Tips & Tales
VeloVixen is a young company. This gave us a real opportunity to build VeloVixen on solid principles from the outset. We don't want these to sound cheesy or unattainable. We do intend to stick by them as we keep growing and maturing as a company.
It's easy to reel off glib lines about 'environmental responsibility' in website sections like this. But for Liz and Phil, VeloVixen's founders, it's a subject especially close to their hearts.
Two-time Olympic champion Marianne Vos made history this weekend, sprinting to a spectacular victory at the inaugural Friends Life Women’s Tour. At just 26, Vos is already a talisman for our sport – not just on the bike but also as a campaigner pushing for equality in cycling.
Every so often, you get an unforgettable reminder of why cycling is special. Why cycling can take you to highs and lows like few other experiences. This weekend, VeloVixen founder Phil had one of those. It reminded him of exactly why women’s cycling is such an exhilarating world to be involved in.
Starring übermodels Olivia Inge, Iskra Lawrence and Gemma Sanderson, with still camera wielded by Brad Bird, video by award-winning director Tom Collinson and Phil in a ‘supporting’ role – we had a blast bringing the kit we sell to life.
We were riding high at 12,000ft in the Peruvian Andes when the truck driver pulled over. As he wound down his window, we wondered what was coming. Was he angry with us? Had we infuriated him by cycling on his road? Was he a desert serial killer about to butcher us with a piece of roadside cactus? We needn't have worried. He smiled and lobbed a standard issue trucker's reflective vest down to me.
Being an online retailer doesn't mean we don't get out there. Since we launched in the summer of 2012, we've spent over 5 weeks in total at events, from Scotland to Cornwall. We love meeting our customers (many of whom we consider friends). And it's a vital part of how we evolve our range to cover what you actually want.
At VeloVixen we are lucky to have the support of several wonderful women who cycle regularly and who inspire us. Each of them wants to help to encourage, cajole and support women to get back on their bikes ('back', because everyone has ridden a bike at some point!). We work with them to help spread the cycling gospel amongst women around the UK. Please let us know if you know of anyone who should be a VeloVixen 'ambassador'! Here is a little about them:
I blame that second flat white in Caffe Nero. Back in late 2012, Vos Media’s Geraldine Reeve had invited us to meet up and discuss women’s cycling – a subject close to our hearts.
We’d covered a lot of ground when – with just a whiff of Lieutenant Columbo – she slipped in: ‘just one other thing – we’re thinking about doing a women’s cycling awards… what do you reckon?’
We're incredibly lucky to have a uniquely strong, talented team here at VeloVixen. A bunch of fools that genuinely care about each other and about dealing properly with people. Here we are...
Liz Bingham (Co-Founder & Strategic Director)
Former Life: Mixing life as a professional actress with life on the road as a professional tour guide. Juggled seasons with the Royal Shakespeare Company and television roles with the challenges of keeping educational groups of American teenagers under control.
Epiphany: Meeting Phil on a blind date in 2009.
Cycling Experience: Pottering round Cambridge in the 1990s. Oh, and riding 10,000km through South America and the US with Phil.
Today: Liz juggles (still juggling!) her role as VeloVixen Strategic Director with moonlighting in cycling event organisation and being a full-time mum to Zoe and Emma.
Phil Bingham (Co-Founder & Managing Director)
Former Life: Sitting at a desk and travelling the world managing portfolios of hedge funds - whilst covertly plotting exotic cycling trips and other adventures.
Epiphany: Meeting Liz on a blind date in 2009 (see above). And leaving his job shortly thereafter...
Cycling Experience: Land's End to John O'Groats, Ironman triathlon, various Etapes, the whole route of the 100th Tour de France and a little ride with Liz in 2010 (see above).
Today: Phil manages VeloVixen day-to-day whilst being as hands-on a dad as possible to Zoe and Emma. And planning the odd ride here and there. If he's good, a couple of times year he gets to see another male.
Fran Whyte (Operations Manager)
Former Life: If you've been arrested in the Oxford area in recent years, there's a fair chance that Fran was the one wielding the truncheon (she's a big softy really). She was one of the boys girls in blue, for almost 13 years until she realised that cycling was here true calling. And especially cycling kit. Don't even ask about her wardrobe.
Epiphany: Realising that police work wasn't leaving enough time for cycling. Or holidays. Luckily life at VeloVixen is one long cycling holiday (so we tell her).
Cycling Experience: Fran's rarely off a bike, whether it's climbing a Dolomite, finishing yet another Ironman triathlon, ripping up a Welsh MTB trail or rolling in cyclocross mud.
Today: Fran is in charge of our warehousing and order processing. You'll often find her on the end of a phone with her peerless line in sensible cycling kit advice.
Andrew Blakeley (Finance)
Former Life: Andrew has sorted out the numbers for many and various firms over the years, in worlds ranging from helicopters to bathrooms. Cycling shouldn't be a problem.
Epiphany: The realisation that renovating your own house entirely didn't mix well with a traditional full time job!
Cycling Experience: We're working on luring Mr B onto a bike for the first time in a while... watch this space.
Today: Andrew is a voice of pragmatism and reason in the cacophony of women's cycling - he does the important bits. And he's fast developing a penchant for ladies' lycra.
The Fat Unicorns: Matt Wild & Vic Whitaker (Website Gurus)
Former Life: The Unicorns have been around for many years, sprinkling their Unicorn Magic on numerous projects including our website and famous newsletters.
Epiphany: Recognising they were work and play soulmates.
Cycling Experience: any time you find these two loons away from the keyboard, you can be sure they'll be on a bike, snowboard, surfboard or rockface somewhere.
Today: Matt and Vic are sublime creators of websites - from the Unicorn's nest in Lancashire, they devise ever more fiendish ways to bring sites to life and make them work better and more beautifully.
Zoe & Emma Bingham (Roving Ambassadors / Product Testers)
Former Life: What?!
Epiphany: Being born into a cycling family...
Cycling Experience: Until 2016 Zoe was restricted to her 3-wheeled scooter, but is now pedalling her Isla Bike like a demon. Emma's still observing.
Today: Zoe (5) is the senior member of our youth squad, having been joined by her little sister in late 2014. Their role is constantly evolving. Both ladies take their role as Roving Ambassador very seriously - with new roving techniques including... 'running around doing funny things'. Zoe is now showing more active managerial potential - at least when it comes to managing her parents. Emma has recently developed scooter envy.
Looking for something a little different in the style-stakes to protect your noggin as you shred those trails - or city streets? Cue the Prescott, Bern's first foray into the world of women's enduro helmets.
Our Vixens love the variety in the Bern helmet range. We want to ensure you get the right helmet for your ride and appreciate that with so much choice. Price, weight, construction - it's all considered in our Bern helmet demystifier. Go forth and find your perfect companion...
Last night we had dinner at Heathrow Terminal 5. Were we off somewhere glam for an exotic mini-break? No. Were we collecting an old friend from overseas? Nope. Arriving back from a fortnight in the Caribbean? Fat chance.
No, we were marking an important occasion. It was 5 years to the hour since a departure that was to shape us, our lives and VeloVixen forever.
In a big week for VeloVixen, when we scooped the Total Women's Cycling Award as Female Specific Retailer of the Year 2015, the icing on the cake was when our Founder Liz Bingham and illustrious team member Kirsty Hofat were named in an extraordinary list.