Tuesday, April 14, 2009

interview with Jennifer from Hotvelociti

Q: What made you start designing jerseys?

JB: I was an artist growing up. I had an insecure financial future if I chose that as a living so I went to business school and tried to become a business person. I became very bored with it and went back to journalism and decided to start my own company. The other reason is because when I started cycling about 10 years ago—I was bored by [jerseys] I saw. Why would I want to have a car company on my bike jersey? It’s so engrained to do that, but we’re not cycling to advertise car companies. I didn’t like the colors or designs and all the nice stuff didn’t fit me. [With my jerseys] I ended up not doing exactly what I would have done when I first conceived of this. I thought of doing more masculine things.

Q: You mentioned you were also a filmmaker. Have you done any films with bicycles?

JB: Yes,I did a pilot TV series about traveling around the world by bicycles called “Bike Travels with Jenny B.” I also had a TV show called “The Bike Show” for five years which I co-produced with another cyclist. That covered cycling in the New York region, advocacy, and alternative transportation.

And I did a film called Wheels, about speed skaters and cyclists in Central Park, which won three awards at NYU Film School, including one of the top pictures, editing and cinematography.

Q: What is most important to you about a bicycle jersey?

JB: [That they be] colorful, graphic, and have a message, which is sometimes subversive—I’m also influenced by high fashion trends. I would say fashion, fun, design and femininity are important to me.

Q: Are there any specific artists that inspired you?

JB: I don’t look at artists when I come up with stuff – I respond to trends and I read a lot of fashion magazines. Some of my jerseys are pure responses to trends like one of my earlier designs---for example, the Japanese giraffe stemmed from fashion. [The jersey called] “Circles” has been copied by so many companies you have no idea. [On the inspiration for “Circles”:] I was driving back from Mexico and I started drawing circles. I’m also inspired by the 1960s and 1970s. Technology and things influence the jersey “Aurora771” in the future. “Anatolia” was based on a visit I took to Istanbul. “Speed183” is about tagging and graffiti and all of the words refer to people who live in Washington Heights.

Q: What is the Ecstasy shirt about?

JB: Ecstasy was purely graphic. I just started drawing on the computer what would make a woman look like Darth Vader. That’s how I feel about “Ecstasy.” I didn’t want to use the name of a car company. I didn’t realize I was using Rastafarian colors and the ecstasy of cycling, and to drugs, but we don’t need drugs to feel high when we are cycling. That jersey was a lot of fun to make. I did it from beginning to end without any outside help.

Q: How has designing jerseys shaped your cycling/career? Are you constantly noticing what shirts people are wearing now?

JB: Yes, I’m constantly noticing what people are wearing. I have a fashion background. I worked in retail. I worked for Tiffany & Co. I wanted to be a fashion designer but I ended up going to business school. I think I might take it further into mainstream but I haven’t yet…it’s hard to pace myself. I think I’ll extend the line to include street clothing and dresses.

Q: What is your favorite bike you own and why?

JB: Right now it’s my Trek. Trek actually sponsored my blog. I ride the 5900—it’s probably the fastest bike I’ve ever ridden. It was the highest level Trek at the time, but I’m sure they make better versions now.

Q: I think you mentioned you ride in triathlons. How long have you been doing that and how has it shaped your cycling?

JB: I was racing before and I’ve raced in Mexico. Then I got older and now I don’t race as much… Sometimes when you race you get sick of what you have to do to be a racer; you have to wake up at 5:30 in the morning...when I was racing, I had no life whatsoever. When you’re racing, you’re just racing/working/racing/working.

I started racing again in triathlons because I wanted to move my life in that direction. Triathlons are a little bit easier because you can mix up the sports. I’m a pretty good swimmer but I’m scared of the swimming part. It’s all the people – I’ve had like 9 drowning accidents in my life and I’ve become a little superstitious about it. The second or third triathlon I did, I placed first or second in my category.

Q: What would you like to see more of in women's cycling?

JB: More women cycling. I love men; I’m kind of a jock myself. Sometimes I feel like I’m a man too. I have five brothers but the camaraderie of women when they are cycling together--it’s so great.There was a lot of antagonism between competitive women cyclists in New York – in NJ it’s a very different story. [In NJ] they’re very nice and it’s really great.

Q: What is your favorite spot to ride in NYC?

JB: From NY to Nyack—I like riding along the side of NY too. I love riding in Woodstock and Saugerties and Cairo and Akra. It’s 50 miles and it’s a huge amount of climbing. Also Route 32, near Hunter Mountain up behind Hensonville– it’s very challenging. That was the only time I’ve had to get off my bike to go up a hill.

Q: Which is your favorite Hotvelociti jersey and why?

JB: I don’t think I have one – they’re all personal. They all have their own thing. It’s like saying whose my favorite child. Some days I feel like wearing one more than others.

This year for the 2009 collection, I had a lot of blue and purple designs, so I purposely made a green and yellow jersey because I wanted that color in the collection. I had to find something that would work for that, so I made Sqwak!. I wasn’t 100% sure I wanted to do a bird character. I love birds and I feed them even though my landlord threatens to throw me out. I chose red for another jersey, Le Ventoux, which depicts a white woman on the front, and a dark woman on the back—the point is women can ride Le Ventoux, one of the steepest and hardest rides which is often featured in the Tour de France. Red is a very important color, it’s very passionate. I love blues and greens, and black of course is essential.

I think next year my style is going to change a lot and it’s going to be very different.

Q: The colors or the graphics?

JB: All of it.

Check out Jennifer's jerseys at Hotvelociti.

1 comment:

  1. this is awesome! thanks Q. for sharing this interview
    The jerseys are fun and very cool looking. and loving the hair-pieces that go with them. xo.meli