Where flexible working works - Jobs for mums

Karen Wood

Director at STRIDER® Bike UK & Ireland

Karen Wood started selling Strider bikes from her house back in 2010, as a stay at home mum with a toddler in one hand and a website coding book in the other with a £120 start-up fund. She spotted the bikes in the USA on holiday, quit a corporate business development role she had stumbled into but got no enjoyment from and started off becoming a home-based dealer.

Despite stiff competition within the cycling industry, she grew the business to become the UK’s largest Strider dealer and in 2014 was offered exclusive distribution by the American manufacturers. Strider are now the industry leader and largest manufacturer of children's balance bikes, with over 1.7 million bikes sold worldwide.

Karen dodged university by going on a gap year backpacking. “I simply knew I wanted to travel and had no idea what do study. I had a ball and landed jobs as a scuba instructor on the Great Barrier Reef to cleaning a Tibetan monastery.” This then led to 10 years of wanderlust and she has driven through over 100 countries. As an expedition leader driving trucks full of people on their epic world tours through S. America and Africa, Karen was more at home fixing engines in jungles, out running tribal outlaws on horses and even getting shot at, than the world of retail.

She has designed a calendar of high profile events for Strider Riders, as young as 18 months, to inspire them to love the great outdoors and bike riding. From sharing podiums at the UK’s top sporting events such as the Tour of Britain, to setting up Adventure obstacle courses at bike shows, Karen’s aim is to encourage children to participate in a safe fun environment whilst riding, racing and pushing boundaries.

Taking the bold stance to retail through small independent retailers, instructors and venues that put children onto bikes, Strider Bikes are sold through passionate experts allowing Karen to support other family run businesses and small businesses. “If our trade customers can encourage children to ride a bike then they benefit from good margins and parents benefit from great customer service. It’s a win for all involved. Strider customers become friends”.

Mum to two children, Karen is married and in 2015 employed her husband.

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