Joyce Brereton is the founder of As Bold As, a lifestyle cycling brand that bridges the gap between style and function. Her designs replace the high vis, shapeless kagool with beautifully cut, waterproof parkas and jackets that still manage to incorporate the practical and safe elements you need on your commute. Throughout her career as a Mechanical Engineer and working as a Visual Effects Artist in London, Joyce told me that there was always a little voice telling her to start her own business. Through a combination of courage, frustration and finding an idea that resonated, As Bold As was born. Now living back in her native Dublin, Joyce is balancing the growth of her business and motherhood whilst also being six months pregnant. To mark International Women’s Day 2016, QOTM shares Joyce’s perspective on being a female business owner, a cycling entrepreneur and a mother.
What was your motivation behind starting As Bold As, did you spot a need in the market?
I cycled to work everyday and was ashamed of the gear I wore, it didn’t have one scrap of style. It was the perfect design challenge for me: design something technical and beautiful. I revelled in the process: colours, fabrics, shapes, detailing, and functionality. I was in my element.
Talk us through your inspiration behind this first collection
I’ve always been drawn to geometry. My family are jewellers and the Art Deco period and its geometric and symmetrical style has had a big influence. I was also inspired by designer Roksanda Ilincic and Preen and their bold and balanced use of colour and geometry. I wanted the fabrics to have a high quality feel about them, almost that they look like a high quality cotton or linen but perform like a high-end technical fabric. After six months of searching I found a match.
Did you always have an ambition to launch your product/ be your own boss?
Yes I did. It took longer than expected though! I was very comfortable going through the motions in my regular job and had to whip myself into shape and take a leap of faith. My family on both sides have worked for themselves so perhaps it was in my blood. My family, husband and friends have been very encouraging. I love the buzz of not knowing what the future holds and I am so relieved that I have taken this step. I think if I hadn’t the regret would have been immense. I’ve met such great people on this journey that I already know that it has been the right decision.
Do you think cycling to work is becoming more of the norm compared with recent years? How has the commuting scene evolved?
I started cycling to work about six years ago. We were definitely a minority and it was seen as an odd thing to do. To me the numbers stacked up: 20 minutes on the bike versus 45 minutes on the bus, plus a healthy dose of endorphins and fresh air. Now it’s a bit more normal and cycling infrastructure is improving. There’s a bit of “cars versus bikes” agro but I think that’s just growing pains as the cycling community becomes more prevalent. It has gained critical mass and there’s no going back. I feel happy for when I see a flock of cyclists at a traffic lights.
How to you manage juggling motherhood, launching a brand and also being six months pregnant?
It’s busy and sometimes I feel overwhelmed. But I’d say that’s the same for most mums working inside and outside the home. My husband and I share household chores equally and being organised helps. Sanity time is essential. That’s when commuting on my bike, swimming and yoga are the best decompressors. Exercise has always been my secret agent. Life is always better after a cycle. I also play bridge (the card game) with lots of older ladies every week. Now that is a change of scenery! When you get your ass whipped by an 85 year old it puts things in perspective!
Have you got any advice for other pregnant women who still want to ride to work?
Cycling and swimming are great to do when you’re pregnant as you don’t feel the weight of your bump so you feel like a normal human being! Raise your handlebars to give added space for your bump, try and circumvent hairy junctions, use panniers instead of bags on your back as your spine is under enough pressure already. I used to take a lot of risks on the bike but now I cycle gingerly along like a happy tortoise.
Today is International Women’s Day, as a female founder what would be your advice to other women considering launching their own business?
I have four nuggets:
1. Chose a business that you really love and believe in as the road is twisty.
2. Take time to celebrate the highs and tell everyone because they are hard-earned.
3. Persistence is key: anything worth having takes a lot of hard work.
4. It’s never the right time so you just have to do it!