INTRODUCING, XYLENA HOPPEN.
I had the absolute pleasure to sit down and re-connect with my friend, Xylena Hoppen. A professional mountain biker, social media idol, fashion enthusiast, songwriter, and on some occasions, a mosh pitter; You can find Xylena having the time of her life anywhere and everywhere.
As her social media platform continues to grow and her professional races begin to take place all over the world, I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to catch up as she takes a quick break from the craziness. However, with a warm, familiar energy that I know too well, Xylena was eager to message back and delighted to meet up.
After showing Xylena around SEED People's Market for the first time and giving her some time to explore on her very own, we made our way outside of the marketplace for a well-needed catch-up on life. Sipping on freshly-made Arnold Palmers, we soon dove into an engaging conversation that went past both of our initial schedules. We went back and forth about the fine details of her fashion, as well as her personal growth with biking, art, and music. From silhouetting layers to handling concussions, we discussed it all. So sit back, sip on your own drink, and enjoy the debut of Unique Styles, Untold Stories.
"connect those pieces together into a puzzle."
Xylena, welcome and thank you for joining me today. I’ve known you for about 8 years since high school and even back when we were coworkers. A lot has happened since then and I’ve always been stoked to see your growth as a person and within your career. For those who don’t know you, feel free to talk about what you do on a day-to-day.
Yeah! It’s a mix of a lot of things. I mainly mountain bike; It’s my passion, my hobby, and also my job, my full-time gig. I’m very thankful to do such a thing. With mountain biking comes a big push with content creating and being able to connect on a personal level. I’m so thankful that I have the freedom to showcase my creativity through filming, being able to travel, and experiencing different cultures and personalities from all lengths of the world, all from bikes.
On the side, I love fashion, art, and music. Those are really big hobbies of mine that I want to be able to dive deeper alongside mountain biking, and try to connect those pieces together into a puzzle.
And try to balance it all.
Feel free to describe your fashion and what trends, fabrics, and textures you’ve gravitated towards as of late.
I would like to categorize my fashion as a Modern-Granola-Hippy-Rockstar. I love funky patterns. I push my fashion towards the decades of the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s. I just love really unique pieces and being able to wear them on a day-to-day basis without any restrictions. I love being able to move around and be comfortable. There are certain times of the day when I have to answer emails and make (video) edits.
With fashion comes a creative outlet and being able to express your personality with clothing. I do like to stick out like a sore thumb in public and inspire other people to wear certain clothing.
"A world that is a tomorrow for the next generation."
Here at SEED, we’re big on supporting brands and small businesses that are eco-minded and sustainably-driven. Feel free to elaborate more on how you like to support small businesses and try your best to shop sustainably.
It’s a huge aspect for me! I feel like our generation of consumers is more open-minded about being eco-friendly, making sure we have a world that is a tomorrow for the next generation.
I also love supporting small businesses granted times that they might be higher priced, but you’re paying for the price for the quality of the product, where it’s being processed, and the materials used. Being able to support that type of industry is super awesome and just being able to help the “smaller guy”, you know?
"Flourishing into the flower that I am now."
What has the evolution of your fashion been like for the past five years?
Within the past five years, I always lean toward the thrift-end. A few years ago, I was into the really baggy jeans and baggy-loose dude shirts, and kind of still do to this day.
Nowadays, there are so many types of second-hand stores and more variety of second-hand stuff, allowing me to find so many unique pieces. That’s why my style has evolved so much because of how much is out there.
I have to say, over the past five years, there has also been a lot of personal growth, and when you find confidence within yourself, you also show that with what you wear. Flourishing into the flower that I am now, I’m continuing to experiment with different styles and get inspiration from social media.
It’s super important to have that synergy between our personality and who we are, and our fashion. And in some cases, the evolution of our fashion is really the evolution of ourself as well.
“Yeah, I’m down for a good time.”
How would your friends and family describe you?
They would say that I’m very outgoing, adventurous, and down to having a good time. For example, the majority of concerts that I’ve been to are from artists I’ve never really heard of before. They’re dirt-cheap tickets and I’m always like, “Yeah, I’m down for a good time”, listening to some live music, and being inspired by that artist.
Any cool bands you’ve seen recently?
The Last Dinousars! They’re very surf punk/alternative.
"The fact that I made it myself, I have so much more passion for it."
I’ve heard that music making is a passion project of yours. Feel free to talk more about that.
I love all kinds of music genres from Reggae to alternative rock to deep house, depending on the mood. I heard that if you listen to a lot of genres, you should try to make music yourself. So I just started and picked it up by watching friends and family doing it. I have a keyboard and play bass and electric guitar too. It’s a little bit different with the frets and the spacing. Regardless, it’s been a lot of fun and I just released my first song! I definitely want to dive more into it because it’s fun to create your own stuff from music to art to even candlemaking. The fact that I made it myself, I have so much more passion for it.
"You don’t really see that in Orange County and especially in the outdoor industry."
You spent some time at SEED People's Market and did some personal shopping. What are your thoughts?
Oh, I love it! There’s so much to see. I like the vast variety of goods from home decor to camping gear to apparel, working with eco-friendly brands like Patagonia and Vuori. There’s literally something for everyone. You don’t really see that in Orange County and especially in the outdoor industry. It’s so cool that you guys have this little pocket in this area, and to do what you do. I’ll definitely come back more often!
"sustainability and durability."
With so many brands out there, finding the right one seems like finding a needle in a haystack. What values do you personally seek in a brand?
I’m really big into sustainability and durability. Finding brands that are more eco-conscious. I also love supporting smaller brands and trying to cut down from the main consumer to big brands that don’t do a whole lot for the ecosystem.
"The quality of the threads is pretty awesome."
What goods at SEED spoke to you during your visit?
One of the pieces I got was the vibrant, blue Belle Full Length Chino pants from Thrills. Definitely more of an ‘80s-inspired look being high-waisted and the way it silhouettes. I do have long legs and a short torso, so it fits perfectly.
The other piece was the Vintage Denim Work Jacket from Pendleton. Again, I love the silhouette of it and there’s a longer length to it. The quality of the threads is pretty awesome. I’m really big into that; Wearing things that are comfortable, but also durable at the same time. Overall, I just love supporting brands that are really into being eco-friendly.
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"A subculture driven lifestyle clothing & fashion brand from Byron Bay creating leading vintage inspired fashion and mens & womens streetwear with a sustainable future front of mind."SHOP FULL COLLECTION
"Pendleton is a family-owned company established in 1863 and headquartered in Portland, Oregon. For more than 100 years, we’ve been weaving world-class woolens in our two Pacific Northwest mills."SHOP FULL COLLECTION
"the art of silhouetting."
How do you like to layer your outfits? Let’s talk about the outfit you’re currently wearing.
Yes! Another thing I find cool about fashion is, yet again, the art of silhouetting. The different lengths and materials in clothing can go a long way. I’m currently wearing a very laced, brown piece, having yarn around the neckline and the wrists. It’s fun to be able to adjust certain lengths. My jacket is also thrifted and blends well with the earthy tones of the pants I’m wearing. These pants are super wide-leg and have pieces of croshade. Overall, you can wear so many things in so many ways.
How is your closet looking?
It’s organized chaos, the best way to explain it.
"I need my apparel to be durable."
What do you normally wear while biking and what do you typically look for in those pieces?
I want to be able to wear things that are more comfortable and durable. I’m currently sponsored by Fox Racing and they make some of the top-of-the-line products for mountain biking. For the number of times I have hit the floor and for products to tear, I need my apparel to be durable. A week ago, I slid on my knee pretty badly. Luckily, I was wearing a pair of Fox downhill pants and there was not even a tear.
That fall could’ve been so much worse if you were wearing the wrong equipment.
Exactly. For the number of times, I’ve hit the floor or slammed into a tree…that’s a big thing, I want to make sure that the threads don’t rip.
"being able to inspire others to ride."
What’s your biggest victory with mountain biking?
A big thing for me is inspiring others. That’s a big victory for me. I’ve had fans from social media reach out to me saying things like, “Thank you so much. I never knew that mountain biking was as cool as it is until I saw your platform. It’s given me a love for something I never thought I’d have,” and things like, “Not only is mountain biking a great way to be outdoors and get a great workout in; The community itself is so welcoming and I never knew there was such a thing.”
And that is such a huge thing for me, being able to inspire others to ride.
"Mental health and mountain biking go so well together."
What’s your favorite phrase about mountain biking?
I always like to say, “Yeah, I mountain bike. It's the under-rated and drug-free antidepressant. The only symptom you have is if you crash your bike!” Mountain biking really helps with depression. Mental health and mountain biking go so well together. The fact that it’s helping others get out of their life funks and I was able to inspire them to do such a thing, is pretty life-changing.
"pushing the extremes for the sport itself."
I couldn’t help but notice, that some of your most-viewed videos on social media are ironically you crashing. Feel free to talk about this aspect of mountain biking.
There’s been a lot of crashes on the bike, but it’s part of the sport. If you’re not falling, you’re not trying hard enough is something I like to say. There have been some crashes that have been recorded, but those ones aren’t even my worst. There have been times when it could’ve been life-threatening for me. But you have to sometimes push your limits as a rider in order to do well in certain events. It’s even crazy to see on the women’s side of things; The expansion of more female riders pushing the extremes for the sport itself.
Can you talk about your gnarliest crash to date?
One of the biggest ones I’ve had was in Big Sky, Montana where I miscalculated a drop, pretty much did a front flip, and landed on the back of my head. I was very concussed and I wasn’t able to ride my bike for three months.
"Not being able to cope with depression through one of my passions was really hard."
What was it like being out of action during those three months?
It sucked. The fact that my day-to-day life took such a huge toll from this concussion. For example, I love shopping and being in a store for hours on end. But at the time, I would try to go into a shop and my body would just shut down and have no energy. I would also get super overwhelmed by the vibrant colors, the screeching noises from the (clothing) racks, and the background music playing. It was just a lot, all at once.
Also, my attention span would be like a squirrel. I would try to pay attention to what someone was saying to me, but all I could see is their mouth moving and not being able to conjugate what they were saying.
It also sucked not being able to mountain bike as it’s one of my ways to get out of the void and clear my mind. What’s great about mountain biking is that you’re focusing on what’s in front of you. And not being able to have decompression from life itself really sucked. During those months, I would have to say I was very depressed. Not being able to cope with depression through one of my passions was really hard. It was definitely a struggle for me.
I feel like the concussion not only took away something you love dearest in mountain biking, but also things you depend on outside of biking like connecting with others and shopping.
Yeah, it definitely was a learning curve for me. That’s why it’s such a huge thing in mountain biking to wear the right protective gear. The helmet that I was wearing was a full-face Rampage Helmet from Fox and was a top-tier product. Even though helmets can be expensive, your head is priceless and it cannot be replaced. If it wasn’t for that helmet, I would’ve been in really big trouble.
"You need to be confident in yourself to be yourself."
Feel free to talk about how mountain biking has given you the confidence to live your day-to-day.
Mountain biking has definitely given me confidence which resonates in my personal life. Back in middle school and high school, I didn’t really have a whole lot of confidence in myself.
Even with fashion, for example, I would say, “Oh, I couldn’t wear that. That’s too much out there,” and feel like there would be too many eyes. But now, I’m like, “Well, F that. I’m going to wear what I want to wear.” It’s interesting how confidence can go so far. Not only with fashion, but with creating relationships with others and even going into a job.
You need to be confident in yourself to be yourself. That’s a big thing for me and I have to thank mountain biking to have that mentality. Being able to conquer the big things and little things in life. From going down a hill to going up a technical climb, and just believing in yourself.
"individuality and personality."
Do you have any advice for someone who wants to start out and might want to get to where you are today?
Especially with what I do now in content creation for mountain biking, my biggest advice is to be true to who you are as a person. A lot of brands look for individuality and personality. If you’re not really outgoing, try to get outside your comfort zone because mountain biking can be a very social realm.
If you’re just getting started with mountain biking, just get out there. I would take people out for the first time on a super easy cruise and they would say things like, “Oh my god. I’m so hooked.”
"They’re life-long memories that I can forever keep in my heart."
Can you tell me a bada** story from mountain biking?
There was a trip I went on for mountain biking during the Summer of 2020. A group of friends and I were on a road trip, going up to Whitefish, Montana which is near Glacier National Park. I highly recommend going there; It’s pretty much the westernized version of The Alps. There are a lot of cool hiking routes and these beautiful ice-water lakes.
We went on a hiking route during one of our rest days and we saw these two mountain goats a few feet away from us. My friends moved along, but I wanted to stop and take a video. Little did I know, they were fighting each other and one of them decided to bolt at me. I freaked out and threw my Hydroflask toward it, and ran the other way. If you get pinned by one of those things, it can end really badly. I have it fully on video.
You have to send me that.
It was the funniest, yet most terrifying thing that has happened to me. But that’s the best thing about these trips; They’re life-long memories that I can forever keep in my heart.
Absolutely. When we pursue the things we love, we get life-long memories to keep and some bada** stories to tell. From biking all over the world to fighting off some mountain goats. And to conclude our chat, just keep pursuing what you love, Xylena. I'm sure we'll catch up soon and have more stories to tell!
Director, Writer, & Editor