Yellow Velo is an indie clothing brand made by a cycling enthusiast for cycling enthusiasts. Laura Krapacher, the founder of the brand, draws inspiration from cycling culture, fashion, and art. Many of her tees feature pictures of vintage mountain bikes, trees, and birds. We got the chance to interview this local designer about her bike-crazy t-shirt brand. Check out the full interview below.
TM: When was Yellow Velo founded and what inspired you to start the brand?
YV: Well I never intended on starting a brand to begin with. I was working at Marty’s Reliable Cycle at the time, in Morristown, NJ. My boss’s wife finally conceived so I silk-screened bike designs on a bunch of onezies for their then unborn child. My co-workers loved the onezies and asked me to make them t-shirts, so I did, simply out of friendship, and they wore the bike shirts to work. I didn’t even think to start up a t-shirt line until customers started asking my co-workers “Where did you buy that? Where can I buy a shirt like that?”
TM: Yellow Velo is a really catchy name. How did you come up with it?
YV: I was having a hard time thinking of a name until one day this father and daughter came into the store. The little girl must have been four or five years old and she didn’t like me. They were a very well educated family, both being fluent in English, Spanish, French, and Hindi. The little girl refused to speak to me in English or Spanish. Luckily she spoke to me very rudely in French, which I can understand but cannot speak well. She said “Un jaune velo!” a yellow bicycle, which we didn’t have. But she kept demanding “Un jaune velo! Un jaune velo!” Those were the only words you could hear in the shop for a good 20 minutes until I convinced her to get the “rouge velo” (red bicycle). I was impacted by her words, needless to say, and “Un jaune velo!” was stuck in my head. Then it hit me– jaune means yellow in French, and yellow rhymes with velo, the french word for bicycle. So I came up with Yellow Velo. Yellow is also a culturally relevant color among avid cyclists because in the Tour de France, the person who was winning the previous day gets to sport “the yellow jersey.”
TM: Where do you get inspiration for your designs?
YV: I get my inspiration going to bicycle shops and hanging out with cyclists. I ask them questions on trends in cycling as well as clothing. I also look at fashion magazines, cycling magazines and art magazines for inspiration.
TM: Do certain artists or designers influence you?
YV: Illustrator J.D. Rich and other artists from the 50’s such as Jackson Pollock, and Die Brücke.
TM: Do you screen print the shirts yourself or do you outsource?
YV: I silkscreen the shirts myself. Doing them myself, I feel, makes them more exclusive.
TM: How do you promote your brand and what are your most effective marketing methods?
YV: I mostly promote through word of mouth. I go to cycling festivals, art openings and I visit shops, asking them to carry my product.
TM: Do you only sell t-shirts or do you have other types of apparel as well?
YV: One day I’d like to expand to other products like cycling caps, jerseys, saddle bags, etc. Right now it’s just t-shirts.
TM: Are there any other brands or artists that you would like to collaborate with in the future?
YV: I might be collaborating with Mark Jaworski of Vig Tees. And I am doing some work for Awjita, a New Jersey based metal band.
TM: What are your plans for Yellow Velo in 2011?
YV: To expand and sell at other places.
TM: Do you have any words of advice for aspiring t-shirt entrepreneurs?
YV: Get to know your audience. Get to work.
TM: Where can people buy your tees?
YV: Marty’s Reliable Cycle in Morristown NJ
173 Speedwell Ave. Morristown, NJ 07960
Index Art Center Record Shop
585 Broad St. Newark, NJ 07102