Following a career of designing for various companies in the bike industry, Keely Shannon founded Ground Keeper in 2017 in Bellingham, WA to offer riders fun and custom printed fenders for their suspension forks. Today, the brand has grown into several other custom products, including frame protection decals and fully-custom decals for Stan's rims! We asked Keely a few questions about Ground Keeper's beginnings, progression, and its future ahead.
Stan's: Tell us a little about your background and how you started Ground Keeper
Keely Shannon: I grew up in Des Moines, IA with a strong passion for the bicycle and desire to move to the mountains. I landed at Specialized Bicycles in California right out of college and worked as a graphic designer, and later a marketing manager. After a few years, it was time to make a move. I started my freelance graphic design career and moved to Bellingham, WA with my now husband. After a few years of freelancing, I grew tired of building other brands and decided it was time to build my own. The pieces all came together when I blewout my knee in a mtb crash and suddenly had a lot of couch time in my future.
The GK seed was planted in the spring of 2017 after setting out to make a small run of custom printed fenders for a personal project and realizing no one could make what I wanted. Minimums for custom fenders were 100, colors were limited, and if you wanted intricate designs… forget about it. So I set out to fill this massive gap in the market and bring digitally printed fenders to all. After months of testing prototypes and printing capabilities, the first generation of Ground Keepers were born in December 2017. Since then, we expanded our product lineup to frame protection, decals, topcaps, and we’re producing 100% of our products at our shop in Bellingham.
Stan's: What's it like to run a bike-centric business in Bellingham, Washington?
Keely: As a mountain biker, it’s the best. As a mountain biker AND business owner, there’s no better place to live! It’s such a unique town where riders, trail builders, loggers, hikers, horse back riders, all magically get along and share trails. Coming from California, that’s a crazy concept. There are so many small and large bike-centric businesses in Bellingham and this community really knows how to rally behind local businesses. It’s so nice to grab a beer with other biz owners to compare hardships and discuss shared experiences. It also opens so many doors for fun collaborations. Breweries and coffee roasters collabing with bike manufacturers. Component companies partnering with artists, etc. At GK we love printing products for all of our friends and local brands, events and organizations.
Stan's: Can you tell us about some of the most exciting projects Ground Keeper has worked on, and a dream project it would like to tackle?
Keely: In the beginning days of Ground Keeper, anyone who wanted to order custom products had to volley files and emails back and forth with me until we had a print-ready file. It was such a time suck to prep everyone’s files because let’s face it, even seasoned graphic designers had a hard time sending me the right artwork. So the project that stands out most was working with our developer, Brian Sweat, to create our very own online customizer software. Now, anyone can jump on our website and use our preloaded patterns and images, or upload their own. It was such a massive project (and still proves to be) but is such a game changer for anyone who wants to make custom products but doesn’t have editing software like photoshop.
The online customizer has opened up so many possibilities for working with awesome brand partners like Stan’s to provide more riders with the ability to customize their bike.
Dream project… custom moto plastics kits!