The workshop room at United Bicycle Institute on N Williams was packed last Thursday night with 85 people talking about wheelsets, eyeing custom-made bike frames and munching on cupcakes. This "Bike Economics" showcase of Portland women-owned bike businesses was the first event hosted by fledgling bikey women's group Portland Society and it brought out 20 women-owned bikes business (and their friends).

I asked each business owner three quick questions. Here, get to know 'em.

Natalie Ramsland - Sweetpea Bikes
  • Natalie Ramsland - Sweetpea Bikes

What's one thing you've learned while building custom bikes? I've gotten very good at picking metal shavings out of my hands.
What questions do people ask you most? I end up dispelling two myths. One is that the wait list is five years and the other is that a bike will cost like a million dollars. The wait list is only three years and my bikes cost much less than a car.
This is all about women biking. Do you even think about gender stuff on your bike? I never really thought of myself as an athletic woman, but when I was a messenger, I was riding my bike around Portland and all of a sudden I could use my body for something. That's pretty powerful.

Jude Kirstein
  • Jude Kirstein
How long have you been doing this? I was working in a shop and building wheels there, but I opened up my own custom wheel building store Epic Wheel Works last year, in 2009.
Don't most people hate building wheels? You can go postal on a wheel for sure. Your OCD disorders come out. But you get to touch every spoke on it, I like it. Wheels are big but they take sort of a backseat for a lot of people. They don't get the glamor frame building does!

What kind of bike do you ride? I have a Kona hybrid touring bike, my racing tarck and, of course, my tallbike.
What do people rip the most? Crotches, rears and zippers. Yep.

Carye Bye - Red Bat Press
A lot of your letterpressed cards have animals riding bikes. Why do people love animals on bicycles? It was a fluke, really. I found a harmonica with animals on bikes on it and it gave me the idea for bunnies on a bike and all that. I don't know why people like them so much. Maybe because they're unisex? They don't have to wear pants.

Tori Bortman - Gracies Wrench
What's the first thing you teach people in your bike maintenance classes? Learn about your bicycle and it will teach you in return.
Are there any big bike myths you dispel? If they're brave enough to sign up for the class, then they've probably gotten over the biggest myth of all, which is that you can't fix your bike yourself. There's no wrong way to do things on a bike. I just teach people my way.

Teal Smerlinder and Molly McCarthy - Cookie Pedalers
What's this cookie I'm eating called? That's The Dude. It's a White Russian in cookie form.
Have you guys always wanted to be cookie bakers? Teal: I baked my whole life, but I never thought it would be, like, a career. We just started out last December with $500 and a Facebook page.
And then you deliver the cookies by bike? Molly: Yeah, we don't have a fancy trailer or anything, Teal just has a backpack. And we just ride regular crappy bikes. We've got a lot more cookies to bake before we can afford better bikes.