JESSICA PROKUP is something of a local hero to new motorcyclists looking for riding gear. Her shop, Yellow Devil Gear Exchange, is a consignment-based riding gear retail space in a hip section of Long Beach, Calif. Besides giving riders a place to buy and sell used, but carefully vetted, riding gear, Jessica gives new riders a friendly, welcoming entry into the sport.
Jessica’s inspiration came while running the Women’s Studio at the International Motorcycle Shows in 2008 and 2009. “I had surveyed the experiences of women and new riders at dealerships,” she explained. “Dealers are the front line, but they often aren’t prepared to answer all the questions that new riders have when getting into riding. We needed a fun place for riders who didn’t have anything yet -- bike, education or gear.”
Recognizing a need and creating an all-new business are entirely different things. “In 2008 the economy tanked, but that actually led to the idea of a consignment store,” said Jessica. “Not only would it require less starting capital, consignment gives customers the chance to get excited by the ‘find’ of a perfect match for their needs. While I started with no retail experience, I quickly realized that I had several elements to put this plan into action.”
Officially starting in late 2010, Yellow Devil has become one of the cooler places to find riding gear, partly because of the deals that can be found, but also thanks to Jessica’s ability to help and educate new riders. Instead of forcing new riders to cross a metaphorical moat to make the first steps in riding, Yellow Devil serves as a sort of bridge.
“I really enjoy sharing the knowledge I’ve gained in this sport,” explained Jessica, “and without preaching, I’ve found I can share key principles with new riders about safety gear and training. I’m stoked to see my customers, to get them what works for them. You have to be a good listener, take your time and be engaged, which takes a lot of energy, but even though it sounds hokey, I feel like I’m making a difference.”
Read all the 2014 Women Who Roll profiles here.