Eric and Sadie Davies' relationship is anything but the norm—"many of my friends need that separation from their spouse to hang with the guys, but Sadie and I have literally been next to each other since the day we met," gushes Deity Owner, Eric Davies about his wife and business partner. "I cannot think of another relationship quite like it." They met over two decades ago and have been inseparable ever since. It's not every couple who can work day in and day out together and then go home and still want to spend every waking hour in each other's company. After three years of especially hard work on a relaunch of Deity they are set to release a 95% new product line, website, and direction—all with amped up intensity on February 28th. We caught up with them during an unusually quiet moment to ask the secret to their success and for a little relationship advice in honour of Valentine's Day.
How did you meet? Sadie:
|We are always seeking to improve ourselves and to be challenged. That holds true for our relationship, the company, our friends, our goals, and how we view ourselves.- Eric|
It’s amazing to look back after 21 years—more than half our lifetimes together—and remember how such a simple moment could have so much impact in both our lives. Eric and I crossed paths while studying at the University of Idaho. From the moment we met there was an incredibly magnetic energy between us that has since become our secret weapon. Our first encounter was just a casual introduction but a few weeks later fate put us together with mutual friends on the way to a party. We ended up leaving the party, talking all night, and watching the sunrise. We had both found our perfect match that night. We’ve been together since that day and looking back now at the crazy path we’ve forged, it’s the stuff movies are made of. We’re both outsiders by circumstance, restless by nature, neurotic and obsessed with improving ourselves and continuously pushing to be the best. I would say we couldn’t have done it without the magic we shared in the beginning, but the key to growing together is communication and honesty.
I learned very quickly that Eric is extremely unique and complex. I will always roll the dice on him because he’s always delivered and has never let me down. Eric:
As Sadie and I grow Deity together we’ve become two bodies with one mind in a way. We don’t really have to waste time discussing things, we just know that we both have Deity’s best interest as a top priority and can read each other’s tiny nuances that allow us to communicate without words. Of course, there are tough times but you have to know that this is what you want and for me there is no question we are partners till the end, Ride or Die!
Who got who into mountain biking and what was that process like? Eric:
My whole life was my bicycle as a kid, but growing up in Guatemala meant that I was restricted in where I could go. I was still just a young pup when my family moved to Idaho and I was set free to explore, ride dirt jumps, and find my freedom on two wheels. This was all way before mountain biking became part of the cycling culture, so BMX and skateboarding were what defined my passion at the time.
When I was going to the University of Idaho, I decided to pick up a new board so that I could bomb my way through the campus between classes. I went into a local bike shop to see if they carried any decks and propped on display across the room was the bike that would ignite a serious passion for mountain biking. It was a Gary Fisher Joshua and it looked like a dirt bike to me. It is so funny to look back on it now, but that is where it all started—that very day! Before I knew it I owned that bike, had bought the first generation Z1 fork for it, and fell in love with racing, Palmer, Missy, and the attitude they brought to the scene.
I really became addicted to it. It is the thing people who know me immediately catch on to—I am obsessed with things I love.
Sadie could not get away from my passion for two wheels and we were always together, so her hopping on a bike came naturally. I remember seeing her blast down the hills in Moscow, Idaho on a beat up Huffy with damn near flat tires weaving her way through people and cars like a mad woman. She has always been rebellious, willing to dive into a challenge, and in love with speed. She loves to go fast; muscle cars, motorcycles, bikes, work life, and so much more!
|Those days of Eric teaching me how to ride built the trust between us that has become the foundation for Deity.|
Starting your own business is terrifying at the best of times, how did you manage that stress and maintain a healthy relationship at the same time? Eric:
For one, neither of us give up easy and I think we met at a time where we could really grow together. We are so much alike, but also balance each other out in many ways. I think the fact that we shared the same love for music, movies, influences, and mountain biking made it easy to look past an issue at hand and be willing to compromise for the bigger picture.
Honesty has also been a huge part of our relationship. When you are 100% honest with yourself and your partner, it builds a bond that is virtually unbreakable. I’ve learned just how powerful integrity and character really are, both of which are built on honesty. These aspects of our lives have significantly shaped Deity's philosophies.
You are now veterans at being married and working together, how do you keep your relationship healthy and happy and your working relationship creative and productive? Sadie:
|Everything is a work in progress, but you must be willing to see your own shortcomings in order to grow and become a better person.|
This is always a work in progress. Eric and I find inspiration in the athletes around us; there are so many factors that go into winning and feeling confident for them. The ability to consistently pick yourself up again and again, to push through the toughest challenges knowing that championships are won on the hardest days—that is like the magic Eric and I share as we constantly push to be better. For us seeing how all the work and effort we put into Deity can allow our athletes and customers to push the limits of our sport is amazing fuel for us.
We have to be creating, whether it’s time together digging on our moto track or working on Deity, the process of moving forward and creating something together is the platform for our health and happiness. We also love to do things our own way, we don’t take queues from other companies, we don’t label ourselves or put things into categories; we want to be appreciated for what we are and what Deity is as its own unique entity. We’re pushing for greatness and a lasting effect on the industry we love so dearly, that is why we’ve always invested in people, music, and inspiration that is positive.
This has all been a huge piece of our success, but of course, I have to give a shout out to our sidekick Bela Lugosi Jr. He’s our rescue Min-Pin and anyone who loves dogs knows how much happiness they bring. He’s a ray of sunshine for us and brings joy to every day.
Eric: Both aspects complement each other. Outside of Deity, our world is surrounded by the things that inspire our creativity for the brand and make us smile daily. From people and music to films, bikes, and motorcycles we are constantly putting fuel on the fire and it trickles into everything we do professionally and privately.
Don’t get me wrong, it takes a shitload of effort to constantly channel creativity. I often feel like I am just sitting on a board in the middle of the ocean waiting for a wave to come in that I can ride for as long as possible. This is why when we leave work, we try to fuel ourselves.
Fortunately, a huge balance for us has become motorcycles. From our vintage Triumphs and Yamahas to our modern fuel injected bikes, it has been a revitalizing part of our life that really blends well with our mountain bike lifestyle.
Do you ever argue? How do you resolve it? Do you tend to argue more in relation to your work or personal lives? Eric:
We don’t ever argue at work, but we do disagree on things. We had to separate business from our relationship right from the beginning. At work, we both recognize that Deity is a collaborative effort, so we treat each other with the same respect and dignity that we give all our employees, athletes and customers.Sadie:
Of course we disagree on things at times, but we’re constantly reminded that you have to be painfully honest and vulnerable to truly find the areas you need to grow and improve. We try to keep that at the forefront of our business and personal lives, but emotions are involved, so I can certainly overreact or be sensitive. Eric is more level headed than I am about these things, but I think the relationship we’ve cultivated at work has definitely helped us in our personal relationship. Really it all goes back to being selfless and compromising for the best of both of us and for the people involved with Deity. When we both focus on these attributes things run like a well-oiled machine. What advice would you give to other couples about working together or starting a business together? Sadie:
First and foremost, you have to have a super solid relationship and be excellent communicators. At some point, there has to be a boss and that doesn’t always work well for relationships. Being overly clear about what roles you each play and your intentions will certainly help avoid issues, but you also have to take things as they come. Business doesn’t always have time for feelings, but relationships have to. Finding that sweet spot is tough and takes a lot of patience and communication, and awareness of how we affect each other. In the end, you both have to want to be in it together more than anything, so having a friendship or teammate attitude about it makes challenges easier to overcome.
|You have to remind yourself that you both have the same goals at heart. Your paths to get there may be slightly different, but you have to be open to ideas that can better who you are and what your business can be.|
Our industry has been called misogynistic and it's certainly male dominated, do you ever run into situations where Sadie is overlooked or under-credited for her work simply because of her gender? How do you deal with those attitudes when you encounter them? Sadie:
Of course we do, but I always feel like every single person has some challenge in life that is unfair. It’s how you deal with it and what you make of it that defines the experience for you. Don’t get me wrong, it’s frustrating, but it makes me want to win that person over that much more. In the end, it all comes back to why we’re doing this, so passing a customer off to a male coworker doesn’t bother me if I think it’s a better fit. I’m very comfortable and confident in my abilities so it’s not a major issue for me. However, it’s one of the things that bothers Eric the most about our industry.
In the end, I believe your greatest challenges define you. You have the choice to let it be a burden, shortcoming or limitation, or you can find a way to raise above it, that is true greatness and how the champions in life find a way to succeed when no one else can.
|Women are the largest growing demographic in our sport, so the industry better wake up and get with the program—or we'll just leave them behind!|
I’ll be completely honest, Sadie is a badass, she’ll deliver more than you ask for every time, she’s as smooth as they come and the best in the biz. For anyone to underestimate her for any reason just gives her the upper hand. I definitely struggle with this attitude and I hear it from top manufacturers in our industry when they talk about female athletes. You wouldn’t believe the people I’ve heard say that women in our sport aren’t worth investing in unless they are Rachel Atherton or winning championships.
Obviously, we feel completely the opposite, our company employs more women than men, we have some of the best female athletes in the industry, and I’d rather take a risk on Sadie than anyone else on the planet. It was a no-brainer to do a signature part with Tracy Moseley, she’ll kick almost every guys’ ass on two wheels while carrying herself with incredible grace and style.
Our first sponsored athlete was a woman, we support more women in this industry than many of the largest brands, we promote them the same way we do the men, and we invest in who they are. I fell in love with mountain biking at a beautiful time when people like Leigh Donovan, Missy, Anne-Caro, and so many more, were the faces that got me hyped every weekend when OLN kicked off their coverage. I love watching women kick ass on a bike and I know that if this industry invested more into the people that are the voices of this sport, we would see more and more talent rise from it.
With working and living together, do you ever need a break from each other? Sadie:
We’re kind of crazy about each other, so no, we’re basically together 24/7. Of course, we’re both very comfortable being alone, but really, being together is kind of like being alone at this point. We’ve spent more of our lives together than apart. It is a unique relationship because we are not dependent on each other, but we never get tired of each other. It may be due to the level of communication we have or need to understand each other and our environment, but one thing is for sure, we love to discuss everything to find the areas we can improve and that process keeps us connected while growing together.Eric:
Over the past few years, though, we have had to divide and conquer in so many aspects of Deity, so even though we are in the same building, we are focused on different tasks, people, and often cannot connect until late at night.
We need a vacation!
You each command a different area of Deity, did those roles naturally evolve or was it simply out of necessity in running the company? Sadie:
Both really; Eric was definitely the creative side right out of the gate and customer service is where I shine best, so there were some clear roles at the beginning. We both are really great at sales, but also hate being sold, so we had a unified voice that also allowed us to share those roles. As we grew, we both followed our instincts and began teaching ourselves as much as possible. We always wanted to know and own everything we could about each aspect of the business so we could have control and understand how to maximize our potential. I took classes on accounting and Eric taught himself how to do graphics, web design, and so much more.
|We did not want to ever have a suit and tie influence the direction of Deity and to do that 100%, you better own what you do and do it at a level unlike anyone else.|
This journey has been 100% about growing and improving ourselves while making Deity the best it could be. Our growth has been completely organic as well as the roles we both play now, which has been the best way to find our strengths and weaknesses while figuring out who is the best person for the job.
That is the key to a great team. You have to be able to see what roles each member can blossom in, that will fuel other aspects of their professional and private life. We began this journey finding our own ways to improve both ourselves and the company and that has naturally translated to our employees and riders. With you both working together it can be easy to bring work or 'work talk' home with you, how do you give yourselves a break? Eric:
We certainly do bring work home, but that’s the free time we have to brainstorm and come up with amazing ideas for the company. Honestly, we have to divide and concur at work, so we don’t spend much time together, the same goes for almost every situation for us, except when we’re alone. The time we have away from work is where a lot of our ideas and collaborations happen, we feed off each other and it’s exciting and invigorating. We’re both always looking for inspiration and fuel for the next stage, so the time we have at home allows us to connect.Sadie:
There is no way for us to try to separate the two, if we did it would lead to frustration and I think putting parameters around our interactions only creates limitations. I’ll be honest, we’re not very good at stopping to smell the roses, and I know we need to work on that… but in the future, haha! But at this point, we’re in it to win it and the break comes when we wear each other out!
If you had never created Deity, do you think you'd have been drawn to a situation where you worked together? Sadie:
Absolutely! In fact, we worked together briefly at a bike shop years before Deity was ever even a thought. We make an amazing team, as individuals we are great, but together we’re unstoppable. The story of our life together is like a fairytale, people don’t often get to fall madly in love and create something from that connection that defines the style and voice of a movement like Deity! Eric is more to me than words could ever describe, he is my soul mate, he inspires me to be better, he’s pushed me and supported me and all the while with the most understanding love I’ve ever experienced. I’ve never known anyone who could love as hard, hold themselves to such a higher standard, and always deliver as him. Eric is an incredible person, you never forget him and his intensity can be felt without even saying a word. He is destined for greatness and I’m along for the ride!
|I will be with Eric until the day I die and I am a better person because of my journey with him.|
Sharing this passion and intensity with the person I love makes it that much better and I have no doubt we would be doing something together. We used to dream about it before we ever dared to think about DEITY. When starting this company was just a thought, I knew that the only way it could work was with Sadie. She is selfless, giving, caring, honest, knowledgeable, talented, focused, and there is nobody that could make this world happen like her. She sees me as such a critical part of the company and I see her as the critical part. It is why we are able to be elevating Deity to new heights right now. We are always striving to improve personally, as a team, but we are always in awe of each other throughout the process.
|In the end it all comes down to love. We love each other, what we do, and this industry. Isn't that what everyone wants in the end, to feel that indescribable feeling that motivates and drives us all? In our eyes, no matter what you are doing, if it fulfills and challenges you, then it's a winner. Life is too short to see what happens, you have to find what you love and make it happen!|
- Eric and Sadie