We've partnered with TAP, the makers of a wearable strap that turns any surface into a one-handed keyboard. (Did you know you could win one?) Each week we'll be interviewing the people behind some of your favorite brands, people who are forging a unique path in their own field. This week we talk life on two wheels, how the scientific method applies to retail and why aesthetics matter with Melissa Davies of Bike Pretty.

Where did the idea for Bike Pretty come from?

I've always been pretty vain about how I dress. Ever since I was a little kid, I've insisted on wearing ridiculously fancy outfits in all sorts of situations that don’t really make sense. When I first started bike commuting I was living in Portland, so I was part of a really encouraging and supportive biking community, but I still stood out because my look was so femme. I remember going to a bike shop and looking for a helmet that could accommodate this elaborately braided hairstyle I was rocking in those days. The guy in the shop looked at me like I was crazy for thinking about something as trivial as my hairdo. Then he pointed to his shaved head and said, “When it comes to helmets you need to be practical.”

I thought, No. I’m not going to force myself into this narrow mold of what a bike rider is supposed to look like. There has to be something better out there.
 

Bike Pretty's Straw Hat Helmet

 

How would you define Bike Pretty's style?

We're inspired by vintage fashion, especially the craftsmanship and time-tested appeal of the silhouettes, but we filter everything through the modern lens of an active lifestyle. I don’t just mean that we’re exercising, but how we all have different roles that we fill throughout the day and our wardrobes need to keep up with that. I’m a big believer that our clothes should work for us and not the other way around! As Vivienne Westwood said, “You have a more interesting life if you wear impressive clothes.” 

 

What sets Bike Pretty apart from other shops? 

Of course, in the bike industry, very little attention is paid to aesthetics. Or rather, the style is overwhelmingly sporty; there's no room for warmth and beauty. At Bike Pretty, we want to seduce you into this gorgeous lifestyle that includes riding your bike with your wine and flowers and having a fabulous picnic.

 

What kind of technology do you use to run the shop? 

We're a husband-and-wife team and we had a baby six months ago. So being able to run our day-to-day business from our phones has been absolutely crucial. And it's not just answering customer emails right away; we also use the Asana app for project planning, Squarespace’s apps for e-commerce and blogging, and the must-have social media apps. In a pinch we'll even do product photography and photo editing on our phones. We are constantly looking for new tools to make running our business more efficient, and we're not afraid to experiment. 

 

How has technology changed retail?

It's tempting to talk about how e-commerce has revolutionized shopping — and it is important; I'm not just saying that because I run an online store — but it's still less than 8 percent of the retail market. What I find incredible are the everyday innovations that we take for granted. Like the miracle of standardized sizing. For thousands of years all clothing was custom made either at home or by a tailor. It wasn't until the U.S. military needed to outfit an enormous army during the Civil War that standardized sizing and ready-made clothes became common. And yet without that shift, the apparel industry would never have reached the scale it is today.

Bike Pretty's Picnic in the Park, Vintage Style

 

What are some of the ways in which Bike Pretty is staying ahead of the curve?

I come from a family of scientists, and even though my whole professional life has been in the fashion industry, I’ve tried to be guided by the scientific method. So we’re always looking for fast and cheap ways to test our ideas quickly. It’s important to kill your ideas as soon as possible. Like when I started, I just knew that I was going to sell beautiful leather bike bags of my own design to fashionable cyclists. That idea went practically nowhere. So we started over by looking at which of my blog posts were getting the most traffic and it turns out that the lack of fashionable helmets was a common problem. And just like that, we were in the helmet business. We’re lucky to have an amazing community around Bike Pretty. They’re always happy to tell us how they really feel.


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