Christelle ran a motorcycle shop for five years, where she was repeatedly confronted with sexism. Deemed too fragile for this “men’s profession”, she never gave up and proved to them that being a woman does not mean being less competent.
Firefighter, policewoman, archaeologist or even a works supervisor, are professions that are too rarely heard in women. Fun fact: women also do this type of job and they do it brilliantly! Because nothing should prevent a child from dreaming and doing everything to exercise the profession of his dreams, we have collected inspiring, exciting and edifying testimonies. Proof that: yes, whether you are a girl or a boy you can become whatever you want!
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More and more women are getting their motorcycle license. The figures transmitted in 2019 by the Road Education Center, which coordinates 500 brands across France. According to them, 30% of candidates for a motorcycle license are now women. Proof that two wheels are not just a pleasure for men. Good news for amateurs and professionals, but also for those who run motorcycle shops! This could indeed mark the end of gender stereotypes about women and “bikes”, in an environment where it is still sometimes difficult to gain respect.
When we talk about sexism in the motorcycle, Christelle knows very well what we are talking about. She herself experienced it when she was responsible for a specialist shop for two wheels. A profession considered as a “men’s profession”, in which she had to constantly prove herself in the face of sometimes macho bikers. She tells us.
“It’s too hard for a woman”
Christelle obtained her motorcycle license in the early 2000s, above all for the pleasure of going out with friends. In 2003, wishing to settle down on her own after having worked in real estate, she started looking for franchises with good profitability. “I had several ideas, including a car wash, but the investment was too big for me alone. There were also the funeral directors, but I was not familiar with the trade. I thought about opening a McDonald’s too, but the investment was also too heavy. I finally found the Moto Expert franchise where the investment was right to start on my own and in addition, riding motorcycles, I knew the subject ”, she explains.
She thus embarked on the creation of a Moto Expert franchise near Béthune, in the Pas-de-Calais. And even before opening the doors of her store, she was confronted with sexism. “I had to fight for my bank loans because I was a single woman. Often, I was asked if a man was accompanying me in this project. I was told it was too hard for a woman. I didn’t give up and finally got what I wanted. It took me ambition and determination, it took two years to get started ”, she says.
“We must have a respondent”
In 2005, Christelle was finally able to open her store, also consisting of a workshop to repair motorcycles. From the first days, she understood that she was going to have to win. “Within the franchise itself I had no difficulty. On the other hand, some spare parts suppliers looked down on me at first. In these moments, you have to have a respondent, otherwise you let yourself be walked on ”, she says. Before adding: “With regard to customers, if we stay in the store to sell t-shirts or helmets, everything is going well. But as soon as you get into a more technical field, especially in the workshop, men don’t like talking to women or even letting them ride the bike. I had two mechanics and I always had to impose myself against men, whether in my team, with suppliers or with customers. That I show that I knew what I was talking about. Because for them, a woman did not know how to repair a motorcycle or even sell a motorcycle. While often, I knew more than them. Even in front of some women, who preferred to believe their husbands rather than me, who was a professional. It was still seen too much as a men’s profession at the time. “
During events organized by the store, such as Sunday tours, Christelle also had to prove herself on a motorcycle. “I always had to show that I knew how to ride a motorcycle, whereas for a man, it’s much cooler”, she remembers, “I was often told that the bike was too heavy for a woman, that I couldn’t ride what I wanted. While that has nothing to do with it and above all, I have all my licenses, even the heavy vehicle licenses. “
These remarks mainly lasted the first year. “When they finally understood that I was not incompetent, it calmed down”, she says.
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Running a motorcycle shop is not an easy job. Especially in terms of schedules. “I was open 6 days a week, because I knew that my competitors closed on Mondays and that on Mondays, lots of bikers come to have their motocross repaired if there was a problem during the weekend. We did a lot of numbers on Monday afternoon. On Sundays we were at motorcycle events a lot too so I didn’t really have a day off. It’s very tiring, but it’s a will that you have when you are a boss. I had a desire for success ”, she says.
Being a woman at the head of a store, which she had to close alone in the evening, Christelle was also faced with insecurity. Once, she had to kick a customer out who was harassing her saleswoman. “He followed my saleswoman when she left work, she was afraid. One evening, he came to close and I told him not to bother him anymore. He tried to impress and belittle me by telling me that I was a woman and that I had to stay in the kitchen, that I didn’t have to do a man’s job. He even became threatening when he told me that he was a butcher and that he could kill a man with his bare hands. I did not dismantle and I put him outside “, she explains. His temper has kept him on course. “I have never been afraid. And if I sometimes had to sleep in the store with my dog because there were thefts during the night, I did too ”, she confides.
“It’s a great challenge”
In 2010, Christelle finally stopped this profession and sold her store. “I quit because it was a very demanding job and my children came back to live with me after having been with their father. We wanted to sit down and I also wanted to do something else. In addition, there was the economic crisis of 2009, I felt the tide, I preferred to sell. I sold it very easily, because it was still in the top 5 of the 80 best-selling stores in France ”, she says.
Today, when she says that she worked in this profession, people are always very surprised: “They ask me a lot of questions. They say to me ‘But how did you do it?’. Well, like a man would have done. Like everyone. “
She also has fond memories of this professional experience. “If I had to do it again, I would do it again, because it’s a great challenge. It’s fulfilling when everything is going well. It’s a very lonely environment and it’s nice ”, she explains. Before concluding with a nice message of encouragement for all those who would like to get started: “Do not hesitate and do it, even if you are told that it will be too hard, that it is not a job for a woman, etc. You have to hang on, listen well to those around you, think carefully about your project. If you know what you’re talking about and know what you want to do, you always get there. And when you get there, what happiness. “