Welcome to 1×10, where we ask 1 inspiring human 10 questions about how they are using cycling as a force for good. Read on to learn about Brad Sheehan, CEO & Designer of Velocio Apparel, makers of high performance and sustainably made cycling apparel, based in New Hampshire. I was inspired to start Virtuous Cycle because, as someone who works at the intersection of social impact, sustainability and brand reputation and as someone who loves bikes and biking, I was surprised that I didn’t know top-of-mind cycling brands that lead with improving our planet and their communities, both ‘issue-areas’ that I feel that most cyclists give a hoot about. As I started doing some digging around I kept hearing about this apparel brand Velocio who were producing their products with sustainability at the core. As they state on their website:
“It isn’t enough to make beautiful clothing for cycling. At Velocio we care about how our clothing is made, how the folks that make our clothing are treated, where the raw material of our clothing comes from and what we stand for as a company.”
I love what they stand for as a company, how they approach product and packaging design, and ultimately the quality of their products. Thanks to the Velocio team I got to try out a kit for the Rooted Vermont gravel race last week. I have to say the Signature Bibs, Ultralight Jersey, Wind Vest, and Signature Socks, were wonderful straight out the bag (literally, I got them Saturday and rode the race on Sunday!), and they felt even a better knowing how they were made and the various causes they support. Read more to learn about how Brad fell in love with cycling, his most memorable rides, how Velocio is building a cycling brand that is loud and proud about caring for the planet and communities, and more in his 1×10 interview.
1. How / why did you fall in love with cycling?
Bikes have always been a part of my life though – we lived on our bmx bikes all summer when we were kids and I remember working all summer to buy my first ‘real’ mountain bike when I was about 12. I started road cycling in high school as a form of rehab for a knee injury (ACL) sustained from ski racing. My younger brother was pretty active in mountain biking at the time and that was an influence to get my first road bike. Still to this day, I love the freedom and simplicity of riding a bike, and the experiences I’ve had on a bike are some of the most vivid for me.
“Still to this day, I love the freedom and simplicity of riding a bike, and the experiences I’ve had on a bike are some of the most vivid for me.”
2. Favorite Bike (that you own or covet)?
My favorite bike is the one I’m riding – it’s less about the actual bike, than it is just the ability to be out riding. Aside from that, every time I ride my mountain bike, I come home thinking “this is my favorite bike, it’s so much fun”. I’m pretty fortunate to have some nice bikes and all of them are some of my favorites of all the bikes I’ve owned in the past.
Road: BMC Teammachine SLR01 Disc w/ Enve 3.4AR’s
MTB: Scott Spark Ultimate w/ NEXT Grit 29’s
Cross/Gravel: Cannondale SuperX
3. What’s the most memorable ride you’ve done, and what happened?
I’ve always had a knack for biting off more than I can chew, so to speak. So I have a lot of memorable rides where I’ve questioned what I’ve gotten myself into. One that comes to mind is riding the La Marmotte loop solo in early October, when the days are not so long… I was staying in La Grave, France with a friend of mine and had wanted to do this monster loop, but really hadn’t planned it out. I ended up leaving around noon with a couple of bottles and a few bars/gels. It was one of the hardest rides I’ve done, but also one of the most amazing – the experience, scenery, descents, and climbs. I ended up descending off the Galibier at dusk and barely making it back to La Grave with any light left.
“It was one of the hardest rides I’ve done, but also one of the most amazing – the experience, scenery, descents, and climbs.”
4. Who do you admire in the cycling world?
The risk takers.
5. Top tip for a new rider, or a cyclist about to take on a new challenge?
Keep your head up – look around and take it in. Learn from everything because you can’t plan for it all. Roll with it.
6. Favorite trend or innovation in cycling?
Equality, or at least moving towards it.
“Equality, or at least moving towards it.”
7. What are you doing to use cycling as a force for good?
Many of the decisions we make at Velocio revolve around our impact on the sport, our community and the world around us. We try to lead by example and use our platform to influence change and raise awareness. We see this as a primary responsibility of running a business. Specifically, we’re looking at ways to reduce our environmental impact: recycled fabrics, biodegradable packaging, sustainable materials, manufacturing powered by renewables – are all part of what we do, and we’re constantly pushing to improve. As members of 1% For The Planet, 1% of sales are donated to causes that support our planet as well. We’ve also been active in shifting the paradigm of cycling towards equality and gender parity. Our product line was developed initially to address the lack of high-performing cycling apparel available for women. Today we offer an equal line for both men’s and women’s apparel – both in size of collection, and quality and performance. We’ve also developed a UNITY campaign, where each year we’ve created a special edition jersey from which 100% of the profits are donated to a charitable cause close to us: whether it be the ACLU, RAICES, or NAMI.
From the Velocio website:
“We work with a family-owned Italian manufacturer with over a half century of experience sewing and constructing garments. We’ve met the sewers, chatted with the printers and shared coffee with the fabric suppliers. Velocio clothing is made under strict EU labor guidelines and fair labor practices. Velocio fabrics are carefully considered for their performance and function balanced within their impact, environmentally. Our mills are Bluesign approved and have undergone reviews for their treatment of wastewater and energy efficiency meeting the European standards for environmental conservation. Velocio packaging is recyclable. All printed collateral is made on 100% post consumer recycled product. Velocio uses minimal packaging in shipping.”
“We’ve also developed a UNITY campaign, where each year we’ve created a special edition jersey from which 100% of the profits are donated to a charitable cause close to us: whether it be the ACLU, RAICES, or NAMI.”
8. Thinking about the work you’re doing, what do you see as the potential change for people or the planet? If you are successful, what impact will you have?
Big picture, I’d like to think we can be an example for how successful businesses can be active in areas that in the past have been counterproductive to business operations; how you can improve the quality and reduce the impact on our planet and the people in our communities while still creating something people want to be a part of. All of these things can go hand in hand and commerce can help shape how we as consumers behave.
“…I’d like to think we can be an example for how successful businesses can be active in areas that in the past have been counterproductive to business operations; how you can improve the quality and reduce the impact on our planet and the people in our communities while still creating something people want to be a part of.”
9. What’s your biggest challenge/obstacle to success?
I’d say that we face the same challenges as any small, growing brand. In terms of success, it really depends on how that’s defined. In many ways, we are already very successful and there have been many different obstacles along the way. In general however, making more people aware that we exist and what we’re about is always the main driver.
10. How can people help?
At Velocio we’ve focused on creating the best apparel possible – not just in terms of performance, but also in how it’s made, how long it will last and the impact it will make over the long haul. Creating apparel this way costs a lot, but we feel that at the end of that product’s lifespan, the cost is lower. So we ask that our customers consider the true cost of what they buy and to buy fewer things that last.
“Creating apparel this way costs a lot, but we feel that at the end of that product’s lifespan, the cost is lower. So we ask that our customers consider the true cost of what they buy and to buy fewer things that last.”
Brad Sheehan, is CEO and Designer, of Velocio Apparel, a cycling apparel brand and company with sustainability and community at its core. When he’s not scrutinizing the design and impact of their next products you can probably find him riding the roads and gravel of New England.
Edited by John Kim. When he’s not out for a ride, John uses his expertise in Corporate Social Responsibility to help companies do well by doing good. Find him at firstname.lastname@example.org or VirtCyc on twitter or instagram.
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