Tuesday 27th November 2018
It's constantly growing. It's becoming in your face and society is finally starting to see it as the norm alongside men's sport. We're obviously talking about women's sport. There's no denying that in sport such as football and rugby, the men's teams attract more of the media coverage but with the success and the inevitable hype that follows, people are starting to be drawn to our fabulous female athletes a lot more. Across British sport, you will be able to find a wide variety of world champions, our female track cyclists are the envy of the world. Avid sport followers will tell you that the success has always been there and that it's the barriers of TV coverage, funding and ultimately public support which has been the hurdles to get over. Well Flaming Pink have come along to push along the movement further along by offering a selection of sports clothing specifically for women. We caught up with founder Rachel Barnes to learn about the story behind FP and where she sees the brand going in the future...
Hi Rachel. Thanks for taking the time out to have a chat with us. Love the site, love the name, must ask, was Flaming Pink thought of after many flaming sambucas?!!!
Haha, I wish!! The concept is derived from my love and passion for sport combined with realisation that for some women, starting out in sport and exercise, there isn’t the support or advice that they might need in order to get started. I came to this conclusion when talking with a friend/mum. She had been competing in a variety of distance runs from 10k to marathons and she had decided to give a triathlon a ‘go’. Her issue however, was that she had no idea where to start.
Previously I have competed in both rowing and triathlon to a high level. I was trialling with the aim to get into the Great Britain squad for rowing but following an accident, switched to triathlon where ultimately, I ended up winning the European Long Distance Championships (Age Group) in Finland, for Great Britain.
Knowing my past, she asked me lots of questions about the events, the clothing, the equipment, the distances involved, it goes on…We subsequently entered a local triathlon and when we went to purchase some kit (from a well-known sports re-seller) also then realised it was a nightmare trying to find the right size, brand, type of kit to wear, length of shorts etc, and then I thought maybe there is something in this.
So, after researching what was out there, noticed that there was very little support, advice, sizing and good quality kit all in one place for women. So Flaming Pink was born.
However Flaming Pink could have been many other names. I wanted something that reflected both its specialism for women but also strong competitive women. So after playing with names such as Warrior Women, Pink Obsession, Women’s Wear, and more terrible names, I came up with Flaming Pink and I loved it – so it stuck!
So you’ve come from a rowing background into triathlon/cycling, we won’t dive into your boating accident (unless you want to?) but was the transition from boat to the multi discipline sport an easy one to make or a shock to the physical requirements needed to compete with our triathletes?
It’s fine – I was training towards trialling for the Great Britain rowing team. We would train in single sculling boats and double scull boats (one and 2 people boats – with two oars each). One morning while out training in my single scull, a barge pulled of the bank and hit me side-on, they came from no-where and were on the wrong side of the river. Subsequently I suffered from severe rib injuries and I was out of any competition and serious training for months. My double scull partner at the time was Nikki Bartlett (who has since gone on to become a pro-triathlete).
As part of the rehab, I trained on a static bike….for hours, and as such Nikki also trained with me. We got to the stage where we were doing so much training on the bike that we thought we would enter a triathlon. On reflection now, the decision to enter an Ironman at that time seems silly, but back then it seemed perfectly natural! If I am honest I had no idea what to expect, I just entered it. When I started training the realisation set in, however with the rowing training, which is extremely tough, I found the transition relatively easy as I already had the endurance. It was more the technique across the disciplines that I struggled with. The running was a case of building up the mileage.
With the swimming, I had to learn front crawl in the open water – that was a whole new experience! My first actual triathlon was the Cotswold Middle Distance which I thoroughly enjoyed, and it’s still one of my fondest memories. After doing reasonable well, I fell in love with the sport and threw myself into it. I loved the training, the discipline required and the culture within the sport – everyone I met seemed so passionate and friendly and I couldn’t get enough.
Do you miss rowing and is it somewhere you hope to take the brand into?
I miss the team spirit, the comradery and the competition - however not so much the brutal Winter water training. I made so many friends from the sport and the community that surrounds it is amazing. I absolutely want to take my brand into Rowing, and also Hockey, Rugby, Lacrosse and all those slightly alternative sports to the mainstream, but act as a single shop for all sports. I have many friends who cross over into different sports and use the same or similar clothing /kit, such as compression tights. Its therefore definitely something I want to explore.
Did you find it hard getting brands on board or do you feel there is a real boom in women’s sport?
I was geared up and ready to sell my concept to the major brands, and if I am honest most of them have been really supportive. They do feel women’s uptake across the sports is going up, and what we are finding is that especially women/mums in their mid 30’s-40’s is especially hardcore. They are getting to a stage in their life where the kids are at school, they maybe have slightly more time on their hands, but they are the ones out in the Winter - river swimming and entering Ironman and being superb role models. This is one area I really want to support and help get women into something they may never have thought possible. Go ladies!!
In your eyes, what’s the next step forward for women’s sport? TV coverage? Equal prize money?
Absolutely. I think more support in getting women active, more TV coverage for the Professionals, and more coverage of alternative sports such as hockey, rugby, football, open water swimming can only be a good thing.
Equal prize money should be a given, I still don’t understand why this is the case. It is really hard for the younger talented girls to get anywhere if they don’t have the financial backing, so if they are entering races and winning they should be rewarded the same as their male counterpart. I did get asked once if I thought Ironman should be changed to Ironlady, but I think - no. Ironman is the brand and you race and compete for the Ironman status, I love the brand and what it represents.
What’s your favourite piece of kit you own or always look forward to wearing?
I love my 2XU MCS Running Compression tights. I wear them all the time, running, cycling, gym. They are so comfortable and give you this internal added support across the major muscles. A total must. I also love my HUUB quilted jacket, this is more casual, but I do wear it for walking the dogs, getting transition kit ready and generally anywhere.
You’ve competed at European and World level which must have been an amazing experience, if you were to reach that level again or had a chance to revisit those moments, would there be anything you would of done differently knowing what you know now about competing?
Looking back I think my training would have been more calculated. Given my route for getting into the sport, my training was more ‘get stuck in’ than a formal strategy across the three disciplines. I just threw volume at the training, hours on the bike, in the water, on the road. Not really focussing too much on the individual technique, but more on getting my body used to the stress placed upon it.
Now knowing what I know, I think whilst the volume certainly helped and was critical to me achieving success, I think that had I had better individual focus on technique, I would have had a more efficient pathway. From a competition perspective, the Ironman was 3 weeks prior to the Europeans and I certainly felt it! I would definitely aim to have more rest and recovery training in between events.
Final question, will Flaming Pink have a brother, maybe called Freezing Blue?!
I hope so – depending on how Flaming Pink goes. For now, my focus is on supporting women and providing access to sound advice and clothing/equipment. If it all goes well, who knows – you might see a ‘burning blue’ being unleashed!
Thanks again for your time and we wish you all the best with the website.
Thank you. It means a lot to me and I really appreciate it.