The cycling cap- it’s not just for cycling any more! Since 2011, Toast Tea Threads has been making limited edition wool cycling caps in Olympia, WA (where warm and cozy headwear is is a must!) In my fascination with the who-what-when-where-how of our Philly Bike Expo exhibitors, I needed to know more about this particular entry into the world of bike fashion. Here’s founder/owner Ricky Rodriguez in his own words.
PBE What did you do before starting Toast Tea Threads?
RR Before TTT I was living in Southern California, working as a bicycle repair educator (still do) and surfing every single day. It was pretty dreamy.
PBE When did you know you wanted to go into this business?
RR I started making caps for friends while I was in SoCal, but it wasn’t until I moved to the Pacific Northwest, where I incorporated wool, when I started to see cycling caps as both functional and fashionable. I really enjoy the creative process, and the value of a unique cap made in small batches.
PBE Do you have background/education/training in sewing or bicycles or both?
RR When it comes to sewing, I have to give credit to my mom. She gave me most of my informal training up until I worked at Swift Industries for a few years, and had professional experience.
When it comes to bikes, I’ve been an educator for adults and young people since 2009. It ranges from basic mechanics to leadership skill building. Bikes are such a great tool that have the potential to connect people to emotions, community, and nature.
PBE What made you focus on this particular niche of the bike industry?
RR As someone who is into bikes, the cycling cap is an iconic and practical piece of attire. It’s a great for sweat, shade, rain, and it looks cool. A cycling cap can say a lot about you by the style you choose, whether it’s all black, bombarded with logos, or hella loud with color. I think of cycling caps as a form of expression.
PBE How did you choose the location for Toast Tea Threads or did it choose you?
RR It definitely chose me! The Pacific Northwest is such a beautiful place with two real seasons, and as wool became a staple for my wardrobe, functionality was the key to making a product that is fun and essential for colder days.
PBE What’s your favorite part of your business?
RR I love shopping! 🙂 it’s so fun finding new fabrics, patterns, and thinking of how to blend different ideas, colors. Of course sewing is also great, because this project is really like therapy for me. I love the repetition and creative process.
PBE Where do you find inspiration?
RR I’m inspired by the traditional design and wacky-ness. Most importantly I feel that there is a gap or lack of expressiveness that can come from an industry that is dominated by machismo, heteronormativity, and sexism. It’s rad to see how folks in the cycling industry are creating change and it’s important to continue to focus on being inclusive.
PBE What’s your favorite ride?
RR Currently, my favorite riding happens in Capitol Forest, here in Olympia Washington. There are some rad, well maintained multi use trails that are great for mountain biking, and forest service roads that are great for gravel rides. If you or anyone wants to come shred in the PNW, we’ve got tons amazing MTBing…