Being a Cycling Unicorn in Seemingly Disparate Worlds
In honor of Women’s History Month, and Women Led Wednesday, and turning 50 ~ I will be sharing a series this month highlighting women who have influenced and inspired me, and what being a woman means to me as a small business owner. Although turning 50 comes with a lot of reflection, anxiety, and general freaking out ~ it is most definitely a milestone to be celebrated and shared. With all of the challenges women face in 2021, I do believe it is a great time to be a woman.
Last week as I sat at my Juki making bicycle bags, I was listening to a new to me podcast Dior Talks. As I sat there sewing, and listening, all the disparate pieces of my past at once came together forming the perfect conglomeration.
To explain this, we need to go back a bit. As long as I can remember, there have been three things that held my deep interest and have led me down seeminly distinct and different paths. Cycling. Art & Design. Fashion/Style.
When I worked at SFMOMA. Opening night of Glamour exhibition.
Art & Design, like cycling, has always been something that interested me ~ often without me really thinking about it. It began to take center stage for me in college and informed my professional career for many years. One of the highlights of my career was working on a Design/Fashion exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (pictured above); in retrospect this was exactly where I was meant to be. My love for art is something I never walked away from, even when I left my career working in museums. Like cycling, my love and appreciation for art and design is quite simply ~ a part of me.
Fashion and Style is a bit less of a direct path for me. Fashion wasn’t something I pursued, and as a cycling business ~ the fashion world seemed pretty far away from what I was doing. The 'art & design' me has always loved couture fashion from an artistic design viewpoint. There are few things I love more than watching a good fashion show, or fashion documentary. I find high fashion energizing, inspiring, and the respect I have for the people who create the clothing is hard to express. What I love about fashion is how it can transform, how even in the highest couture there is always something we all can take away for our every day. I remember once my grandfather saying that by wearing a suit to work every day he was showing the respect and dignity to his job that it gave him (or something to that effect); I was young and the importance of that had a profound effect on me. You don’t have to have a lot, but the things you have and how you present yourself matters.
Working on The Social with Kathryn at Winsome Goods Studio.
To expand on the fashion part, I knew I wanted to make timeless, but fashionable bicycle bags. Because that was what I wanted, and was not seeing. This desire led me to find Kathryn at Winsome Goods, who helped me get on my feet with our first two bag collections, and many other women who have their own fashion brands, or are involved in fashion. At first I felt like I didn’t belong in this world. They all went to school for fashion, or had been in it for many years, and here I was this bicycle bag girl involved in the ‘fashion world’. It felt awkward, until I realized I belonged, and that this world was one äventyr belonged in, just like the ‘cycling world’. And one of the things I love most about this ‘fashion world’, is that everyone I have met is a woman AND has been completely supportive of me on this journey. These amazing women kept me going when I wanted to quit, kept moving me forward, and made me feel like I belonged.
Shaping Fashion Ethical Marketplace 2019. 'Do I belong here?' Yes, yes I do!
When I began working on äventyr I found myself existing loosely on these three different planes, often wondering why I had to be what felt like a ‘unicorn’ in these worlds that felt very disparate and where everyone else had picked one direct path. My amalgamation seemed destined, despite my resistance, and I have struggled with it until last week when I sat down at my sewing machine and hit play on a new-to-me podcast that frankly I wondered why I was bothering to listen to. I quickly realized my path was more destiny than disjointed.
My happy place.
Over the last year, the last four years really, I have been unknowingly connecting the dots of my life. My frequent question to myself has been, how do I combine my deep interests, my experiences, and my business to be impactful, to make a difference? I have felt that making, and selling, bicycle bags is so much more than just about ‘the thing’. For me, the products I design for äventyr, and the messages I share through them, is an expression of who I am and the things I believe in.
"Women should be able to do and be whatever they want and are. Absolutely. But… I don’t think that means that we should just uncritically accept things that men design for us. I think it is important to bring a critical gaze and a level of consciousness to what we spend our money on. Because money ultimately is power and women can in fact use their wealth to make change. I mean we are now all witnessing a world run amok as a result of toxic masculinity and our inhumane treatment of other creatures and the world. And if we are going to survive as a species… it will require all of us to bring a more critical gaze to what we do… How about thinking about what you are saying through your body and the clothes you select to the world about what you believe and what you think is important.” ~Judy Chicago
Listening to Judy Chicago speak on the Dior Talks Podcast quite simply blew my mind. I have mixed emotions about my first feminist art history class ~ mixed because I didn't have it until graduate school (that makes me SO angry that it took that long), and thankful because I finally had this important class in graduate school (thank you M.E. Warlick!). So I was very aware of Judy Chicago. However, I never quite listened to her, or appreciated her, like I should have. I know how much I am a product of the larger (often negative influences of the patriarchy) and how hard I have to fight against these for my own liberation.
And now, Judy has put everything into perspective for me; very much making me feel validated in what I am trying to do. Judy talked so eloquently about the importance of fashion, art, women ~ combining it all into a handbag! Judy gave me focus in realizing my pillars, which I share through what I do. I feel proud to say my pillars are: Women. Art, Design, Fashion. Cycling (Mindy & Body). It feels really good to be here now, and realize this was exactly where I needed to be all along. ~DeAnn
Listen to the Dior Talks Judy Chicago Episode: here.
**Listen to Maria Grazia Chiuri on Dior Talks: here
Some of the most inspiring Fashion 'shows' I've been watching: here.
One of my favorite podcasts ~ The Great Women Artists: here. (thanks to Katy Hessel for introducing me to the Dior Talks Podcast!).
Our latest Design Studio Playlist includes two songs from the FW 2021 Prada Shows. Listen here.
My journey: here.