Jessica Haggett & The Litas are one of the biggest influences in the women’s motorcycle scene. Jess and her all female riding group, are setting trends and changing motorcycle culture worldwide. Her goal is to inspire women to have the courage to ride and overcome fears.
The Interviews: Jessica Haggett & The Litas
Mark: First thing’s first, I want to know about Jessica. Can you tell me a bit about yourself; your childhood, places you’ve lived, family, work, etc.? Besides motorcycles, do you have any other interests, hobbies, passions I don’t know about? For all the guys out there, relationship status?
Jessica: I grew up in Washington State in the desert of Tri-Cities. I’m the youngest of four. My family is LDS so my siblings came to Utah for school. I moved to Bountiful, Utah my senior year of high school and then went to the University of Utah and studied entrepreneurship. My family is very business oriented. I work for a startup tech company as the operations manager. It’s super relaxed, I can wear what I want to work.
I love to play guitar. I taught guitar lessons for five years through college.
I’m single. I’m in the professional world during the day and in the motorcycle scene at night, and that doesn’t always mesh. My type of guy is motivated about doing something. Maybe it’s all around bikes and maybe it’s not, but bikes definitely have to be in there somewhere. I just haven’t found it yet.
Photo: Nostalgia Memoir
Mark: How long have you been riding motorcycles, what do you love about motorcycles and where is your favorite place to ride?
Jessica: I’ve been riding for six years. Riding motorcycles is the most empowering experience. It makes you feel powerful. You can sit on your bike and weave in and out of traffic. It pulls you up canyons and all of a sudden you are three hours away. I get to go on adventures constantly. When I get an idea in my head, I just have to do it. That’s actually how I got my first bike. It started as an idea, and even though I didn’t know how to ride, I was like… I’m going to make this happen. Now I ride every day, as long as my bike is working. I typically get off work and just choose a canyon and go ride it. I ride alone most often, but I do think it is more fun to ride with friends for the interaction.
Mark: Who has influenced you most in your love for the moto-scene? Any iconic idols? Anyone you especially love to collaborate with?
Jessica: Lana MacNaughton is my friend, but also my idol, because she’s one of those girls who is business oriented. She turned her artwork into something that’s really cool, which really impresses me. And she’s a super cool, good person while she’s doing it. Jun Song is my favorite photographer to work with because his photos are awesome and we get along so well. We just have a good time.
Mark: What was your first motorcycle? How many bikes have you owned? What are the year, make, and models of all your bikes?
Jessica: My first bike was an ’85 Honda Rebel 250cc. I really wanted a chopper. At the time, the Honda Rebel seemed close enough to a chopper (which I now know it isn’t). But, we made it look pretty cool.
For my second bike, Rev and Seth over at Salt City Builds had a little ’82 Yamaha XS400 in their garage. I was so sick of my 250 because it couldn’t go very fast, like on the highway it maxed out around 65-70mph. Rev had gotten the Yamaha for very cheap, because pretty much everything was wrong with it. They said if I sold my Honda I could buy the Yamaha at a good price. We fixed so much stuff on the XS, but at the end of the day my carbs were still ruined so it didn’t go much faster than the 250.
Now, I have a 2001 Harley Sportster 1200 Custom. That was kind of a funny decision. I was at my cabin in Montana last year and I was complaining about my bike and how I wanted a new one. My dad asked why I didn’t just take out a loan to get one. He said I was old enough and had a good job with steady income, so why not? So I was like, you’re right! I ended up doing that and two weeks later I had my bike.
Mark: I first discovered you on Instagram when I saw many posts about your stolen bike. What happened there?
Jessica: It’s awesome because when my bike got stolen, everyone posted about it for me. The guy who stole it crashed it on I-15. The tow truck came and a guy on his way to work recognized my bike. He pulled over and took a picture of it and sent it to me, so I was able to get my bike back from them. The power of social media is insane. It was the coolest thing to see everyone come together to help me out. That’s when I realized there is a real community out there that I didn’t even really know about yet.
Photo: Nostalgia Memoir
Mark: What is Gold Dust Clothing?
Jessica: I started Gold Dust Clothing because I thought it would be fun to sell vintage clothes. I had all this stuff and thought maybe I should put this stuff out there that I love. Maybe other girls would like it too. I made a website to sell these clothes, but it got too hard running that on top of my job and my commitment to The Litas. So I took the site down. Trying to sell clothes is very different when it comes to advertising and selling the product. I’m thinking about adding a way to shop for some vintage products as an extension of The Litas website. I’m already selling patches off the site and have had orders from all over the world. I want all the girls and guys to rock The Litas patch. I’m also planning on having shirts made. Purchase through our website: www.thelitas.co.
Mark: You are the creator and chief organizer of The Litas. In your own words, what is The Litas?
Jessica: The Litas in its most basic form is a network of girls who all share the common interest of riding motorcycles. I don’t want to identify as a club or a gang. I don’t want to turn anyone off from wanting to be a part of it. All it is, is fun rides, meet ups, and campouts. Through The Litas I have met so many cool girls and I just want more girls to have that opportunity. It is not exclusive in any way. Any girl in Utah who rides and wants to come hang out is invited, even if they are not one of The Litas. It just started last December and it has already grown so much. It’s exciting to think what the future will hold. We already have over 35 girls.
Photo: Nostalgia Memoir
Mark: Tell me about the name “Litas?”
Jessica: I was hanging out with my friend, Paige Macy, at a bar. She had just gotten a bike, and we were joking that we should start a biker gang. Paige’s old tag name for her art was Litas. It doesn’t have a significant meaning for our group, but I liked it and it stuck. And, it doesn’t really need to mean anything.
Mark: A lot of people when they think of Utah, they think it is 100% Mormons, so they might be surprised to see your slogan, “Raise Hell Babes”. Do The Litas stand out in rebellion against the religious influence in Utah?
Jessica: No, we don’t at all. Some of the Litas are LDS, and we all mesh really well because of our common interest. The “Raise Hell Babes” is more like, Give ‘em hell. Like if they think you can’t do it, then show them that you can.
Mark: Who can join The Litas? Are there prerequisites? Any excluded bike styles? Open to all? Any form of initiation?
Jessica: No, not at all. Some girls are beginner riders and some are experienced. We have never turned anyone down from joining us. We are predominately a riding group for women in Utah, but we have a limited affiliation with a few girls out of state.
Mark: The Litas are an integral part of the universal women’s motorcycle scene. I saw you recently met up with the Lana @fevvvvaa and the Highway Runaways. Can you talk about that? There seems to be an increase of women riders. Is your goal to be an influence in the women’s motorcycle scene?
Jessica: The Highway Runaways is a sponsored trip by Harley Davidson for five girls to ride across the country. If there are friends or well-known women riders in the cities they pass through, they are invited to join them in a ride. The Litas met up with them when they rode through Utah. We brought their biggest turnout so far.
I have so much fun riding my bike. I know it can be scary for girls to get a bike when they don’t know how to ride. It’s kind of a man’s world and the risk of getting in a motorcycle accident is scary. It can be a big barrier for girls. When girls see The Litas with so many girls riding different types of bikes, it gives them confidence and they realize they can do it.
Photo: Nostalgia Memoir
Mark: Do you consider yourself a feminist? Motorcycle culture has traditionally been chauvinistic. What is your opinion on girls dressing sexy and modeling on bikes vs. women who concentrate on becoming skilled riders? Is there room for both?
Jessica: I took a feminism class in college as an elective. The true meaning of a feminist is someone who believes in equal rights for men and women. There are the hardcore feminists, but really a feminist is someone who just believes men and women should be able to do the same things. So yeah, I’m a feminist, but most people who would say they aren’t probably don’t understand what it means.
There’s something awesome about feeling powerful and sexy while riding a bike. You can do it all. You don’t have to shy away from being a woman and being feminine to ride a bike. There’s girls who aren’t at all interested in being sexy who just want to ride, and I think that’s cool too. I definitely don’t think you need to take sexy photos on your bike, but, you know, if you want to and it’s fun, then do it. Why not?
Photo: Dan Sammons
Mark: Can you comment on current trends in motorcycle culture? Tell me about the motorcycle scene in Salt Lake City. What makes it great?
Jessica: Girl’s groups are getting a lot of hype right now. “The Guardian” is a huge media news source worldwide based in the UK. They are doing an article on women’s motorcycle groups and they called me for an interview. There’s an interest in women riders that transcends beyond the motorcycle community.
Media is playing a huge role in the motorcycle scene with photography, Instagram, and new apps being developed for motorcycle enthusiasts, such as The Revv app. I have made relationships on Instagram with women riders from all over and been able to keep those friendships. It has opened doors to network with so many other riders, promote group events, and advertise new businesses. I’ve seen a lot of new clothing companies coming out for riders. There hasn’t been a lot of great fitting moto gear for women, so I’m excited to see some more coming out. One of our Litas, Michelle Boucher, is designing leather motorcycle jackets for women riders. Jenny @hookersandpopcorn is also designing some stuff too.
Salt Lake City has a really strong moto scene. I think it’s great that people ride all different types of bikes and everyone is really open to meeting each other. The canyons of Utah really make it a beautiful place to ride. Leticia Cline @leticiacline was commenting on the scene in Florida. She said it takes hours on the highway to get to a scenic place to ride, and even so it is generally flat, straight roads. Around here you can be in twenty different canyons within an hour and they’re all so different and beautiful. I would have a really hard time leaving Utah.
Mark: What group events have The Litas been involved in organizing? What motivated you to start organizing group motorcycle events? Any other future events/rides up your sleeve?
Jessica: Mostly we do rides and hangouts just for The Litas. I mostly just do all girl stuff, but I wanted there to be some crossover. So, this spring we started a group ride called, “Sunday Mass” that is open to all. I wanted to do a coed group ride so I hit up Rev and asked him if he wanted to partner with me on it. So we meet one Sunday per month at Salt City Builds to ride out and then have a BBQ. The first Sunday Mass I was hoping for 30-50 people, but over 70 came. I was expecting to know most of the people who came to ride, but I only knew about 20% of them. It was crazy and awesome, because I met a ton of new people.
On Wednesday nights The Litas invite everyone to a local bar called, “The Garage.” It’s more of a social thing. The Garage is my favorite bar; their patio is freakin’ sweet. I wanted to do something where the girls could meet and just hang out. And now a ton of people go there every Wednesday.
Photo: Nostalgia Memoir
Mark: Did I miss anything? Is there anything else you would like to comment on about The Litas?
Jessica: I just hope that it keeps going. It’s cool how there’s even sub-groups forming where girls meet through The Litas and become friends, and that’s what I want. I just hope that keeps happening. I hope it keeps going forever. I always want it to be something that’s fun. I don’t want it to become more work than it’s worth. It’s all about getting together and having fun.
The Litas described in their own words…
Photos: Nostalgia Memoir
Michelle Boucher: Camaraderie and sisterhood. It’s a support system for girls that ride. We rule!
Molly Pacitti: A group of women riders who just want to ride together and share adventures together. It’s really fun. I just moved to Salt Lake City, so The Litas have really helped me meet friends who want to go explore Utah together on motorcycles.
Kim Jacobsen: Babes who like to ride, go on adventures, and have fun. I didn’t expect there to be so many lady riders, so it was a sweet surprise to find them when I got a bike. We show people that girls ride too. We know how to have fun, shift gears, clutch and throttle too.
Skye Larcade: We’re a group of women riders trying to break out of that shell that this is only a men’s sport. It’s a women’s world too. The Litas is a group of bad ass chicks doing our thing, ya know? It’s empowering riding with a group of ladies who are like minded and dig the same things you do. The positive energy with everyone about that braaaap, I love it. I hope that we’re an inspiration to other girls. Too many girls hate on each other and we are a good example that it doesn’t have to be like that.
Brooke Masters: Instant sisterhood and friendship. We have that common interest of riding motos and we’re just doing our thing. You don’t have to ride lonely when you’ve got all your sisters with you. It’s amazing how much the women’s motorcycle scene is growing all across the world, like in Australia.
Katy Manch: It’s a nice way to get out with girls who ride. I was really lonely and since I started riding with The Litas I’ve just been really happy.
Riley Ridd: A group of girls, started by Jessica Haggett, who ride all different types of motorcycles. I started riding in Hawaii but riding here with a group of girls is a completely different experience. The first time I started riding with this group of girls, I almost started crying. It was so rad seeing all those girls up ahead of me. Last time I rode by Michelle, and I just thought I want to ride next to her all the time because our riding style is so similar. I love meeting these girls that I’m totally in love with. I love it when the men in my life drool when I’m on their bike, but I think as soon as we start getting pictures that are liked as much for girls that know how to ride and are actually riding well, as opposed to just looking sexy standing beside a bike, then we’ve accomplished something.
Tandra Steiner: A group of gals who get together to share their passion for life, adventure, and of course motorcycles. There is no politics or judgement; just a freedom and a shared love for the open road.
Deni Karly: Get out of my face with your questions, Mark. (JK, she didn’t say that… but her eyes and her silence did).