Inspiriational Women in Cycling: As Bold As Bike Clothing
I am ever-search for motivational women in the world of cycling. As well as the incredible athletes who encourage us to ride, inspiration also comes from women creating businesses that offer us something different - especially when it comes to gear to fill our kit rooms! Recently, I happened upon As Bold As, a young and growing women’s clothing brand, whilst on a work trip to London. If you’re looking for beautiful city wear, this is one to look at.
Struck by the strange desire to willingly want to wear high vis clothing, it was one of Joyce’s key pieces – The As Bright As High Vis Vest - that grabbed my attention. Keen to find out more about her the brand, we spoke recently to discuss her move from desk job to designer and entrepreneur!
As a woman who has step-changed from an engineering career to fully fledged brand founder and mother of two, Joyce Brereton is an inspiration for anyone looking to turn their passion into a career.
Your career began in engineering, so can you tell me about the journey you’ve taken to transition to designer and brand founder of As Bold As?
Making the decision to step away from a trusted career is massive, but once you set yourself out there and change pace, things start to happen. You meet so many new people and it’s mad how your life transforms once you make the decision – you feel more yourself and although it’s uncertain at times, my mantra is ‘keep the faith’.
I studied engineering but I’ve always been very creative; maths and art were my forte! When I was trying to figure out what I was going to do at college and looking at my career prospects, I decided against being a starving artist and went for engineering instead. I like the logic and the real world application of maths and deisign. The engineering roles I had did link to the things that matter to me like the environment, or had an element of creativity, such as the visual effects company I worked for. However, at the back of my mind I knew I wanted to run my own company. It took me time to find a scalable idea; I was looking for something I could grow. Then cycling came into my life.
Riding in and out of work everyday, I loved the commute as it’s the time I can truly switch off and get a real sense of freedom. Wishing to share that feeling, especially with other women, the idea grew. Coupled with the recognition that the cycling gear on offer to women was sub-standard, I started to make notes in my book of business ideas. A series of trial and error on the sewing machine lead me to the start of As Bold As.
Yours is the first high-vis item I’ve every wished to wear if I’m honest! What’s your favourite piece?
I think it would be the Drench Coat – it has a causal feel to it but it’s really functional. I’d wear it knocking around town, to a meeting or for coffee - you look like you’re still in stylish, smart clothing – it performs well but works on the bike of course. I get lovely feedback from women telling me it’s exactly what they wanted, which is great!
The high vis vest was a chance to go crazy with colour and I find it’s not just cyclists but also runners that use it too.
What are the biggest rewards that result from starting your own business?
The last two years have been a complete blast – from the personal development it has given me, the interesting challenges, a true feel good factor and the highs and lows – it’s all been amazing! Taking that leap of faith and persevering are the key things to making it happen.
What has been biggest challenge?
Getting the right people to make the product for me at the right price and quality – that took the guts of 9 months to find and I was searching all across eastern Europe and Italy. I thought it might be as easy as just Googling to find a supplier – not the case at all! At a point of desperation, I was given the right contact over in Portugal and having met with them in person, knew I’d found the one.
The second is finding the right sales channels. The feedback I get is incredible from both people and retailers that buy my product and there’s no better feeling. However deciding how to market and reach those people has been a huge trial and error. Unlike making financial models for windfarms, where everything is factual and measured, this is as far removed from that as can be! I love the learning though and there’s great satisfaction in it.
As well as owning and running a young business you also have a family and are a new mum – how do you manage the both?
I don’t know! (we laugh!) I was just away on a yoga weekend and we were talking about ‘the magic women’ – the one who has it all; she’s amazingly graceful, totally fit, a great mother and aces her career – hilarious! That is one high bar to set. In reality I’ve muddled through it but I think doing something you’re really into helps. Being a second-time mum and having an easy baby make it easier too – he’s my little business partner.
I’d love to meet that woman if she exists! Family and friends are also essential to talk to and bounce around ideas and thoughts.
You’re from Dublin, Ireland’s capital city. For those of us that haven’t had the chanced to visit – can you tell us what it’s like as a cycling city?
Dublin has come a long way and cycling is becoming more mainstream – there’s definitely more acceptance that cyclists form part of the urban mix. The speed at which you can get across the city is amazing and there’s no better way to get a sense of the city than on the bike. Outside of the centre, it’s a lovely setting on a bay with miles of road to pedal that hug the shore. There will be a purpose built cycle highway too along this route so I can’t wait for that to be finished.
There is Howth Bay, which is a great challenge and it’s properly within the countryside, or Witlow has the mountains with steep climbs and is called the Garden of Ireland – it’s beautiful. Weather dependent, it’s really beautiful to explore.
To see the full range, check out As Bold As online.
About Catriona Sutherland
Catriona is an avid mountain biker from the UK, favouring endurance events. She has competed in various 24 hour, marathon and stage mountain bike races around the world including the Joberg2c, Epic Israel and the Strathpuffer. Currently working as freelance marketing consultant, mountain bike guide and serial adventurer, Catriona is happiest riding her bike, drinking coffee and planning her next trip!
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