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Two years ago, Susan Stokhof created Le Vélo, an online boutique that specializes in stylish bicycle accessories like colorful baskets and panniers, rain capes with bold geometric designs, and more.
One morning, after Susan Stokhof had biked to work, as a business analyst for the provincial government in Victoria, BC, she pulled down her rain pants and her jeans came down with them, thankfully, her male colleague, whom she shared her office with was not there. That embarrassing moment inspired Susan to explore more stylish options for people – especially women – cycling around town without Spandex or bulky rain pants.
“There’s a time and place for Spandex for exercise,” said Susan. “Something like 60 per cent of the people who bike to work have an under 3-mile (5 kilometer) commute and they put on Spandex for that short commute. I’m really trying to bring sexy back to cycling.”
Thus, about two years ago, Susan created Le Vélo, an online boutique that specializes in stylish bicycle accessories like colorful baskets and panniers, rain capes with bold geometric designs, and more. Most of the products Le Vélo carries are tailored to women, although it does offer some unisex products. “My focus is trying to get more women out on the streets on their bikes,” she explained. “I get emails all the time from women saying ‘I had no idea I could wear high heels and a dress on a bike.’ Bit by bit, we’re bringing this cycling normalcy to the west coast and hopefully other parts of Canada.”
Susan has always enjoyed bicycling, but credits her Dutch husband with encouraging her to use it as a primary mode of transportation. “The Dutch embrace the bicycle as a regular part of daily life,” she said. “We went six years without a car and did everything from carting our Labrador and grocery shopping on a bike. Especially living in the city, getting around by bike is faster than walking, and it’s a way that I can connect with my community.”
The couple has four bikes each (including a touring bike her husband built for her and a 53-year-old vintage Dutch bike that Susan only rides on sunny days), but Susan plans to donate one to Bicycles for Humanity. She also gives back to the local community with urban cycling events like the Tweed Ride and pop-up shops to demonstrate her products. “It’s a grassroots way for me to connect with my community,” she said. “It’s a really great place to show people how you can wear your dress, your suit and be on a bike at the same time.”