Nic and Carla Richelle are relative newcomers to the industry. A team-driving, wife-and-wife duo, they turned to trucking two years ago to satisfy an itch to travel while still earning a living. They’re women of color, full-time drivers, parents of teenagers, and they’ve quickly built a following of over 20,000 subscribers on their YouTube channel, Nic & Carla.
On their channel, the couple post videos about the things they encounter on the road like bad weather driving, choosing a company for a truck lease, and why they gave up their 9-to-5 jobs. And in a Rolling Stone article about the recent rise of LGBTQIA+ individuals in trucking, Nic discussed how they use their platform to break down preconceived notions of the industry: “I am very proud that Carla and I are showing people a different side of the trucking lifestyle, a lesbian relationship, two black women operating, and being OK with making it in America.”
We caught up with Nic to learn more about her and Carla’s experiences as a team on the road.
How did you get into trucking?
The reason we got into trucking is that I’m an artist—a musician. The plan was to purchase a travel-trailer and become full-time RVers. Carla was going to manage me while I was doing my music. But I realized I didn’t really want to do the traveling and performing and we needed something more stable in terms of work and benefits. That’s when the idea of trucking came to mind because it would allow us to travel like we wanted while still making money.
What’s your role in the industry?
We’re lease operators now. The goal is to try and gain as much control in this industry as we can. The purpose of being a company driver was just to get familiar with driving. Once we got used to driving and dealing with loads, we were ready to take it to the next level.
What challenges (if any) have you faced in the industry as a married, lesbian couple?
We don’t ever face discrimination (at least to our faces). Honestly, it’s all about how you carry yourself. When we’re on the road, we tend to just focus on the mission. We get in and we get out, and we present ourselves in a way that’s respectful of others. And that’s reciprocated. It’s not like people can look at us and be like, “Oh that’s a lesbian couple.” We’re not holding hands or locking lips at truck stops. Any negative experiences we’ve had have been more because we’re Black and women.
Does the trucking industry provide opportunities for LGBTQIA+ individuals that other industries might not?
Yes, I definitely think it does. Discrimination has definitely gotten better, but if you look a certain way or you might not “pass” (for your chosen gender) then it’s harder. But when it comes to the trucking industry, as long as you’re healthy, can get behind the wheel, and deliver loads, that’s all they care about.
What do you do to stay safe on the road?
Besides focusing on our mission, we make sure we always communicate. For example, I let Carla know if I’m getting out of the truck and going to the restroom.
What resources do you turn to for community or help as truck drivers?
We do have our YouTube channel, which is a community in itself. There are a lot of subscribers who are veterans in the industry, and they give us a lot of advice. They’ve allowed us to learn faster. There are so many people who love opening up. If we didn’t have that, we would have probably joined a Facebook group.
What are your hopes for the future of the trucking industry?
That it will become more understanding. I feel like companies don’t quite realize what drivers do. The dispatchers, for example, wake up, go to work, go home, be with their families. When we’re on the road, trucking is our life 24-7. I’d like to see us get paid what we’re worth for everything, like all the things we do when we’re not driving.
Is there anything else you want to share?
Even though there are complaints about the industry, I do think it’s a great opportunity for minorities to travel and make money, more than they might in their local area. I also think trucking can be a great way out, depending on your situation.