How getting more women into bike maintenance could help SMASH THE PATRIARCHY!

LBK bike

We were delighted to be joined by Jenni, the founder of the London Bike Kitchen this month to talk about what LBK does, and how more women should get into bike maintenance (apparently they are much better at it than men).  Much ranting about a lack of female role models in STEM fields may have ensued.  Plus maybe quite a lot of raving about Mary Anning, President Chloe’s favourite palaeontologist (sorry for all the dino chat guys!).

Jenni talked to us about the London Bike Kitchen, an open DIY bike workshop where you can learn how to fix your bike!  She is super passionate about people learning how to fix their bikes rather than just charging people to fix them.  I have a feeling a few of us may be heading over there to do a class or two on bike maintenance soon…

Jenni shared with us her top tops on starting up a new enterprise (this seems to have been a bit of a theme of our meetings so far this year!)

  • Make mistakes – you will learn from them!LBK logo
  • Talk to everyone – you never know what people might know that could be incredibly useful to you…
  • Learn how to say no
  • Know your weaknesses
  • Capitalise on motivation.  You may not always feel super excited to get on with something, so do it whilst you’ve got the enthusiasm!

If you want to find our more they are on all the social media channels @LDNBikeKitchen, or

And finally, why aren’t there more female bike mechanics if they are better than men?

  • We need more positive role models
  • There needs to be more opportunities for girls and women to get into these kinds of fields
  • And finally (although how to do this remains a bit of a mystery) we need to SMASH THE PATRIARCHY!
And finally a picture of Mary Anning. Just because…

Hackney Wicked Women get Strong+Bendy!

Home screen
The Strong+Bendy studio on a lovely sunny day (not a grey evening in January!)

We kicked off 2018 with an energetic start, as we welcomed Rhian Cowburn, founder of Hackney Wick’s very own boutique fitness studio, Strong + Bendy.  Rhian told us about the concept behind Strong+Bendy, gave us her top tips for starting your own business (but which also apply generally to being successful whatever you do), and gave us a short taster session of one of the most popular classes on the studio timetable, Pop Pilates (which is basically high energy pilates to music).

Strong+Bendy opened in June 2017, offering a range of classes (yoga, pilates, HIIT, kettlebell training, bootcamps, core conditioning).  Rhian also offers personal training sessions in the studio.  Whilst some classes are led by Rhian, she also has a small army of fabulous instructors (including her identical twin sister – very confusing sometimes) who take some of the classes, so there is always something different to do.  For more information, check out her website


Rhian’s Top Tips for starting a successful business and keeping it that way

1. Set a vision 
Identify the things you’re willing to compromise on and the things you’re not. In the long run I want Strong + Bendy to be a luxury studio. At the moment I’m having to compromise on facilities (changing rooms etc) but what I won’t compromise on is quality of instructors
2. Battle sexism
On my PT course men were referring to the easier exercises as ‘girl exercises’. I couldn’t let that go without having the lecturer call it out and agree to not tolerate it being said on the course again in the future
3. Be Brave
It will be financially tough and at times you will give yourself excuses  as to why it would be OK to give up…. but stay focused on why you started in the first place!
4. Don’t pay too much attention to other people
Thoroughly research the companies you admire and want to be like. Then try not to worry too much what other people are doing. There will always be companies doing similar to you, just concentrate on what you want to do well and try not to be distracted.
5. Be kind
For some people sticking to fitness is a constant battle of wills. Just turning up to a class is often a real achievement (especially on dark winter nights!). If you can be kind to every person that comes, it’s the small things that will make a big difference when you’re hoping to build a lasting community of people who support your business
We weren’t quite as good at Pop Pilates as Rhian (here showing us how it is meant to look) but we had a fantastic time nevertheless!

Hackney Wicked Women featured in the Telegraph


Happy 2018 to all our inspiring, brave and incredible women.

In case you missed it, check out Catherine Hufton’s piece from the Telegraph from last month, where our Secretary and food enthusiast Sophie talks about Hackney Wicked Women’s recent speakers and local community events.

Fancy joining us this month?

Come along to our next meeting at Hub 67 on 10 January where Rhian, founder of Strong and Bendy Fitness Studio will tell us about her journey, and take us through a short taster class.

Details on our Facebook events page

Meet the Committee – Sophie the Super-Secretary

Since we last posted on here, we’ve had a few changes on the Wicked Women committee, so new people to help plan awesome meetings for our lovely members, and undertake various admin duties that the WI Federation ask of us!  After our long-standing secretary Charlie stood down earlier on in the year in order to focus more on producing her adorable new future WI guest (even though he’s a boy – men can come to meetings too!), baby Charlie, Sophie volunteered to take the reins (and Charlie’s massive ringbinder of paperwork).  Here we get the lowdown on what the WI and life as a woman in East London means to her…
What do you do in the committee?
I’m the secretary, which means I am drowned in post from the Federation but more interestingly I help promote and publicise the WI.
Why did you want to join a WI?
I’d moved into the area with my boyfriend and wanted to meet some local people. Hackney Wicked Women looked like a group of interesting, cool women so I thought I could bring down the average a bit!
What’s your fave moment with Hackney Wick WI so far?
Marbling was probably my favourite activity. Not to say I was any good at it but very fun nonetheless and my friend got an excellent birthday card out of it.
Outside of WI, what do you get up to?
I love food so if I’m not eating I’m planning meals, going to restaurants or making some new absurd pickle or bread.
Favourite tipple?
Most things with gin. Or just gin. Different types of gin.
Did I mention gin?
Your favourite thing about being a woman?
I love having the flexibility to do pretty much anything I want without judgement, men don’t really get to wear a skirt without a little side eye – I could wear dungarees one day and a silk frock the next. For me it’s the opportunity for constant reinvention.
Your least favourite thing about being a woman?
Societal expectations
What would you like to see for women in Hackney Wick/the WI the future?
To keep its own unique vibe that makes it different from anywhere else in the U.K. or London.
Favourite places in and around Hackney Wick?
Capish’s sandwiches are hard to beat

A (slightly belated!) Happy New Year from the Hackney Wicked Women President, Chloe

Yes, I know it’s already February, but here’s to a fantastic 2017 for all you Wickeimg_20170111_192941_304d Women out there!  We’ve already started the year with abang, with a spirited debate about We should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and feminism in general.  We also celebrated Vice-President Niki’s birthday with cake (in true WI fashion).

2016 was my first year as president of our merry band of women, and I hope you all enjoyed it as much as me.  We had beer tasting, flower arranging, craft Olympics and much more, finishing the year with a bang as we all made our own felt vagina Christmas decorations.  Much hilarity all round!



The meeting that stayed with me the longest was our session in October on Climate Change and Sustainability with Athene and Martin from Divest Hackney.  They really made me think about taking personal responsibility for the environment.  I’ve since changed to a 100% green energy supplier, started trying to cut down on my meat consumption (hampered slightly by living with a committed carnivore, but I do the shopping and cooking so it’s happening by stealth!) and making an effort to holiday just as much but fly less this year (so far my first trip of the year is going to be by Eurostar to Paris).

The committee has since been hard at work planning meetings, film nights and quizzes for the year ahead.  We’ve got inspirational female speakers, gardening, comedy and img_20170129_161608_865much more to come.  April is our AGM where members get the chance to vote in the new committee and join the committee themselves if you want to have your say in how we run the Wicked Women going forward.  If you aren’t already a member now is the time to join – membership is just £39 for the full year, which gets you access to all our meetings and a copy of WI Life each month (which we know isn’t the most exciting read but it has good puzzles!).

Here’s to an amazing year!  See you soon…

Chloe, Hackney Wicked Women WI President


October 2016: Sustainability and Climate Change with Divest Hackney

Last month, as part of the WI’s ‘Speak Up Week of Action‘ we invited Athene and Martin from Divest Hackney to discuss sustainability and climate change.
Athene from Divest Hackney


So Athene and Martin, tell us a bit about yourselves and what you do in Divest Hackney…

Martin: I have been involved in the Divest Hackney campaign for about a year and a half. One of the main things I have been doing is liaising with the council on the importance of the financial argument for why divestment makes sense.

Athene:  And I got involved with Divest Hackney in November last year. I’ve mainly been involved with the outreach side of things – holding workshops/talks in schools and at science events to raise awareness as well as helping out with other general things, like petitioning, banner-making, etc…. 

How did you get in to Divest Hackney, and what was your talk at HWW about?

Martin from Divest Hackney

Athene: I’m doing a PhD at King’s College, which itself has an active divestment campaign and as climate change is a cause I care deeply about, I was very keen to get involved with a local group. A friend from the King’s divestment campaign then put me in touch with Divest Hackney.

Martin: I met Gabriel, who is one of our lead campaigners, at the Global Divestment day in 2015, found out we both lived in Hackney and both decided to get more involved with the campaign. We were really happy to have the opportunity to talk to the Hackney Wicked WI – it’s important to engage people and get them involved at a grassroots level.  

Athene: Our talk was split into three parts:

  • The bad news about climate change and the multitude of environmental and economical effects it is having on the world and is expected to have in the immediate future.
  • The positive steps that are being taken at a global and individual level to mitigate the effects of climate change, with some tips on what individuals can do.
  • The concept of divestment, which means taking assets out of the fossil fuel industry, and explained the power of this movement on a global level, as well as about the progress of our local campaign with Hackney council. 

So, how can we be more mindful about climate change and sustainability moving forward? 

Athene: I think there’s already a great deal of general awareness about climate change and the disastrous effects it entails, but that doesn’t always translate into action due to the stresses of everyday life. I think it’s really important that steps are taken on both an individual level and at a structural level, and people can do a lot to support both processes.

For example:

  • switching to a green energy provider, which is fast and inexpensive, can cut your carbon footprint by up to 50%!
  • shopping locally and ethically
  • using more green transport options such as bikes and trains.

Equally, it’s really important that individuals put pressure on politicians, public bodies and businesses to act in line with the Paris Agreement of last year and support local divestment campaigns. 

Martin: There are lots of great online resources available for people to find out about things you can do in your day-to-day life if you are interested in making a difference about climate change.

There are lots of amazing materials online from recycling, to switching your energy provider. If you are interested in divestment specifically, is an excellent website where you can find out about local campaigns, how to get involved and how to make sure your pension isn’t invested in fossil fuels!
Local councils are starting to go fossil free, and here’s how The campaign to divest local councils from fossil fuels is making waves. The overwhelming majority of …

So, tell us a bit about Hackney’s project specifically. 

Athene: Divest Hackney has been going since February 2015 and is calling on Hackney Council to divest the £42 million they have invested in the fossil fuel industry through their pension fund.

The campaign has grown a lot since then, with huge support from the local community and we have come quite far in liaising with the councillors to pass a divestment motion. The overall response from the pension committee has been positive and we are hopeful that steps towards divestment will be taken.

However, at the supposed decision day in October, action was deferred until January due to the possibility of countrywide pooling of pension fund assets. So it’s still really important that we maintain pressure on the council until then and grow our support networks.

How can people apply or find out more? 

Our campaign is totally open for anyone to join and we are also happy to put people in touch with other local London campaigns if you don’t live in Hackney.

We meet every Monday at 7:30pm at the Market Café on Broadway Market and there are lots of things people get involved with according to their interests and how much free time they have!

If you are interested in getting involved, feel free to send us an email to 

Our petition is still going strong and we are happy about every signature! You can find it at

Frack Off London and Divest London, which are affiliated campaigns, are holding an event this Saturday 28th October to peacefully protest Barclay’s involvement in fracking at Golden Square in Soho – the more people turn up, the stronger the message! You can find details for the event on Facebook 

You can follow Divest Hackney’s news and upcoming events on

June 2016: Suffragette Walking Tour


Reported by Elaine Shotbolt, HWW Treasurer.

Welcome,Wicked Women, to my first ever blog!

On Wed 1st June after a day of heavy downpours the sun came out- hooray!

We followed in the footsteps of the Suffragettes around Bow. We heard about these wonderful women and the work they did to help the poor and starving families, and to make a difference to their lives.

Our guides Becca and Lora Su led us along the way taking in the landmarks {or not!} and what had happened there.

We were joined by five guests including my colleague Cathie and her friend Alice- thank you ladies.
We all had a wonderful evening and enjoyed snacks from the lovely Niki and quiz gifts too. Enjoy the books ladies and look forward to seeing you again!

HWW Member & Treasurer Elaine x

If you’d like to do the walk yourself around East London, download our Walking in the footsteps of our Suffragette Sisters guide and map with added quiz questions 🙂