A job is just a job, right? A work colleague just a work colleague?
If you think this, then you don't know VeloVixen and you haven't met Fran Whyte.
When Fran joined us in 2016 after a distinguished career with the police, little did any of us know how it would go. We knew she was an experienced and knowledgable cyclist - she even wore kit that she'd bought from us to her interview! But we weren't to know just how integral she would become.
Over the last six years, she has become the flywheel of the VeloVixen machine. In fact, if you're reading this then there's every chance that you'll have had some direct dealings with her.
Thousands of Vixens have benefitted from her wisdom, whether discussing which jacket will really work best for you, chatting at a show, resolving an exchange, riding with her, reading a blog by her, being cheered on at a muddy cyclocross event, or lapping up her innumerable posts and responses on the VV Facebook Group.
Our 4.9/5.0 rating as a company is due in no small part to her brilliant way of dealing with every customer as a human being.
Her no-nonsense, well-founded views have become the stuff of legend. Underlying it all is a passionate, deeply caring character with a true belief in what she does.
At the risk of paraphrasing Churchill, if there's anybody who has contributed more to helping a greater number of women get more from their cycling in recent years, we'd be astonished.
Below are just a few memories from our time together with Fran as part of the VV team:
Aside from her role as the ultimate ambassador for VeloVixen and women's cycling more broadly, there's also Fran the work mate and friend.
She's been a rock at the heart of the VV team, always supportive, dedicated and able to raise spirits when needed. And the echo of Fran's laugh through the warehouse will be sorely missed.
Yes, she has her flaws. Her inability to stay awake beyond 9pm, her obsessions with Monster Munch and cheese with apples, her physical aversion to indoor cycling, football and Excel spreadsheets, and her tendency to eat lunch at 11.30 are all quirks we've had to learn to live with.
But there's no question that without her we wouldn't have become the force in women's cycling that we are today. So many people - customers, team mates, investors, suppliers, bloggers, podcasters and more - have come see her as a friend, a trusted advisor, and synonymous with all the positivity VeloVixen espouses.
We've loved and learnt from her passions - for cyclocross, reading, exotic cycling destinations, coffee, big climbs, cold water swimming, cake, gin & chips, and her huge circle of family and friends.
As Fran moves on today (you'll soon find her managing the new Trek store in her home town of Bicester) we can only be thankful for everything she's brought to us over the years.
It's a day we kidded ourselves would never come, but it has.
Thank you, Franalina, for everything (and Dave, her amazing sidekick in life and cycling, for supporting her all the way!). It's been a ride and you will always be a VeloVixen to the core. xx