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Powell's path to owning Endless Bike Co. a twisty, fulfilling journey

Published March 21, 2023

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (BRAIN) — Shanna Powell says her path to becoming a successful entrepreneur in the bike industry is a "roundabout, twisty, weird one."

Powell, who took over Endless Bike Co. from a friend in 2008, kept the books at Youngblood Bicycles and Industry 9 in the Asheville area and also once owned a coffee roastery for nine years. In addition to running Endless now, which manufactures cogs and chainrings, she's also a full-time mountain bike instructor.

"I know how to keep it all together. I know how to hustle," she said. "Between the two of them, it enables me to have enough money to survive."

Powell said it's easier now for a woman to enter the industry and flourish than when she paved her way to Endless.

"I think people are starting to see that women can do things just as well as men," she said. "This is still a majority male-dominated industry. But it's nice to see more women. i9 has more women now than they ever have, which is awesome. But you have to have thick skin to be a woman in the bike industry. And you have to be willing to advocate for yourself and not give up, just because you feel you haven't been heard."

That kind of resiliency came in handy for Powell after buying Endless Bicycle Co. for $1 — but also inheriting an $8,500 debt to Turnamics Inc., Industry Nine's machine shop that manufactures Endless cogs and rings in a variety of splashy anodized colors that i9 is known for. Endless has carried rings since 2015 with direct-mount for SRAM and Race Face. Narrow-wide options also are available.

She said it took five years to pay off the debt, and it led to her working as the Industry Nine bookkeeper afterward. She said owner Clint Spiegel was impressed with her diligence and honesty.

"He said, 'Wow, you paid off that debt? Do you want to come work for me?'"

Powell, also an Industry Nine ambassador, said her business has been slowing after thriving the past few years with the current cost of aluminum particularly worrisome. "The cost of aluminum is absolutely insane right now, which makes it really hard for a small business such as myself," she said.

That's especially true because Endless sells 23-, 24- and 25-tooth cogs. While there's not a huge demand for those sizes, Powell knows her products have a loyal following among single-speeders who depend on Endless' products.

"I'm trying to be patient and ride it out and see what will happen. I've been sitting on this order for a couple of weeks. Like how badly do I need these parts? Can we do without a 24-tooth cog for a little while until the prices fall? I'm still struggling with this decision."

Primarily direct-to-consumer, Endless is available in a few shops across the country and through BTI. "I've been with BTI the whole time, which is great," Powell said. "They've actually kept me going, especially in the beginning when sales through BTI were the majority of my business. It helps shops find me if they want a different color."

And dedicated single-speeders tend to find Endless.

"I'm fortunate because I think my products have a cult following," Powell said. "There are some single-speeders who will buy my products because they're my products, and I appreciate them so much. Single-speeders are more loyalists, I think, because the community is smaller and many of the riders have met me personally."

Shanna Powell.

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