A women's apparel brand growing women's cycling from the ground up

We’re pleased to be featuring women’s-only cycling brand Femme Velo in the CyclingTips Emporium.

As women’s cycling continues to grow, more and more brands are starting to focus on women’s-specific apparel and accessories. But what is still somewhat rare are the brands focussed solely on women’s apparel, with kit designed by women for women.

Today, we’re pleased to add another great women’s-specific brand to the CyclingTips Emporium: Femme Velo. We spoke to founder of the Montana based-brand, Nicole Adamson (middle, below left photo) to learn how the brand started and about the passion behind it.

“I started Femme Velo five years ago completely by circumstance”, Nicole said. “I never started out wanting to create a women’s cycling brand. Until then, cycling was just the group of cyclists dressed in colorful jerseys who rushed past my house every Sunday morning.

“I knew nothing about the sport, I hadn’t been on a bike since I was a teenager, and I wasn’t at all athletic. I was at a crossroads in my personal life and was looking for a little inspiration. It was in a sense those cyclists in their colorful jerseys who made me wonder and made me a little envious.

“One day I found myself walking into a bike shop and walking out with my first road bike. After that I was absolutely hooked. That experience of shopping for a bike and all the gear you need to ride it illuminated for me a couple of things that eventually led to the creation of Femme Velo.”

It’s a common theme among many small apparel brands, and women’s-specific brands in particular: a frustration with the current state of the market. Not happy with choosing from the limited selection of gear that’s available, a passionate individual (or group of individuals) sets out to change the status quo. It was no different in the case of Femme Velo.

“When I started shopping for gear and clothing I was underwhelmed and increasingly disappointed by my lack of options,” Nicole said. “The jerseys I found were an atrocious shade of pink or baby blue, which just wasn’t for me.

“I’m the kind of person that if I see something that can be better I don’t wait around for someone else to fix it — I jump right in and fix it myself. Both my parents were entrepreneurs and so starting a business of my own never seemed far-fetched.

“When I had the dismal experience of trying to find kit I liked and that I could do long rides in without it literally being a pain in my ass, I decided, why not make it better?”

When she was still new to the sport, Nicole found out that while riding alone can be hugely rewarding, it’s the social nature of the sport that binds us to our bikes. It provides the motivation to get out of bed when it’s still cold and dark outside.

Femme Velo initially began as a yearly women’s cycling sportive in 2012, before launching its line of apparel earlier this year.

“I love where we came from in this sport,” Nicole tells us. “Femme Velo isn’t about empowering women, because women don’t need brands to empower them. Women need brands that complement them, that fit into their lifestyle, and most importantly women need choices.

“That’s who we are and what we stand for and if we can get one more woman to walk past a bike shop and wonder at the possibility of what might come if she gets on bike and starts riding, then we’ve done something great with our voice and our brand.”

One thing you’ll notice if you look closely at the Femme Velo range is that each piece is named in honour of a woman who used the bicycle to challenge social norms and in doing so changed things for the better.

“Our first kit is named after Alfonsina Strada,” Nicole explains. “She started racing as a child and was talented enough to have been able to carry that into her adulthood. Unfortunately, this was during a time when women weren’t allowed to have a career in racing, or a career at all.

“But, she didn’t let that stop her. She is still the only woman to have raced in one the three major tours, which is so inspiring.”

Femme Velo is one of only a few cycling apparel brands out there that’s making cycling kit exclusively for women. Nicole Adamson hopes her brand will contribute to the growth of women’s cycling.

“When I started Femme Velo there were only a few brands out there catering to women, and now there are quite a few,” Nicole says. “It’s wonderful for women to have more options to choose from in terms of bikes, gear, and clothing.

“I’m a firm believer that for a sport to flourish it needs to grow from the ground up. I’d like to see women who ride recreationally get involved with advocacy in their communities. I’d like to see more women tuning in to watch the professional women’s peloton compete. I do think you’re starting to see more of this, which is encouraging.

“I’m excited to be a part of all that, and hope I can shape the future of it as well.”

The Femme Velo range has been small to begin with, but Nicole tells us there’s lots more in store for the very near future. You can see the Femme Velo range now on the Emporium.

This content was written for the CyclingTips Emporium.