Real entrepreneurial passion means committing to your product. And for one female motorcycle entrepreneur that meant getting tied up and dragged along eight feet of gritty asphalt.
We met Go Go Gear CEO and President Arlene Battishill at the Indianapolis Dealer Expo, where we learned (much to our shock and awe) that the bruised and battered jacket hanging on the end of her display rack wasn’t just the casualty of a nasty spill, it was the jacket worn in the rigorous Go Go Gear product trials – by Battishill herself.
LadyMoto spoke with the entrepreneur-turned-amateur stuntwoman about what it was like being dragged behind a motorcycle, and what we can expect to see next in the series of Hollywood-worthy testing.
LadyMoto: What inspired you, or how did you get the idea to do the testing yourself?
Arlene Battishill: I’d been thinking about how to test the jackets early on. I called the Stuntwoman’s Association and they wanted about $1,500 to have a stuntwoman crash in one of the jackets. But the more I thought about it, I realized I should just do it myself. I’m 50 years old and no spring chicken, so this wasn’t high on my list of things to do in life – BUT I felt that if I was going to be producing safety gear, I’d better know for sure it works.
LM: Have you had any stunt experience?
AB: Stunt experience! Are you kidding? I have experience with getting manicures and pedicures, not doing stunts!
LM: Who did you talk into tying you up and dragging you down the street?
AB: The test was kind of a fluke. I was out at the California Scooter Company in Laverne, CA, test-driving some of their bikes, and I asked the owner Steve Seidner if he was willing to help me test the jacket. He said, “Ok, sure!” — having NO idea what I actually had in mind. It happened so fast I don’t think he really even had time to think about it. I told him to go grab a tow rope and that I wanted him to drag me down the street in my jacket.
It was a completely surreal experience. I was lying there on my back, being dragged along the pavement and looking up at the sky wondering what on earth I was doing. The test would have gone longer, but at about 80 feet I started to smell something “burning”. It wasn’t actually burning – the fabric was just heating up from the abrasion, but when I smelled it I let go just in case I was on fire! No fire at all, just abrasion. I was actually sort of disappointed! Just kidding!
The first layer of fabric is the one that took the brunt of the damage. The REAL abrasion resistant fabric inside the jacket wasn’t damaged at all.
LM: How have people generally responded to the test jacket when they see it?
AB: Most people can’t believe that I tested it myself. More than anything, their response is, “Wow, you really stand behind your product!” I think that having someone else do the test would have created a perception of “distance” between my product and me.
LM: You mentioned when we first met that your next test will be done with an airplane. When and where will that be?
AB: I talked with Steve Seidner at California Scooter Company about doing the airplane stunt. He knows someone who has a small airplane and they’re located right on an airfield. We just have to figure out how to get the airfield to cooperate and let us do it on the runway for free.
LM: Will you be videoing the next demo for YouTube?
Yes, definitely. I’m so bummed that our videotape ran out just as we started the drag test, so we HAVE to have new footage of a test. I’m also preparing my own crash test dummy that I’m going to throw out of a car at a high speed to again test the jacket, so we’ll get that on tape for sure. I have video of me throwing myself down a 50-foot hill in the jacket, but a lot of people have been critical of that footage because I didn’t throw myself off a motorcycle to test the armor. Easy for everyone else to say when they’re not the ones doing it! Sofa warriors!
And of course, if we can actually pull off the airplane stunt, you bet we’ll get that on videotape.
Check for updates on the Go Go Gear line and testing stunts on her blog, http://scooter-girls.com/wp/