Laura Smith, Co-Founder and Designer

Laura Smith
Co-Founder, Worse for Wear

I learned to ride a motorcycle in 1997. My ex would pick me up from work on the back of his BMW R65 and we’d go for a ride. Eventually, I grew tired of being a passenger and wanted a bike of my own.

After searching around town for a few weeks, I found the perfect rat bike parked on the front lawn of a ramshackle house down the street from my apartment – a rusty black ‘82 Suzuki GS450L. It had just over 30,000 miles on it, gummed-up carbs, and a huge rust hole in the bottom of one of its trumpet-shaped tailpipes. But it was only $300, so it was perfect. I paid cash for it and I started learning to ride that weekend.

I rode that bike everywhere – to work, shopping, day trips, and weekend jaunts in the southern Ohio countryside. I even spent the winter cleaning it up before riding season began again – sneaking it up to my 6th floor apartment via the elevator and parking it in the living room over the winter. I took it apart and cleaned it piece by piece in the kitchen. The cats were afraid of the bike at first, but soon began to treat it like any other piece of furniture. I’d come home from work and catch them napping on the seat or draped luxuriously across the handlebars.

I taught plenty of friends to ride on that Suzuki, including some of my best girlfriends. There weren’t many women riding in Cincinnati at the time, so I took it upon myself to help grow the community.

20 years later and my passion for the women’s motorcycling community is stronger than ever. Creating a business that caters to our underserved demographic in this sport is something I felt I had to do. And with my background in sewing and design, building our own factory from the ground up to manufacture women’s motorcycle in Richmond, Virginia seemed like a logical next step. I was getting too much sleep at night, anyway.

5 thoughts on “Laura Smith, Co-Founder and Designer

  1. […] Enter Laura Smith, cofounder of Worse for Wear. A few months ago, I had the privilege of interviewing Laura on my blog, so you may have heard her story already, but if not, here’s the short version: Laura saw a gap in the market for women’s motorcycle jeans that fit well, look good and protect your butt. So, along with her husband-slash-business partner, Laura set to work building a company that makes quality, locally made motorcycle-approved denim. […]

  2. Boy – Small world! I remember being envious of that 450T when I was riding my 450L. I used to tell people the ‘L’ in my first bike stood for ‘Ladies Edition’.

  3. Similar story. I learned to ride on a Yamaha 250 which was quickly traded for a Suzuki 450T. She also spent her OH winters parked in the dining area of our apartment. Fun With Wheels provided me with several Suzukis over the years, which were swapped out for a BMW R1150 GS. Age and arthritis have caught up to me so I spend my saddle time on a Can-Am Spyder RT

  4. Hi Stuart! Right now we’re in the process of getting the shop together, but we’d love to have you and your girlfriend come by for a visit once we’re further along. We’ll be in production by Spring 2016, and plan to have a Shop-warming party so that folks can come by and see what we’re up to. Scott and I both ride BMWs right now, so maybe we’ll meet at the next RBMWR meeting at Babes in January?

  5. I am Stuart Ostroff, riding motorcycles for 48 years, year-round and long-distance.

    Currently President of Richmond BMW Riders (altho not riding BMWs anymore)
    Premier member of Iron Butt Assoc.

    Very interested in your venture. I’ve been an ardent Aerostich customer for 12 years, have 2 Roadcrafter one-piece suits and many related items. Been to the factory in Duluth a few times.

    I’d like to visit your facility, along with my girlfriend – she needs some stuff and we’d like to support local enterprise.

    Stuart Ostroff

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