Inspired by STP, two local women set out to change the women’s bike apparel market

 “When you go skiing, you don’t ski in a racing suit, so we don’t want our women to ride in a racing suit.” Tonik – real jerseys for real women

Business: Tonik
Owner: Mary Dettrich and Lisa McDermott
Industry: Sportswear

From accomplishing seemingly impossible goals to fostering friendships, the Group Heath Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic (STP) may have significant impact on people’s lives. For Lisa and Mary, it was the inspiration that made them dive into the competitive market of sportswear to create a company that specializes in bike wear for the everyday woman.

While training for the STP, Lisa and Mary, like so many other women before them, encountered a problem: they tried to buy a cycling jersey but none of them fit right.

“We just couldn’t find a jersey that fit, was comfortable and functional,” said Mary. “We either laughed till our sides ached or wouldn’t come out of the dressing room.”

So, they decided to design one.

Neither of them being seamstresses, Mary and Lisa started out by simply asking, ‘What do we want? What isn’t out there? And what do we need?’ Next they then hired a pattern maker and spent years developing a fit.

“For recreational riding, spandex really is a necessity but in the bicycling world as it stands now, there aren’t a whole lot of products for women. So the market is open,” said Lisa, adding that many women shy away from bike-specific clothing because of ill-fits and designs. “We wanted cycling clothing that functioned on a long ride but you wouldn’t feel silly if you had to walk into a coffee shop.”

Unlike the “pink it, shrink it” method that is so often applied to target women cyclists, Mary and Lisa set out to offer high-quality and highly-functional jerseys intended to meet the needs of women of all shapes and sizes, and to make them feel comfortable while riding.

“When you go skiing, you don’t ski in a racing suit, so we don’t want our women to ride in a racing suit,” Mary stated.

“We want women to move freer and with confidence. You shouldn’t have to worry about what you’re wearing while riding your bike. It makes a difference if you feel good about what you’re wearing,” added Lisa.

By providing women with comfortable gear, Mary and Lisa hope to ultimately get more women on bikes.

“Our goal is to make women feel great when they ride, so they will ride,” said Mary.

“Once you accomplish [a ride], there is no stopping you,” said Lisa. “It makes you realize how powerful you are. We want women to feel like the athlete they are.”

But entering the sports-technical wear hasn’t been easy, said Lisa.

“Sport-technical clothing is a very closed industry. We had to break through a lot of barriers,” she said. “But the reception of our product has been very warming. There’s a big need out there.”

The Tonik product line currently includes jerseys, arm warmers, headbands and socks, and Mary and Lisa hope to expand the line with padded shorts, jackets and sweatshirts.

“We’re hoping to offer a full line of products, but we need to do a lot of sizing and fitting first,” said Mary.

Learn more at http://tonik.myshopify.com/

Bikenomics is a feature series to spotlight the greater Seattle area’s growing bike businesses. Know a business that should be featured? Send me an email at amrook@cascadebicycleclub.org.