Since we opened the doors at Metier, people have asked why I decided on the name “Metier Racing and Coffee” for the shop. I’ve told the story dozens of times over the years and I’m sure that the facts mostly line up with each telling, but since we’re launching a new site - our 5th version since it all started back in 2006 - I’ll give you the best version of the story,
I moved to Seattle from NYC in Dec. 2005 and rode my last season as a domestic professional cyclist in 2006 on the Colavita/Sutter Home Pro Cycling Team. In October of that year I started “HSP,” Herriott Sports Performance LLC, which is still the legal name of this company. I had been doing personal training, coaching, and physio testing in NYC since 1997, and the plan post full-time racing was always to open up a small business somewhere that offered those same services, including bike fitting. And that’s what I did. However, had you told me back then that it would be in Seattle, I would have not believed you. How did I end up in Seattle? A woman. It's as simple as that.
In Nov. 2006 I moved into a shared office space on Western Avenue in downtown Seattle that was also occupied by the Institute of New Medicine aka, INEWMED. This group was on the cutting edge of using Eastern medicine to address the health needs of high performance athletes and anyone else that was interested. I had been referred to INEWMED by Dave Jordan, whom I had met back in NYC and had become close friends. Dave and I shared a real love of coaching and training and he was one of the most gifted bike riders and coaches that I had ever met. Sadly he passed away a few years back, before his genius was ever truly realized by the cycling world. There’s a lot more to that chapter and someday I need to dive a little deeper into it.
Fast forward. For almost two years I worked 24/7 to carve out a niche for myself in the local cycling scene and of course I wanted to move into a bigger space, bring in a few more coaches and expand the HSP offerings. That took me over to Nickerson St at the base of Queen Anne, where I spent 5 years. It was during that time that the bike shop piece of the business came into being. We called it “The PRO Shop”. Looking back, that was probably not the right name but that was our entry into the world of bicycle retail..
It's easy to love riding awesome bikes and wearing sweet kits but it’s an entirely different animal to provide that to the general public. It took some time and a lot of mistakes to get our wheels turning but we carved out a piece of the local bike shop pie and focused our efforts on premium performance bikes, coaching and bike fitting -- and, we even had a gym space for group classes. There was a racing team, lots of testosterone and some hit and miss business practices. “Growing pains” would be a nice way to describe those times. In an attempt to heighten the customer experience I bought an espresso machine and started offering complimentary espresso. But that wasn’t enough, I needed to offer a full coffee shop experience! Of course I had a friend and client who thought my idea of having a coffee shop/bar/ training space/ bike shop was a good one. He of course had a building he was trying to lease that would be the perfect spot for such a business. Fast forward to signing a lease at 1017 East Union St. There’s more to that part of the story too but the headline is I wanted to move, rebrand and grow out of the bro bro shop with the cool guy racing team. It was a massive physical, mental and financial challenge to move from 5000 sq feet with 5 people into 12,500 sq ft with 19 people (we were that big when we opened on CapHill). But I am SO glad we did.
Metier Racing and Coffee. We hired an agency, right here in Capitol Hill, called Creature, to help rebrand HSP. The process of creating a brand deck and all of the included assets was a very involved learning experience. At one point there were 10 or so names in the mix but Metier just made sense. What’s a good name for a bike shop that has a cafe, bar, training gym and cycling club? Metier of course! A French word meaning an area of activity in which one excels, aka one’s calling (at least that is how we describe it). This thing was my calling. I knew that people would have a hard time pronouncing it and would mostly have no idea what it meant. And then there's the Racing and Coffee piece.
Racing. I fell in love with bike racing in the early 80’s. Watching the 30 minute Tour de France broadcasts on NBC with John Tesh breaking it all down blew my mind. I had never seen a bike race in person but I had to be a part of it. I grew up in Omaha, Ne. and the cycling scene in those days was…. Hard to find. But I found it and I became a part of it. From my local racing days in the Midwest to having the opportunity to ride the biggest events in the US and the 100’s of amazing experiences and people that have enriched my life, racing has been and still is a part of my evolution. And as much as l loved the actual racing, it was the process of preparation, the training that really inspired and motivated me. I knew that in some way, shape or form, I would someday work with others to support their goals on the bike. I went from pinning the number to being a very experienced spectator and super fan. To this day I watch racing on TV and on the laptop as often as I can, it’s as exciting to me as it's ever been and It’s still very much a part of my lifestyle- maybe more than ever, it’s just not the only part like it had been for so many years.
Coffee is so many things. It’s complex, it’s fragrant and it’s energizing. It has marked the beginning of my days for decades. Pre ride, post ride and many times during the ride, coffee has always been there. Meeting with friends, teammates, colleagues and clients over a cup of coffee has been a standard in my adult life, how could it not factor into the name of the shop?
And the picture? That was taken in 2005 in NYC on the upper West Side just outside of Central Park by Chris Miliman- check out his work. I’m sitting with my teammate and roommate, Davide Frattini, who opened my eyes to a new level of coffee drinking that I had not yet experienced, stove top espresso. WOW.
Racing and Coffee, there you have it.
Thanks for reading -