We sat down and had a chat with ad tech start-up veteran and ex Amazon product manager Sarah Jackson, who has turned her gaze to a new startup called Velominata. This new brand is based in the UK and is an online-only destination for discovering and purchasing premier independent brands in women’s specific cycle wear, including Attaquer. It aims to make the ‘cycle shop’ experience more familiar, and to provide female cyclists with the choice of apparel they deserve. Not only has she created a game changer for the women’s cycling market, but she also is a co-founder of a local cycling club in Essex.
Can you give us some background as to how cycling came into your life?
I was a sporty child and enjoyed getting out on my BMX or mountain bike, but really it was horses and horse-riding that ruled my world back then. In my twenties and early thirties my fitness lapsed, badly; aside from a few half-hearted visits to the gym. Then, in my mid-thirties, my husband and I went to Mexico on holiday. There you could hire bikes to ride around the hotel resort, so we did, and after approximately two minutes worth of moderate pedalling we both had the stark realisation that: a) we still loved getting on a bike as much as we ever did, and b) we no longer had the fitness levels of a teenager. That holiday was the catalyst for so much change. And now here I am in my forties, absolutely obsessed with all-things-cycling, co-founder of a local cycling club and founder of Velominata. I understand this sort of cycling renaissance is quite commonplace in mid-lifers!
Where are you based and what are some of your favorite routes where you live?
Anywhere in the glorious county of Essex. And I say that with full sincerity. I am proud to be an Essex girl and by that I mean, a female hailing from the county of Essex. Other meanings are available, sadly. As I was saying…Essex gets a bad wrap, but it offers up the most wonderful undulating terrain, verdant countryside and relatively traffic-free roads. My favourite kind of ride takes in some of the chocolate box villages in central and northern Essex, is about 60-80 kilometres long and features a café stop at one of the many popular cyclist haunts. The Bakehouse for example.
What made you start your own company? / What are some of the reasons for having a women’s specific retailer?
Frustration and a desire to enact change. As my passion for cycling developed, I wanted my cycling kit to evolve as well, but the choices on offer to me were meager, and often I just didn’t know what was out there because it was like hunting for a needle in the proverbial haystack. I saw the same things happen to my female cyclist friends too. When an industry like cycling is so dominated by images of men, it’s harder for a female-centred message to get through, it tends to feel like an afterthought. I started Velominata to provide more choice to women who cycle, to give them greater visibility and to help them discover a broader range of high quality kit, in the hope that it will help to play a humble part in driving the growth in women’s cycling forward.
Attaquer is more than a brand, it’s an attitude. Something that is paving the way for new attitudes in cycling. How does this cross over with Velominata’s ethos?
Traditions are great, I love traditions and am a bit of a history nut, but there’s nothing as constant as change. When Attaquer launched, it shook up the cycling world with its colourful designs and proved that we don’t all want the same things or think the same way, just because we enjoy riding our bikes. We are humans. We are diverse, and sometimes we want to be able to express ourselves through our attire. One of the things I really admire about Attaquer is their disregard for ‘women’s colourways’. Instead, they design an awesome bit of kit and then produce a men’s fit and a women’s fit. They’re providing women with just as much choice as men, which is exactly what we have set out to do with Velominata.
What are some of the great things about cycling for you?
When you start cycling, you become part of the 'gang', a big-hearted, friendly community who help each other out and always extend a greeting to a fellow cyclist out on the road - when would you see car drivers doing that?
What is your favorite Attaquer style this season?
It’s a toss-up between the stripes of the All Day Sailor Jerseys (I love the Navy/Red and the Black/White in equal measure) and the A-Line in Olive Green.
Shop our Attaquer Women’s range at Velominata now, or follow along on Facebook and Instagram.