Photos by Harleigh Cupp
At the age of 15, when most girls are thinking about school dances and social media, Emmi Cupp is building a bike. And building bikes seems to be a family affair. “The one who got me into motorcycles was my Dad, Jeremy Cupp,” she said. “All my life he’s been building bikes, going to shows and working in a machine shop. Everyone says I am a spitting image of him, and I’ve been around him and all his ‘bike buddies’ all my life.”
Emmi has been working in the shop with her dad for some time, starting with a small minibike build and later doing some leather work and smaller projects. Then her dad built a sidecar she calls his “fun bike,” which she helped him with. But then she got her first motorcycle, a 1958 T20 Triumph Tiger Cub, for Christmas – and she was hooked!
While Emmi’s been helping in the shop by sweeping floors and running a CNC machine, she also started creating her own shop-themed jewelry. “I’m notorious for making people little trinkets and gifts for birthdays and Christmas,” she said, “so I’d already made a lot of jewelry and wallets in the past. I just decided to go for it, and called the company Shop Girl Jewelry and Leatherworks, and I even opened my own Etsy shop. While business isn’t as good as I’d like, I don’t really mind because all I want to do in the shop these days is work on my bike.”
Not only is she working on her own bike build – and funding it with the money she makes from Shop Girl Jewelry – she also works part-time for her dad at LC Fabrications and LC Machine and Manufacturing. “My dad will program and set up the machine,” Emmi said, “and I will run it after school or on the weekends. We mostly get work for LC Machine now, making parts for companies like Lowbrow Customs and Hugh’s Handbuilt.”
And then there’s “Aunt Tiny,” her current bike build. “I’ve had more fun and learned more in the past few months than I ever did in my life,” Emmi told us. “Aunt Tiny, my bike, started out as a simple little project but has evolved into something that I think I want to do as long as I can. My plan for the future is to one day take over the business for my Dad (hopefully a long time from now) and keep building bikes.”
We asked what advice she had for other girls getting into bikes and shop life, and she had this to say: “Don’t let anyone get you down for not being the usual type of ‘shop rat.’ I’m no feminist, but I like to be respected and treated like I am able and know what I’m doing (assuming I do). And pray about it. That’s the best advice I think I’ve ever received. Just try it. And never stop doing what you love.”