Bird Industries: An Interview with Amanda Stolle

Bird Industries Pocket Mirrors

Back in December, I made this chic set of pocket mirrors for Amanda Stolle.  Looking at the playful ‘Joy Ride’ artwork made me grab my computer in the middle of production (seriously!) to find out what Amanda and her company was all about. Turns out, Bird Industries makes bike (as in bicycle) accessories for urban ladies. Um… awesome!

As I started to learn more about Amanda, I became really impressed by her innovative spirit. With the rise of Etsy and the handmade movement, there are are a lot of talented artists out there sharing their work – but Amanda invents. Her line of practical bicycle accessories will truly make life easier the urban lady cyclists of the world. Very cool.

So, without further adieu, here is a brief interview with Amanda Stolle to talk about her company, Bird Industries, the products she has created, and a sneak peek of some new products coming soon. Enjoy!

Amanda, you are like the Thomas Edison of urban lady cyclists! The skirt garter is seriously genius. Can you tell us a little bit about this dandy little thing and how you came to invent it?

Wearing shorts isn’t really my thing. So, in the hot, humid summer months here in Minneapolis, I tend to wear a lot of skirts and dresses. One of my favorites was a lightweight cotton A-line that flew up so much when I biked, I had to ride with one hand holding my skirt down. I thought there had to be a better way, and started testing out different solutions. The current skirt garter is an elastic band that fits around the thigh, with a silicone back to keep it from riding up. The band has a clip that attaches to the skirt or dress to keep it from flying up. Simple, freedom!

The Skirt Garter

The Skirt Garter

In addition to the skirt garter, you also make utilibelts, hooded scarves, waterproof seatcovers, and more. Are all of your items handmade by you or do you work with a team?

I get great ideas and inspiration from others, but I design and make each piece myself, at this point. A local shop was looking for handmade ornaments, so that sparked the bike tube pinwheel ornament. A friend of mine asked if I knew of a very specific bike purse/bag, because she couldn’t find what she wanted. So I developed the top tube wristlet.

The Bicycle Top Tube Wristlet

The Bicycle Top Tube Wristlet

I do my best work when I have a problem to solve. Last year I started attending a program for apparel design. I love working on accessories, but see a need for more clothing specific to women who commute by bike as well. This is the next goal for Bird Industries.

I have to say: Bird Industries is a really innovative company. Your product line serves a function, but it also seems to represents a lifestyle: “I can look sexy on my bike.” Have you found a lot of support within the cycling community?

The cycling community is both diverse and very supportive. I love my little niche within it and try to give back the fantastic support I’ve gotten. Bird Industries sponsor several rides that raise awareness and money for women and biking. One of my favorites to ride in is the annual Babes in Bikeland alley cat here in Minneapolis.

How long have you been into biking?

In 2005 or 2006 I was living in the heart of Minneapolis. I have some friends who biked everywhere and I discovered the close-knit community here. So I adopted my mom’s 25-year-old Raleigh cruiser. The thing was heavy as hell, but I didn’t know any better. I loved the freedom of it, and loved powering myself where I wanted to go. Then winter came, and I love a good challenge.

So, do you ride pretty much everywhere in Minneapolis now? How about in these crazy Midwest winters?

It’s amazing how many people do ride through the midwest winters! I just love it. Early on, I asked a friend why he would bike in the cold, wretched winter. He said, “Because other people don’t.” Seemed like as good of a reason as any! I’ve got my goggles, wool everything, ski gloves, and studded tires. It’s not my best look, but sometimes practicality wins out.

You also upcycle inner tubes to make earrings and ornaments! Ah, I’m so impressed! What other crafty things are you into?

The inner tube earrings and ornaments are new this winter and they’ve gotten good response. They are included in our new CycleChic Gift Set (along with the pocket mirrors from Buttonhead!).

CycleChic Gift Set

CycleChic Gift Set

I’m also excited to work more with reflective materials and have some cool bracelets coming out soon. **sneak peek**
4

Reflective Bracelets: Coming soon!

Reflective Bracelets: Coming soon!

 

Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview. Where can we find out more about you, your company, and your products?

Thanks for the chance to connect with the Buttonhead community!
As for more Bird Industries info, I tend to put my newest products and the one-of-a-kinds on birdindustries.etsy.com. There is also plenty of product, along with stockists, and the BI blog at birdind.com.