Star Jersey and Winter Star Tights. Check your local Ana Nichoola stockist for more info.