CycleLifeHQ's vision to make cycling better for everyone means different things to different people.
For me it is about inclusiveness. It is about local and global tribes of people who like riding their bikes. And it is about doubling the value of the industry over the next decade so more people can do what they love for a living .
About 30 seconds after I met Angelina Russo I knew there was someone else on this journey with us. And she was right here in downtown Canberra :)
We are fortunate that Angelina has agreed to become a CycleLifeHQ Ambassador. We look forward to her updates and to helping her create a prosperous thriving bike business.
Angelina is an avid cyclist who has explored unique sights and sounds all around the world by bike.
She wanted to encourage other women to experience the delight of cycling but had to be realistic – cycling can have its challenges.
She had spent a lot of time riding in big cities, so she knew women could often feel vulnerable riding at night. So she designed a range of merino activewear that included reflective yarns to improve visibility.
Merino has high thermal and antimicrobial properties. It doesn’t need to be ironed, can be washed in the machine and always looks good. In fact, it is the perfect material for activewear.
“Cycling is a great way to explore unique parts of the world be it your own community or overseas. I was constantly frustrated that I couldn’t get clothing that I felt comfortable wearing and looked great," Angelina says.
"Lycra is perfect for road cycling –but most of my cycling is commuting or for leisure and I wanted something that I could wear on and off the bike."
From humble beginnings to cycle clothing queen
Angelina started designing and hand making her clothing range in 2011 when she founded Culture Cycle.
After a year testing out her ideas and selling through CycleStyle and Etsy, she set up her own online store. She expanded her pieces from accessories to a full-blown range of cycle wear - Culture Cycle.
In 2015 she decided to take it up a notch. She invested into materials and product development in preparation for a range.
This research has now been completed. Angelina's efforts were recognised where she won first prize at the Australian Wool Fashion Award.
It took almost 18 months to develop the four looks that she submitted to the Australian Wool Fashion Awards:
Overcoming growth challenges
Angelina is now trying to expand her business by scaling from handmade to short run production.
"I am looking for thought leaders and leaders and influencers in the sectors of tourism, health, manufacturing, fashion, communications and the allied bike industries who are interested in partnering in this space," she says.
"Together I am searching for funding to put together a short production in collaboration with CSIRO's fibre mills in Geelong and Tablelands Merino Tablelands Merino who are the largest suppliers of sub 16.5 micron wool in the world."
Angelina recognises that scale is a big issue for micro-enterprises.
The processes and tools from moving to short run production are defined but it is clear that there needs to be an injection of funds to move to the next level.
However, she isn’t perturbed.
Angelina has reached out to like-minded businesses around the world (including me:)) to seek advice and guidance.
Inspiration turns up in unlikely places
“I was sitting in a coffee shop with a friend who is a retired Aerospace Engineer and we were talking about the idea of making Kevlar socks.
"Over the next few months I developed some on my 1890s sock machine and started to sell them online as bulletproof cycle socks. I also created a Kickstarter campaign, The Cyclists’ Pair to test the market and get feedback.
"While I didn’t reach my funding goal they have since gone off and now I’m struggling to keep up with the orders!" she said.