Velo Vixen, an online clothing store for fashion-conscious female cyclists, has managed to raise half a million pounds in outside investment to expand.
The store, which won awards for its female specific offerings last year, aims to be a friendly space where women of athletic and more leisurely persuasions can find clothing to fit, flatter and perform.
The owner say it is arguably the biggest ever UK investment into a female specific cycling operation.”
The nine month investment drive has seen a syndicate of private investors, part of a ‘club’ run by Chelverton Asset Management, raise the funding to stock more ranges from more brands.
The company was formed in 2012 by Phil and Liz Bingham, who already count Morvélo and Vulpine along with more niche brands.
Liz said: "In 2010, just six months after we had met, Phil and I decided to go for a bike ride. A long bike ride.
“My previous cycling had been limited to pottering around town with a basket on my bike. Training consisted of one wobbly 30km ride along a canal towpath.
“A year later, we had ridden more than 10,300km together, from the southern tip of Argentina up and over the Andes to Lima. And then from Canada to Mexico. At the end, we put down our bikes and Phil proposed.
“We battled 100kph winds, altitudes of over 15,000ft and countless thigh-burning climbs. We slept in over 200 different spots. We laughed, cried, sweated and shivered - and in my case, all in 13 items of clothing.
“One of the biggest challenges was finding those 13 items of clothing. I had my work cut out finding cycling gear that excited me but also worked well. I did pick up some handy additions on the trip: a reflective vest from a generous Peruvian roadworker, some great Sugoi shorts in Seattle, and plenty of inspiration on the LA bike paths.
“But whether it’s for commuting to work, popping out for a coffee or crossing continents, it can still be hard to track down high quality kit that doesn’t make you look either like that Peruvian roadworker or a Teletubby. A year sitting on a bike gives you plenty of thinking time.”
VeloVixen was born, and now will extend to include brands such as Queen of the Mountains, Fierlan, Bon Courage, Anna's Legs from Anna Glowinski, and Showers Pass.
Liz said: ”It's been a long four years, with many sacrifices along the way and a huge amount of work from everyone involved. We're immensely proud to have secured the chance to take VeloVixen to the next stage in its evolution.
Richard Bucknell, Chelverton's investment director, said: "In a market where online is already a strong and accepted retail channel, VeloVixen has forged a niche position, and brand-recognition way beyond its current size.
“Its differentiated offering, in an otherwise largely price-driven, homogeneous sector, really stands out, and we look forward to working in tandem with Phil and Liz over the coming years as they seek to exploit their ambitious growth plans."
After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.