When getting dressed for the office in the morning already feels like too much work the thought of needing to do it twice can be a little off-putting. You put on your riding attire for the commute into work and ready a second “office appropriate” outfit for when you arrive. Until we learn the magicians secret for the quick-change act it’s a hassle that many of us don’t feel we have the energy or time to deal with. The reality is you are likely able to ride in whatever clothes you wear to work.
For Karen, creator of Bikie Girl Bloomers, the development of a line of clothing for cycling comfortably to work without needing to change when she arrived has turned into a representation of several transitions in her life: the transition from being primarily a weekend recreational cyclist on a road bike to life as a daily commuter and urban cyclist on a Dutch bike (she now commutes on a Gazelle Tour Populaire), a transition from limiting her clothing to sedate solids to embracing my love of bright colors and fun prints, and the realization that she has become a bikevangelist.
We caught up with Karen and asked her a few questions so we could get to know the story behind Bike Girl Bloomers a bit better. Thanks Karen!
MM: How long has Bikie Girl Bloomers been in business?
BGB: I decided to take the plunge in 2012, and our first styles came out in Spring of 2013.
MM: How did Bikie Girl Bloomers get started?
BGB: I realized I was only commuting by bike a couple times a week, and started taking a hard look at what kept me from biking to work every day. I made two key realizations: (1) that I needed to re-think my bike (I had only a road bike back then; decided to try riding more upright on a hybrid bike, and that made a big difference), and (2) that I needed to be honest about how clothing options affected my decision to bike to work, and I’m too lazy to change my clothes just for the bike ride. I knew that I found biking in skirts and dresses much more comfortable than biking in pants, yet I wanted something comfortable to wear underneath. I tried using conventional bike shorts, yoga shorts, shapewear, as well as skorts, but none of these was comfortable for me. I wanted a lightweight, non-binding short that I could leave on all day, and I wanted it to look cute and fun when my skirt blew up. I reached out to a friend who has worked in the garment industry for many years, and she convinced me I could do this. Maria introduced me to a designer, a pattern-maker, a sewer, etc., and she has been my consultant and production manager ever since.
MM: Where is Bikie Girl Bloomers based?
BGB: We are based here in Los Angeles. I ship product out of the same office in the Wilshire Business District where I practice patent law.
Karen wearing Hitchable Flounce Skirt, the Bikie Girl Bloomers Drape Neck Top, and Red Hot Aqua Dot Bloomers.
MM: Can you tell us a bit about the range of products you make?
BGB: We started with Bloomers and our patented Hitchable Flounce Skirt, and have since added a Drape Neck Top, the shorter Pettipants, and specially-tailored plus size Bloomers and Skirts. All of our skirts come with our patented removable SkitchTM, which allows you to hitch up the skirt while riding, show off a peek of the cute bloomers underneath, and then drop it out of sight when you’re ready to let the skirt down.
MM: Are they made locally?
BGB: Yes! All of the sewing is done in the L.A. garment district, just 15 minutes from my home. Even the fabrics are made locally.
MM: What are your favourite types of fabrics to use?
BGB: As much as I love the beautiful and varied prints of the Spandex shorts, my favorite fabric is the Modal blend we use for the skirts and tops. It feels super soft, drapes nicely, and I love that I can look dressed up while being as comfy as if I were in my pajamas!
MM: Do you have a favourite pattern yourself?
BGB: Each print is a favorite on a different day, depending on my mood, but the Crazy Daisy print is probably the one I turn to most often. I also love the way this print looks when worn on its own.
MM: Do your products appeal to those who aren’t bicycle commuters?
BGB: A pleasant surprise has been discovering all the other activities for which our line is well-suited. The shorts have been loved by dancers, hikers, yoginis, golfers, and tennis players. Both the skirt and the bloomers have been popular with square dancers and swing dancers, who love the way the skirt twirls, and being able to flash the cute bloomers as they move around the dance floor. I’ve found them to work well for swimming, too. One customer wore her Crazy Daisy Bloomers to a wedding held on Puget Sound, where the wedding party jumped into the water to celebrate.
My favorite conversion story is that of my friend Linda, who told me she was going to get a bike and start biking to work, just so she could wear an outfit from Bikie Girl Bloomers!
MM: Where do you find your inspiration?
BGB: Inspiration has never been something I’ve had to look for – it’s everywhere! I’m always noticing how my clothes feel when I’m on the bike, and how that changes when I visit different cities with different climates. I find the biggest challenge is to manage the many ideas I have for styles I would like to add to the collection. I don’t want to get ahead of myself. I try to remain realistic about growing this slowly and smartly.
MM: Bikie Girl Bloomers is participating in a few pop-up shops. Where can we find you next?
BGB: We were happy to participate in the Ride In Style Shops that popped up in New York in May and Chicago last week. We will be “popping up” as a Trunk Show in Los Angeles on Sunday afternoon, August 27th. Interested guests can message me here for address and directions.
MM: Do you have any advice for other entrepreneurs wanting to start a business?
BGB: Study up! I learned so much by reaching out to others with experience, and by reading everything I could get my hands on about the industry. Don’t try to do too much too quickly. The first production will be like a dress rehearsal: you will learn a lot that will guide the next run. Everything takes far more time and money than you would ever imagine, so prepare for that.
MM: Anything we can look forward to in 2017 from Bikie Girl Bloomers?
BGB: We just released our new Jeweltone Bloomers, and are currently working on an improved Pettipant using a specially-treated lace that will keep the legband in place (a challenge with shorter shorts). In development now is a longer version of the skirt, for those who prefer a just-below-the-knee length. We were so happy with the longer skirt developed for the plus size collection, which features a center seam and is cut on the bias, we decided to develop a similar version in the regular sizes. This will be a great skirt for the office.
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