Karen Canady bikes three miles to her work on Wilshire Blvd as a patent attorney, even though her office is actually only a mile from her home in Country Club Park.
Canady takes a circuitous route through Windsor Square to put on the extra miles, get her heart rate going, enjoy the beautiful streetscapes, and perhaps, to show off her fancy Bikie Girl Bloomers. Sitting tall on her Royal Dutch Gazelle touring bike, her skirt is hitched up to show off some prettily-patterned bike shorts, combining functionality with fashion.
“I love opening people’s minds about seeing themselves on a bike. Biking to work doesn’t necessarily require a change of clothes – you just need the right clothing,” Canady told the Buzz over coffee on Wilshire Blvd.
The inspiration for Bikie Girl Bloomers came in 2012 when she was wanting to bike to work more often but hated thinking about having to change clothes. She swapped out her street bike for a more upright commuter bike, and started dreaming about what she could make to fit her bike and her work day. By the spring of 2013 she had her first product out – a line of bike shorts to wear under a skirt – but soon realized what she wanted was the skirt too. And a shirt to top it off.
With the help of consultant Maria Groezinger, Canady sourced local designers, fabrics, pattern makers, cutters, screen printers and label makers to create a small but sporty line of clothing that features two lengths of ‘bloomers’, some flippy skirts that incorporate a buttonable “skirt hitch” on the left side to show off the bloomers at times, and boat neck or drape neck T’s that work well under blazers and sweaters. The line is made of 67% Modal, a sustainable fiber made from cellulose extracted from beech trees and is blended with polyester and Spandex to achieve a soft, gentle drape that lies smooth, moves easily, and resists wrinkles and pilling.
The challenges of design, production and bringing the line to market were all much larger than Canady had expected but she has already released three seasons of bike wear. Bikie Girl Bloomers is going nation-wide mostly via magazine stories, word-of-mouth. online sales, and a YouTube video on how her patented “Skitch” works.
As a patent attorney in the field of biotech, Canady of course took her “Skitch” design to the U.S. Patent Office, but not before researching the matter. “It was really fun to do the patent research on this one. There were some funny patents from the late 1800’s with bloomers designed to protect women’s modesty,” Canady said. She’s put a spin on the modesty factor with updated colorful bloomers that are meant to peek out from under a skirt.
In October 2o15 Canady received U.S. Patent # 9,149,082. a “hitch for cycling skirt and method of using same” , thus formalizing her good idea, and liberating women cyclists everywhere by giving them some fun, flippy clothing to wear for work and play.