In the dark woods of Instagram, leather-clad babes leave breadcrumbs to find their way to each other. They come in the form of geo and hashtags, and in this case, a handle.
Style originates before you dress — it’s the interests you invest in and the time you take to focus on yourself. We often hear of people either being the type who spends money on experiences or material things, but why not both? Investing in your sense of adventure with a road-trip through California makes that leather jacket look so much better. And this summer, we’re taking some cues from the story and style of Jenny Smith.
More widely known as @BabeParade, Jenny started with a simple Instagram handle for cataloging her journeys. But, she quickly found that it started to take a life of its own. Her documentation of her own experiences started to become less about the single person behind the handle (and handlebars), and more about the people and adventures that were captured. With her recent transition to freelance, she’s finally had some time to focus on harnessing the potential behind what she’s created.
“Tell us about BabeParade. Is it a brand, or is it you?”
All things I’m trying to figure out right now! It kinda just started as a funny name. I was cruising down the street in Vermont at the time, with an actual parade of babes, and it was just obvious: “Babe Parade!”. Then lo and behold instagram comes out and it was perfect. It’s just a band of women who go on adventures together… and whatever that means to whoever that is. It’s not really a “thing”. It started as me having fun, on my own path, trying to document it in any way I could. It’s about experiencing new things with like-minded people.
“We’ve read a lot lately about communities forming in the connective tissue of social platforms. How have you seen Instagram influence what you’ve created?”
Funny story with that, my good friends Ashmore and Anya started Babes Ride Out, which was pretty much the first known all-female ride meetup. The first event was under 100 girls. Super intimate: one campfire, people sleeping illegally in the desert, and riding around. We unintentionally blew it up on social media, and from that event it just kinda caught on with all the women who ride. You start to get to know certain people because you’ve been following them for so long- and then you meet and experience getting to know them on a more intimate level. You meet people with the same interests, rather they ride or not, and it’s really fun.
“What’s your favorite part of the ride through California?”
It’s all about being out there and feeling free, like you’re escaping from daily life. Whether you’re listening to music or just nothing- listening to the wind. Sometimes nothing happens at all, which is also good. I think, for me, as a newer rider, it’s fun to ride with folks who’ve been doing it for a bit, and know the road and know the stops. It’s a collective thing, the fact that I’m even doing it is the best part. Riding through California through the desert and through the mountains, just knowing that I was going to get to my end goal and that I did it by myself is really a cool feeling. My next goal is riding through Big Sur in June.
“How do you communicate while you’re riding together?”
We’re always watching each other, using hand signals, we kinda figure it out together.
On a longer ride there’s usually people who volunteer to be the ride lead. The newer people hang to the back with a few other experienced riders for safety reasons.
“How do you determine who rides with you?”
Anyone can be a part of this crew. I’ve never experienced a time where someone was like ‘you can’t ride with us’. That inclusion is actually how you meet people riding. When you’re riding, people just ride up and join your crew and then when you stop you’re able to talk and get to know each other and realize how many people you actually know in person. Things happen on the road and we help each other. It happened to me when I rode The Dream Roll in Washington. It was the first time I was going for a ride on my own bike and my shifting peg fell off! I didn’t have a tool set, which was stupid, but it’s all a learning experience. Right away I had three girls on my bike and I was like holy shit this is amazing. Everyone is out to help each other and encourage each other in the most positive way… and I always bring a tool set now.
“Is it ever intimidating?”
It can be, but it’s all about practice! As soon as I started practicing and just being around all these amazing women, I saw that if I wanted to do it I could just do it. If you’re interested in riding, you’re probably already hanging out with people who are into it, but you have to be willing to practice to make it work for you. I went to many a parking lots after work just practicing by myself, but then I had to get over the hump of being a terrible test taker. I was practicing on a Harley that was much larger than my bike, but I could ride all day and be fine. When the time came to take the test I kept having panic attacks and had to retake it multiple times. If you want it bad enough you just have to keep doing it- you have to fight the thought that “Oh I failed, I’ll never be a rider”. I fought that thought a lot, and I’m glad I pushed through it because it totally changed my life.
“Women are constantly categorized as either ‘girly’ or ‘tom-boy’, but you embrace both (the website references being “ordained by sparkles”). Tell us more.”
I love all of it. I’ve always liked sequins, and apparently so do the girls I ride with as well. My friend Jenny is even selling sparkle panties on her site. ‘Ordained by sparkles’ is more like a state of mind (or actual sparkles, whatever you’re feeling that day!). It’s a positivity thing. Surround yourself by people who inspire you and make you happy.