The woman steering Harley-Davidson into fresh directions.

Karen Davidson exudes the essence of a modern-day icon, a fusion of leather-clad allure and metal chain sophistication reminiscent of Farah Fawcett. As the great-granddaughter of Harley-Davidson co-founder William A. Davidson and the brand's creative director, she epitomizes the #GirlBoss ethos. Her mission? To shatter the outdated stereotype of the old, white biker and beckon a new generation of women to embrace the freedom of the open road. Our recent encounter with Davidson at The Motorcycle Show unveiled her strategic vision for leading the evolution of biker culture.

What was your experience growing up in the Davidson household as a woman? Were you always drawn to biker culture?

Biker culture runs deep in my veins; it's part of my DNA. I took to riding at the age of 9, a time when female riders were scarce on the roads. Yet, any notion of gender bias never deterred me. If someone dared to suggest I ride pillion, I'd counter with a resolute "No! Can I have my own bike?"

I've always been captivated by races and events. Even at a tender age, I marveled at the eclectic tapestry of individuals that motorcycling attracted, each one using their attire as a canvas of self-expression. The wild array of leathers, tattoos, and piercings spoke volumes of personal journeys. It's no wonder I found myself crafting leathers for fellow enthusiasts, eventually pursuing my passion through fashion school, albeit with a few sewing machine casualties along the way.

Did you always envision joining the family business?

Not initially. The realm of apparel within the brand wasn't even a distinct entity during my formative years. After completing my education, I ventured into the conventional fashion industry to hone my skills. It was only upon joining Harley that I embarked on a grassroots journey, starting from the basics to mold it into something grand.

How have you witnessed the evolution of women's participation in the biker community over the years? What's the landscape like for female bikers today?

Women today wield unprecedented empowerment. I embrace and draw inspiration from every woman who grips the handlebars. Their presence is transformative; witnessing one woman ride sparks the flame in countless others. Young women, especially, exhibit remarkable courage and eagerness to explore the thrill of riding. It's a trend akin to a fervent race to obtain licenses!

How has Harley-Davidson adapted to embrace this surge of young female enthusiasts?

We were pioneers in embracing female riders. Through our dealerships, we observed a seismic shift; women who once rode as passengers now sought active participation, and we facilitated that transition. Our exclusive Garage Parties catered to women, offering a space to socialize and delve into all facets of biking. Diversity is ingrained in our brand ethos; the doors are wide open.

How do you redefine the traditional biker image to resonate with young women?

We've transcended the stereotypical portrayal of rugged, older, tattooed men. Our demographic is vibrant and diverse. Residing in California exposes me to a dynamic mix of youthful enthusiasts. Harley-Davidson's rich heritage resonates with young adults. In the realm of fashion, we prioritize fit and then offer a kaleidoscope of colors and styles. We recognize the yearning of young women to embody a tough-chic aesthetic, providing ample avenues for self-expression.

What's the sentiment among young women towards wearing the Harley-Davidson logo? Have you adjusted its prominence to align with fashion-forward preferences?

Remarkably, our research revealed a fervent desire among young women to proudly flaunt the Harley-Davidson insignia. It's a badge of honor, signifying allegiance to a lifestyle rather than just a brand. Authenticity is paramount; they embrace the logo as a proclamation of identity, whether it's their leisure attire or a professional ensemble.

What are the most coveted items among young female enthusiasts?

The vest and jacket reign supreme as aspirational staples, epitomizing the embodiment of the Harley-Davidson ethos. Additionally, our harness boots hold a special allure for many.

What advice would you offer to young women aspiring to delve into motorcycling?

Begin your journey at a dealership and inquire about rider courses. Dealerships serve as welcoming havens, often staffed by knowledgeable women who straddle both the merchandise and riding domains. It's a seamless transition from browsing accessories to eyeing your dream bike on the showroom floor.