Kitty Erina, SheShreds.co CEO

Kitty Erina, CEO

I am the girl who loves to run off mountains, who loves to fly, who loves to throw herself towards the earth, kept from crashing down only by her skill with her acro paraglider.

I am also a woman who loves to spend all of her free time in the outdoors, doing anything with adrenaline. I love the unfamiliar; to explore new things, to experience the feeling of adventure, to be unbound and free. And I am a woman who can't imagine her life without sports or without the mountains, where I feel most at home. 

I was the first woman to fly in Cape Verde, the first woman to join the only paragliding school there to teach the first female class and show them that this sport can also be done by women.

The mountains, the sense of freedom, the search of adventure, the feeling of home and a life filled with sports, that's my life now, but it wasn’t always like that for me.

Growing up, I was one of those girls that never fit in.

I had red hair, freckles, glasses, and I was self conscious about my weight. I played the flute and came from a family with less money, and always felt like a misfit. Beneath that misfit surface, I was also a victim of child abuse and neglect starting from a young age. Self-confidence was a word that I didn’t know the meaning of.

I was taught to set goals that were unreachable and to work my ass off, no matter the cost. I thought that I would always have to prove to the world that I could do better, and I thought that I didn’t matter as much as others. Sports were never part of my life until I turned 15. 

I fell in love with extreme sports and it saved my life. 

When I was 15, I found my way to a kickboxing class. I was drawn to the sport by an instinct to fight, to learn to defend myself. After a few years I progressed into to Kuk Sool Won (Korean Martial Arts).

In 2012, I tried Paragliding in the Alps for the first time, and that was where I truly fell in love. My life quickly started to be all about paragliding. I finally felt like I belonged somewhere and I was a part of something bigger. With Paragliding, I found a community of people that understood what I felt when I was up in the air. I loved the rush, I loved to throw myself towards the ground and somehow I loved the feeling that I had nothing to lose.

Still, something was missing. Paragliding is a sport that is very male-dominated and I wanted a chance to connect with other women as well, to see if there were other communities out there, other women who were drawn to the same kinds of sports.  This was how I found SheShreds.co, and I quickly became immersed in the supportive group of women I met as an ambassador. 

In 2019 I finally made it to my first SheShreds Jamboree, and there it was that I finally found my home, and my community.

More Than Just a Physical Outlet

With my childhood background, sports for me turned out to be more than just a fun activity. I had been battling bulimia for years, and when I started sports I just added a different compensating behaviour. I never realized that my passion for my sports was wrapped up in my desire to run from my past.

In 2019, I was diagnosed with PTSD. Through that diagnosis, I learned that my sport behaviour is a coping mechanism. Even as my sports saved my life, they put me in very dangerous situations. I lived on the edge and felt like I had nothing to lose. I was self-destructive and oblivious to that fact. I needed help to see that I was worth so much more than the punitive parent voice in my head made me believe. I realized that I love my sport, and I would need to do it safely so that I could do it for many, many more years.

Each of us is drawn to our sports for a different reason, but there’s an underlying thread that connects us all, and that is the fact that our sports help us, to cope, to find joy, to live life to the fullest. And beneath it all, there are many of us struggling with mental health. I believe strongly that we should talk about that more openly. It’s OK to not be OK and it’s OK to ask help.

The Future of SheShreds.co

In 2020 I took over the leadership and ownership of SheShreds.co from our founder Gina Duffy. This was not only a big honor, but also a dream come true. In the past, I had talked with Gina and Tony about how to grow SheShreds.co in the EU, but I did not imagine 2020 bringing the opportunity to become the CEO of the company to my doorstep. It was incredibly exciting but that also raised the question; what does the future hold?

Our aim at SheShreds.co is to create a world where girls and women never have to fear being the best version of themselves. Ever. At its heart, SheShreds.co is not about the sports but about the athletes. We will give our athletes a platform to stand on and a community to lift them up and help them grow.

SheShreds.co is there throughout each athlete’s journey; whether she’s just discovering her passion for her sport, or pushing to reach the top, embarking on her journey to embrace her inner beauty, or discovering that fearless woman who has lived inside of her all along.  We want to give every girl the chance to find her fearless soul, to follow her dreams in her sports, and to provide her with a support system that cheers her on and scoops her up when she falls.

With everything we do we drive towards our mission to get more girls into action and extreme sports, to break down barriers and push back against restrictive stereotypes.

I know what it feels like to grow up without the shelter of a support system.
I know what it feels like to grow up chasing a dream that no one understands. 

I also know how it feels to be a part of a movement. To experience that mind-blowing moment when you do find your community, your family, your support system, and your home. 

Now it’s my turn. I am ready to open our home to all of the women and girls who feel alone in their sports. I am ready to offer the same warm welcome that I once found in SheShreds.co and I can’t wait!