Mandy Davis, DHaRCO – No Ordinary Life

With a mother from Whistler, a father in textiles and an interest in fashion, it’s no surprise that Mandy Davis started mountain biking clothing label DHaRCO (DownHill Australian Racing Company), designing surf inspired bike gear for freeride, downhill, enduro and all mountain riding.

Mandy riding at Barjarg

Born in Sydney, with a Canadian mother, Mandy spent a few months every second Christmas in Whistler, skiing the whole time.  Uni holidays were also spent skiing and instructing in Whistler and Europe. Taking husband Mathieu Taris over to Whistler for a ski holiday, her cousin took Mathieu bike riding on the north shore of BC, Vancouver.  He loved it so much he bought her cousin’s bike and took it back to Paris where they were living at the time.

Mandy and Mathieu at Thredbo

Mandy didn’t get into biking when Mathieu did, thinking it was too dangerous.  “I love skiing but when you fall it’s soft.  Biking just seemed a bit crazy”, she tells me.  But when they moved from Paris to Australia and Mathieu had no one to ride with, Mandy’s riding career began. The second time she ever rode was the downhill at Thredbo.  She had ridden some down hill tracks in the French Alps, but it all started in Thredbo, “I really love Thredbo for that, because I started riding here.  That first weekend I literally had two black eyes and bruises all over my body.  I just crashed so many times but I wasn’t going to let the mountain win so I just kept going back, then I really started liking it.” She then bought herself a bike and started riding.  Mandy and Mathieu would ride the downhill tracks around Sydney doing jumps and things that Mandy admits she didn’t have the skills for at the time.  “It’s funny because we rode only downhill, now I’ve been doing more trail riding and I’m a better rider, I’ve been riding for 6 or 7 years, so I’m feeling really comfortable. I went back to where I used to ride downhill to get ready for racing the Cannonball at Thredbo and I was like, wow, I actually have the skills now to do things I was doing before I had the skills.” It’s come full circle for Mandy.  Starting with downhill and then moving to trail riding which is now helping her go back to downhill.  She’s not competitive but she does compete in events.  “Events are really good for me, otherwise I would never push myself to do the hard stuff.  If I’m just riding by myself, I probably wouldn’t have gone done some of the things I’ve gone down.  When I was riding at the beginning we were just going to events.  You can’t race and not go down the hard bits, so it was really good.  It helped my riding, and I found the whole race scene was great for the people and the whole atmosphere.  I was always riding for fun, I don’t feel the pressure of racing, but I enjoy the racing because it pushes me to be better.” A few years ago, Mandy was working long hours in a fast paced marketing/sales job.  She was looking to do something else, something more creative.   With a farther in textiles, she grew up around fabric.  When she was in high school she worked in his factory looking for faults in the fabric.  With a love of fashion, and limited riding gear for women and mountain biking taking off, she though she’d start a new clothing brand.

DHaRCO sponsored rider at Thredbo’s Cannonball MTB festival

In Jan 2012 Mandy decided to quit her job and just go for it, selling an apartment her at Mathieu owned, they invested everything into DHaRCO.  She spent time in China and Taiwan looking at different factories.  Thinking it would take six months to develop the first products, it took two years before they were ready.  Launching their first range in May this year at the World Cup in Cairns. Since launching DhaRCO, Mandy has started a part time job.   With the leg work of developing the range being the harder side done, now it’s selling the product and starting work on the next range and that is the biggest time factor.   They’ll launch at the beginning of each summer from now on.

DHaRCO sponsored rider

The drawcard of the brand is the women’s range.  They started selling in Whistler,  getting gear into a shop which completely sold out over the summer.  They expected the women’s to sell really well and the men’s sold just as well.  Here there are more women’s sales compared to other brands.  That’s what Mandy wanted and why she started it, because there weren’t many women’s options. The clothing is designed so you feel like you are wearing normal clothes however highly technical.  And also that you can feel comfortable after a ride heading into the shops on your way home or to the pub for a beer.  Shredding in style. Even the t-shits are made from technical material with dry release, a quick dry fabric.  It’s 85% polyester and 15% cotton, so it feels like a t-shirt but it’s moisture wicking.  It’s a US patented fabric that they get made and dyed to their specific colours.  One of the key things for Mandy was finding really good fabric, “you’ve got to have the cut, the design and the features, but I think really good fabric is the most important”.

DHaRCO sponsored rider

As well as a clothing label and part time job, Mandy is also a mum to Luca who is almost two.  Even with a little baby, Mathieu and Mandy have been really committed to riding.  “We still ride a lot with him, riding about 4 or 5 months after he was born, I’d be taking off body armour to breast feed.  We’ve always taken him, he just shuttles with us or we stay at the bottom and play with him when he needs to get out.  I think we ride more now that we did because we’re really focussed on putting the time in to do it.” With a motto ‘no ordinary life’ Mandy and Mathieu live and breathe that through DHaRCO.   They are now selling in the US, and have also just started selling in Queenstown.  Keep an eye out for the bold colours and great styling, coming to a trail and podium near you.

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