Becoming a Bicyclist Again by Lani Tarozzi

Lani with her beloved Biria.

Lani with her beloved Biria.

I ran in the backdoor and through the kitchen of my childhood home all scraped up yelling, “Mooommm!  I just fell off my bike into the Schmidt’s shrubs and now I can’t get my bike out of the shrubs!!”  I was 5 and I just learned how to ride my Schwinn.   My mother held up one urgent & patient index finger to hold me at bay while she gracefully exited the vacuum cleaner salesman out the front door.  It was the early 70’s on Stiles Court in Pompton Lakes, a northern suburb of New Jersey, an hour outside of NYC.  You rode your bike everywhere and, yes, vacuum salesmen came knocking on your front door.

Me as my sister Rosalyn in the early '70s with my Schwinn in the background.

Me as my sister Rosalyn in the early '70s with my Schwinn in the background.

I spent my childhood biking all over town with my sister and my neighborhood friends.  My grandparents bought us our first bikes and, wanting us to have good, safe bikes, the Schwinn bike shop is were we always went.  I rode a Schwinn straight through high school, no helmet and no lock… ever.

Off to college at NYU and my biking pretty much ended.  I walked, rode subways, and took buses and cabs.  Biking just wasn’t the culture, not for me anyway.  I once biked on a date in my mid-20’s from the West Village to Central Park.  It was so much fun, but that was it for biking until my 40’s.

By that time I had 2 boys and my wheels were pushing a double stroller around town.  When the boys were both in school full-time, I took a job back in fashion with my friend, Todd Snyder, who had his own fashion line.  His office on 20th Street was just over a mile from where I dropped my kids at school, but there wasn’t any logical public transportation to get me there and it was too far to walk and arrive on time.  Noticing other parents on bikes dropping off their kids, I got myself over to HUB Bikes in the neighborhood and bought my black Biria City Bike from George, I rented a hook in the Bike Room in my apartment building, and I’ve been riding that Biria ever since.  Although my boys both have bikes and we ride together occasionally, their wheels of choice are on skateboards.  It’s all good and we all get around town on what suits us best.

With every new adventure, new challenges crop up, which then can (and did!) lead to new adventures, which brought me to starting my fashion bike accessories company, Tandem NY.  When I went to work for Todd, his office was in a super-cool loft in The Flatiron District in NYC and he let us park our bikes in the office.  I rode up on the freight elevator and parked my bike at my desk, as did the other office bikers. 

My challenge, though, wasn’t actually biking to work in the city traffic, nor was it the wedge heels that were my issues; it was my flowing skirts and dresses that were distracting (and embarrassingly revealing!), while I biked.  I would joke about it in the office and say I needed to invent something to tame my skirt while biking.  An encouraging bunch they were in the office and they nudged me along to take that leap of faith to design something to fix my problem. 

I teamed up with my sister, Rosalyn, and we combined our design & production talents from our fashion industry backgrounds, having collectively worked in fashion at Coach, Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein, and we launched Tandem in 2014 with "The Skirtweight," an accessory that simply clips-on to the hemline of your skirt to keep it from flowing up while you’re riding on!

The Skirtweight has brought both us national and international recognition in both the biking & fashion worlds:

Evan, Mick & Me on West 4th Street in the West Village, NYC

Evan, Mick & Me on West 4th Street in the West Village, NYC

The momentum of the Skirtweight gave rise to the next fashion biking accessory launch… Skirtlegs Leg Warmers. The leg warmers were designed for another biking necessity for me as I still wanted to bike in a skirt in the winter.  We designed the cashmere-feel leg warmers to keep stylishly warm while biking in a skirt in cold weather or while walking or en-route to yoga or the gym.  The unique back zipper design allows for easily removing the leg warmers without removing your shoes or sneakers, and the reflective trim shows you off at night.

With even more momentum gained, I had the idea to incorporate into our biking world a series of products highlighting women in Fashion & the Arts called “In Tandem With…”  We’re proud to be intermixing with the great talents of Sacha Penn of Penn & Daughter, Susan Mocarski of Cleverhood, Janna Hortsmann of Radkappe, Danielle Baskin of Inkwell Helmets, Mara McCann of Henry Liz Helmet Bags, and Chanel Cohn & Mindy Brooks of Aviva Winter.

With my most recent honor of being asked to join Pedal Love’s Style & Culture Council to promote women in biking as a lifestyle, I’m beyond grateful for all the support we’ve gotten from the biking industry and I hope to encourage women in towns and cities to look beyond their comfort zones and take a chance on their bikes.  I love what I do with Tandem and we’re working on cultivating the business with more products to make biking easy and attainable for women.  From my Schwinn of the ‘70’s to my Biria of the ‘10’s, it’s been quite a ride and I’m enjoying my momentum gained “in Tandem” with the talents and great minds in the industry.

Learn more at TandemNY.com.