What to do when that just-right cycling jersey proves elusive? If you are Brooke Freiborg and Deb Amorde, creators of Moxie Cycling, you take matters into your own hands and design your own.
Because the women of Moxie have made it their mission to bring more women to cycling through evolved apparel design, they are showering you with some amazing gifts. When you RSVP to an Esprit de She Cycle, Duathlon or Triathlonevent, you will receive this custom commemorative jersey, valued at $58, courtesy of Moxie! Plus, if you register before April 1, you will receive a $25 gift certificate to help you get outfitted for a great season.
We recently caught up with Brooke and Deb to learn about the inspiration behind Moxie — and how one little piece of fabric brought big dreams to reality.
Tell us about the development of that very first jersey: When did the light bulb come on and how did you proceed from idea to design?
Brooke: The first jersey was really a combination of several years of involvement in the sport and a reaction to the options available in the marketplace. I can vividly remember the exchange Deb and I had about the “retro” jerseys in her closet before I first started cycling. I think I may have even said something along the lines of, “There’s no way I’m going to wear that. There’s got to be something better.” So, being the very stubborn person I am, I chose to just wear yoga and running tanks and tees for my long training and touring rides. It’s no surprise to avid cyclists that there was an inherent flaw in my thinking — yoga and running garments are designed for those activities, whereas a cycling jersey has been technically designed and tested for cycling. I learned that lesson the hard way and it took 1000+ miles to show me the error of my thinking.
Long story short: my pursuit of a technical, yet stylish and comfortable, cycling tank jersey led us to the development of our first collection. I created a hand-sewn prototype in 2010, and then we hired an agency to develop patterns and run production in 2011. Business rule number one was (and still is) that we needed to surround ourselves with people smarter than ourselves. Our first hires were specialists in apparel development. After all, if we were going to develop a premium brand designed specifically for women, product quality and design were paramount.
Deb: We had talked half-heartedly a few times about making a business out of stylish, yet performance-based women’s cycling apparel, but got serious about the idea during the winter of 2010. Once we committed to market testing the concept, we worked with a local pattern maker to pull together a working garment that included all the ideas and inspirations we gathered through the months preceding the formation of the business.
How long did it take you to settle on the particular design that is the hallmark of Moxie? Did you road-test it?
Deb: It didn’t take long to know what we wanted, just several months of actually creating and refining. As mentioned earlier, Brooke sewed our first jersey, although it had a completely different design. Once our first T-back prototype was complete, we tested it personally on rides and held a fit-party so other women could try the jersey as well. We really wanted feedback from women of all shapes, sizes and cycling abilities. After all, the jerseys were designed to meet the needs of women cyclists, so the best way to accomplish that objective is to work with actual women.
Brooke: The design process for the first jersey happened rather quickly.The first “prototype” (and I’ll use the word prototype very loosely when it comes to my sewing skills) was a simple racerback style with a scoop neck, printed body with color blocking on the side panels, and three-pocket design.It has a lot of similarities to the first T-back style we introduced in July of 2010. I wore the prototype the final day of our 450-mile journey at RAGBRAI 2009.
What did you do before Moxie? Did you leave other careers to pursue this dream?
Brooke: I have a B.A. in Marketing & Finance and have been in the marketing and advertising field for 7+ years. I wouldn’t say I’ve left my career, rather extended it into a business of my own. I am so thankful to all of the entrepreneurs, clients and colleagues I’ve worked with over the years who have trusted me to make recommendations and run with them. I grew so much as a thought leader through those experiences.
Deb: Prior to Moxie, I had a career in Video Production and Licensing.
What advice can you give women who want to turn an idea that they are passionate about into a business?
Deb: I would strongly encourage them to pursue their passion, realizing that it will take a lot of effort. As we all know in fitness, anything worth having takes work. You need to do what most people aren’t willing to do to reap the rewards most will never see. Starting and running a successful business is not easy, but it’s definitely worth it. There’s a great sense of accomplishment.
Brooke: Go for it! Set benchmarks for yourself. Define what success means. Don’t be afraid to think out of the box. Be unique. Take intelligent risks. And think BIG. If you don’t believe in your idea, who will?
What’s special about your jersey’s cut and fabric?
Brooke: The first thing that everyone notices is the style. It doesn’t look like a cycling jersey. That’s intentional. It’s designed to appeal to what women wear off the bike whether it is during a run, yoga or even everyday fashion.The semi-fitted cut is designed to be figure flattering to women of all body types — not just the super skinny ones. The bra is one of our top selling features. It’s not the ordinary shelf bra you find in typical athletic tanks. It’s a full sports bra with enough support that cyclists don’t need to layer another bra. Just ask our customer who wears a 38E. The woman literally hugged me when she tried it on.
Deb: The fabric is made of very comfortable yet functional material, but the sleeveless design coupled with the performance aspects of a built-in support bra, long lengths and a three-pocket design is what sets a Moxie jersey apart.
How did you first get involved in cycling and what do you love most about the sport?
Deb: Outside the traditional bike riding we all do as kids growing up, I got my first taste of cycling when I was asked to participate in RAGBRAI (a border-to-border ride across the state of Iowa). I bought a bike, started training, but then wasn’t able to participate. A few years later with a bike that hadn’t seen a lot of miles, I still had a desire to complete the challenge. I asked Brooke if she and her husband would want to ride RAGBRAI with me. In 2009, we participated in our first RAGBRAI, an event that has become an annual event for us.
There are so many aspects I love about cycling. I love the feeling of “getting away” that comes when I’m on my bike. I love that I can be as casual or as serious about the sport as I want. I love that it’s a sport I can stick with as I age. But I love the sense of community and the social aspect most of all.
Brooke: I’ve ridden a bike since I was a little girl, of course. Funny enough, my dad actually transported my sister, brother and me to ride in the last 20 miles of a day of RAGBRAI when I was in middle school. I didn’t become a true cyclist though until 2009, when Deb invited my husband and me to join her in the 442-mile, 23,000-feet-of-climbing trek across Iowa that is called RAGBRAI. Nothing like jumping in headfirst.
Women are becoming attracted to cycling in record numbers. What does the industry need to do to better welcome them and serve them?
Deb: I feel the industry needs to understand how to relate to women cyclists in general and then specifically to women of all riding interests and abilities. Women are very passionate and carry great influence, and if we’re able to provide products and services that truly meet their needs we will have done well in welcoming them to the sport.
Tell us about your favorite cycling route.
Brooke: I have many. I love the camaraderie and community that comes with cycling. Whether it’s a multi-day touring event or a ride out to St. Bonnys for breakfast, there’s something magical about the open road. There is clarity and peace of mind when I’m on the road clipping along at a comfortable pace or working hard to push myself to become a stronger rider.And then off the road, sharing a cocktail or cup of coffee with new and old friends. I couldn’t be more jazzed about the culture and community of the new Esprit de She series — it’s everything I love about cycling all wrapped up with a pretty little bow for so many women to come together.
Deb: For short rides, I really enjoy the trails at Elm Creek. I love the mix of scenery, hills and flats. For long rides, I head west toward Corcoran, Rogers and St. Michael. I love the way you can get into a zone and ride without interruption.
Any plans to increase your product line? Women’s shorts, perhaps?
Brooke: Yes, we’re deep in product development for 2014 now. We’ll round out our collection with lots of exciting new styles, including more tops, bottoms, layers and accessories. We can’t wait to show the world our vision. Women cyclists deserve more options that are stylish, performance-oriented and comfortable.
Do you have a lucky piece of cycling clothing?
Deb: I don’t know if I would tag them “lucky,” but I love my Sidi shoes and will be very sad when I need to get a new pair.
What has been your best selling jersey so far? Did it surprise you?
Brooke: Jester is our best selling jersey to date. Deb and I both loved it the minute we saw it, but we thought it was a little quirky. We certainly didn’t expect it to have the mass appeal that it has. It’s actually quite funny that the jersey I thought would be the best selling jersey and the jersey that came back from focus groups as the fan-favorite are actually our two bottom colors. Interesting!
Deb: Jester — I’m somewhat surprised simply because it’s so bold; I wasn’t sure how people would react to it. That print was one of my favorites when we were finalizing selections for the inaugural collection. I’m glad it’s been so successful.
What is your favorite color?
Deb: Black — it works well with my practical nature and is so universal, how can you go wrong?
Brooke: I don’t pick favorites. I claim it’s a middle child thing.
Do you have a favorite phrase or mantra to live by?
Brooke: “There’s no time like the present.”It’s been my mantra for years, but it wasn’t succinctly said or written until my husband said it to me when we were discussing my transition to pursuing Moxie full-time. Whether it’s in the business or personal sense, I couldn’t agree with it more.
Deb: “How you spend your time and your money reveals your priorities” and “where ever you are, be there.”