Women in Cycling: Jeyda Heselton of Fettle

Getting to Know Jeyda Heselton

Founded by Jeyda Heselton in 2019 with the goal of making bicycle servicing simple and faff-free, Fettle enables cyclists in London to book their bikes in via their app and select from dropping off their bike or having it collected.

With five workshops across London and a team of 25 full-time mechanics, Jeyda and Fettle are hurtling towards their goal of expanding to 90 workshops across the UK.

Read more about Jeyda’s journey, goals, and what it’s like being a woman in a male-dominated industry below.

Can you give us some background on yourself?

I’m a 30 year old woman, based in London (UK). I started out doing a law degree but decided to move away from that and pursue a career in the growing tech startup scene.

Most notably, spent a few years as a product manager at JustPark, focusing on building great customer journeys. I'm a big believer in the humble bike and transforming the way that we travel.

Who or what inspired you to take the leap and start Fettle?

Whilst working with my chairman Oren Peleg at JustPark (a business that enables anyone with spare parking spaces to let them out and drivers to book them) we were working on our mobility strategy.

We had a vast network of parking spaces that we knew could be diversified beyond being used for cars. As part of that, we recognised that growth in cycling was a fundamental part of the UK’s strategy to more sustainable travel but from personal experience recognised that the experience cyclists face is really outdated.

We believed that the service element could be done and we could use the spaces we had access to through JustPark to provide bike repair in convenient city center locations. Since then, the business has evolved a lot, but that was where it all started.

A lot of your past work has been within the sphere of sustainable transport. How does your commitment to sustainability come through in the work Fettle does?

Typically bike shops dedicate a lot of shop floor space to retail whereas we’ve purposefully chosen to focus entirely on servicing.

I love the idea of us starting to return to a world where looking after things and making them last a long time is important. I’m also coming at this from the angle of wanting the bike to become a more widely used form of transport for short journeys.

We’ve positioned ourselves in such a way that we appeal to all types of riders and therefore I like to think that we’re helping our customers to travel in a way that is cheap, quick, and great for the environment.

What types of bicycle repairs do you see most often?

The majority of the jobs coming through our workshops are services or punctures!

Often people come in not knowing what the problem is and if they’re riding regularly and haven’t had it serviced in a while, chances are that the brake pads will need replacing, the chain may just need lubricating or replacing if it’s too stretched, the gears are often skipping and the tyres are in need of some air.

As for punctures, we always recommend people to switch to puncture-resistant tyres. It’ll mean less visits to our shop but much better for the rider!

How can specialist bicycle insurance benefit cyclists like your customers if something unforeseen happens to their bikes?

This is just one of those things that I think you should just factor into the purchasing of a bike.

Overall, a bike, regular servicing, some accessories (like a lock), and insurance is still far cheaper than driving or taking public transport.

Bicycle insurance means you’re nowhere near as worried if you have to lock your bike up somewhere you don’t know, if you’re involved in an accident you can quickly get it sorted or onto a new bike and if someone is injured, you’re covered for what could otherwise be quite a stressful and expensive experience.

What’s your experience of being a woman in a male-dominated industry? Are there any particular challenges you’ve had to overcome?

I’m quite used to it now, having previously been in the parking industry! However, I’ve tried to surround myself with great women, both in the business and also mentor figures.

Over the years I’ve definitely struggled with imposter syndrome which I think is universal but I’ve certainly noticed plenty of other talented women in the same boat.

Like working in any industry, I think the biggest trick is just trying to be mindful of not just what is being said but what each person in the room is thinking/feeling and how their different interests intertwine.

What do you think is the biggest factor that’s enabled Fettle to get where it is today?

The people! We’re an incredibly people-reliant business and wouldn’t be anywhere without the skilled team and many people helping, advising, and supporting us along the way.

What do you think the cycling world can do to support and welcome more women into the sport and related industries?

Put more money behind sportswomen as seeing inspirational athletes always has an amazing trickle-down effect.

Share more content about women cycling and getting involved in similar industries and put on events, workshops, rides, etc. particularly encouraging women. I think there’s been great progress and I think it’ll be amazing to look back at this period in a few years' time.

What advice would you give to female leaders in male-dominated professions?

Have confidence in your right to be there and take all the learning opportunities that come your way.

Where do you see yourself and Fettle in the next 5 - 10 years? Any big plans or goals you can share?

We’re trying to grow a national network of workshops so I’d love to see Fettle being spread across the UK, supporting a growing contingent of cyclists.

I’d also love for Fettle to continue developing technology that makes the process of bike repair as faff-free as possible. And I’d love for us to be training mechanics in-house and providing meaningful job opportunities.

Bonus question! You have an awesome side-hustle taking photos of doors and knockers (IG: @knockinondoors). Can you tell us more about it?

Absolutely! I started taking photos of doors whilst out on walks as something to focus on when I was having a bit of a tough time a few years ago.

I thought it was a bit of a weird thing I was quite into but I started posting them online and turns out I wasn’t alone. There are thousands of people out there who share my admiration for a great door and a cracking knocker.

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