We are so pleased to announce the return of the Straw Hat Bike Helmet. When we started carrying this unique helmet in our shop at the beginning of last year, we had no idea if anyone would even like it, much less want to buy it.
You see, so much of the bike industry is focused on working out and going faster faster faster. Sometimes I wonder if there is a place for those of us who just want to wear a great dress and go for a ride on a beautiful trail. It can be pretty lonely when you're surrounded by a sea of carbon fiber components and high-performance Lycra!
And that is why I started Bike Pretty nearly four years ago. I was hoping to find a community of lovely people who choose style over speed.
At first only a few people would read my blog every day. I think most of my traffic probably came from my mom. Little by little I started to find more people who were just as interested in say, biking in heels, wearing a long dress, or simply appreciating the beauty of life on a bike.
But the most common request by far was "Where can I find a cute bike helmet?" Which makes perfect sense. After taking the time to dress for our destination, it's a shame to spoil the effect with the same old, super sporty lid that looks more like an alien carapace than an outfit-enhancing accessory.
Yet that's what most of the bike helmets available look like. Occasionally you'll find vented versions that designers try to gussy up with special finishes and floral appliqués, but somehow that just makes them worse, calling attention to how cute they aren't.
Fortunately I love scouring the deep recesses of the internet to find creative solutions to my outfit dilemmas. It took nearly a year of searching but I eventually found the original straw hat helmet and we started selling it in the shop. Unfortunately, this was in November, the worst time of year to sell a bike helmet.
Or so we thought. Our first shipment sold out and we were back-ordered until springtime. So we doubled the size of our previous order, which sold out again! Then we doubled the size of that order. It was a good thing too because we had just enough to make it through the end of the summer before our supply completely dried up.
Yes, it was a dark day when we learned that we weren't going to be able to get any more straw hat bike helmets from our supplier. Remember when I wrote that it took me a year of searching to find the straw hat helmet in the first place? How was I going to find a replacement? I also happened to be six months pregnant at the time with little energy to spare for my daily walk around the block, much less a whole product development cycle.
It was time to get creative. Once again my love of research saved the day. We found an incredible millinery studio that was practically in our backyard. Being able to visit their factory was like entering a museum devoted to bygone machinery. Mixed in with the modern sewing machines were old wrought iron devices, complete with Beaux Arts curlicues, still in use and whirring away.
But even better than the cool vintage equipment was the chance to work with an incredible pair of designers who know everything about making hats and had no fear about our crazy dream to fit a classic straw hat over a bicycle helmet.
After nearly eight months of prototyping, testing, scrapping ideas, and starting the process all over again, we finally have our new and improved Straw Hat Bike Helmet available for pre-order! Why did it take so long? Well since we were bringing the product under our own management--rather than just ordering from a catalog as we had been previously doing--we wanted to make improvements based on feedback from our wonderful customers.
We improved comfort with a better fit and a lighter weight. We added a sturdier brim that holds its shape. We found a refined weave reminiscent of the beautiful vintage hats that inspired us. And we needed to be able to consistently produce all these great features in quantity. It's one thing for an artisan to make a beautiful one-off piece. It takes a lot more skill (and trial and error) to keep the same quality level during mass production.
And here we are, just in time for summer, launching our better than ever version of the Straw Hat Bike Helmet. We're incredibly proud of it and super humbled to have the support and patience of all the Bike Pretty readers who stayed with us as we worked. Finally we have a great helmet that is as fantastic as you are. Thanks for sticking with us!