It’s Awesome Time!

I am proud to say WE MADE IT!!   There is nothing like meeting and then exceeding your goal!

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Last night felt like such an electric evening, with the energy of the Oscars in full swing and with the ending of a successful three-week Kickstarter campaign for me.  The whole night just felt good all over. I am happy that part is done and now the rest of the work continues!  The last three weeks have been tough.  A lot of hours and time go into the media relations of a project and I felt like this was a wonderful learning experience for me.  I learned a lot of do’s and don’ts, tricks and tips, social media software programs, etc.!  I think if I decide to do this again, I will be MUCH wiser and more prepared.

On the creative side, there are so many wonderful things ahead for Carmichael & Co. bike bags.  I am hoping to explore some new fabrics as well as a new factory in NYC for exclusive, even smaller batch styles.  In the meantime, if you missed out on the Kickstarter campaign, we’ll be taking pre-orders on our website. To visit, click here.  

If you were a supporter or backer, I just want to say THANK YOU!  

Proposal by bicycling app

Originally posted on Jim's Bike Blog:

It’s one of the most creative uses of a bicycling app that I’ve ever seen – a marriage proposal mapped out on the streets of San Francisco.
Cyclist Murphy Mack, according to Mail Online , the website of London’s Daily Mail , rode 18 miles and burned 749 calories to trace out the words “Marry me Emily” surrounded by a heart.

Proposal by Strava

His ride, which took 80 minutes, was recorded by the free software app Strava, which cyclists and runners use to record their routes, speed, elevation and calories burned.
The girlfriend, Emily McLanahan, said yes.
The Strava app, reported the Mail Online, has spawned a new craze as cyclists and runners create artwork with the red route line recorded by the app using GPS technology.
But not all the artwork has been as romantic as Mack’s. One guy from Brighton, in southern England, Mail Online said, used Strava to…

View original 5 more words

The Handlebar Bag: This Is Why I Love It

bike bag, handlebar bike bag, carmichael and co bike bagsNo doubt a little handlebar bag packs a big punch when it comes to keeping your necessities handy.   I have found that a good handlebar bag is essential when you want to travel light.  This one, for example, is large enough to carry the essentials but small enough to use as a messenger bag. Or, for you chic lady cyclists, adjust the strap a little shorter and its a purse.  I just really love the versatility and possibilities of this bag.

I have discovered that it’s also a really great bag to have when you’re traveling.  It’s a nice, small carry-on that you can later attach to your bike when you get to your destination.  Sight-seeing has never been easier – or stylish!  And it’s not only good for a day out, but it’s a novel accessory for an evening pub crawl.

The Amsterdam Bag is available for only 5 more days at the discounted Kickstarter price of $59! Support a great bike product and be a part of the movement to get more people on bikes!
Visit the Amsterdam Handlebar Bag Project on Kickstarter here

 

 

What’s In Your Weekend Bag?

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These are my basic items to carry in my panniers on a typical weekend in the city in the Fall or Spring. Generally my Brita water bottle is also in tow. Whether it be a lazy afternoon in the park, a visit to the farmer’s market or finding myself at a restaurant I’ve been wanting to try.

What do you carry on a typical weekend?

Bike Bags and Panniers: Then and Now

There is no doubt I have a fierce love affair with vintage everything. My bike bag collection was inspired by and created with the intention of bringing back that classic vintage style with indestructible, rugged design.

The first panniers designed specifically for bicycles were patented by John B. Wood of Camden, NJ in 1884. The modern bicycle pannier was invented by Hartley Alley (1919-2001) of Boulder, CO, in 1971.  Alley also designed a handlebar bag and other bicycle luggage that he manufactured and sold under the Touring Cyclist brand in the 1970s until his retirement in 1984.

It’s interesting to look back into bike accessory history and see the antique and vintage styles still holding up after 50-60 years while the more recent ones haven’t. 

We seemed to have lost our way for a time during the faux leather/Naugahyde/plastic boom of the 70′s-80′s, but the good news is, it looks as though consumers are demanding quality again and manufacturers have to listen.

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Advertisement for Brooks, 1888

Aside from my own, of course, Brooks England is in my top 3 of bicycle accoutrements.  The company has maintained it’s quality and standards for the last 125+ years.

I think more and more people will be commuting by bike in the upcoming years.  And with those commuters, personal style is likely to follow.  We can see that already with all of the new vintage styles that are popping up in the marketplace all the time. It’s nice to see the pendulum swing to original style and quality.

Cabin Fever? 5 Tips To Kick The Winter Blues!

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With the winter seeming to D R A G on and the unseasonably cold weather we’ve had lately, many people are experiencing the winter blues or “cabin fever”.  Cabin fever is described as: An unhappy and impatient feeling that comes from being indoors for too long, Extreme irritability and restlessness from living in isolation or a confined indoor area for a prolonged time.  Cabin fever has been associated with claustrophobia, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), depression, anxiety and boredom. 

Yes. I do believe I have experienced this foul and mysterious condition a time or two.
Of course, I haven’t felt too much of this lately, as I’ve been much too busy and absorbed with my project to even consider any possibility of boredom!  What I do miss, however, is riding my bike!

I think a lot of people are experiencing this whole “over it” attitude regarding this cold winter we’ve had. In fact, Forbes recently published an article stating that an exodus is occurring in the northeast.  A surge of people are moving out of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts,  headed to warmer climates.

It’s odd how we are so affected by weather, but there are ways you can beat the winter blues (that doesn’t involve packing up the uHaul and heading west) whilst we wait out the cold snaps.

 

Get outside - even if it’s just for a few minutes.  If it’s a sunny day, especially set aside some time. Even if it’s only for 15 minutes to soak up the rays and let your body produce a boost of Vitamin D. Scientists at the University of Edinburgh suggest that the heart-health benefits of sun exposure may outweigh the risk of developing skin cancer.  In the landmark study, the researchers found that when sunlight touches our skin, a compound called nitric oxide that helps lower blood pressure, is released into our blood vessels. The researchers note that rates of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease rise in the winter. So, get out there!  

Develop or Discover a Hobby It doesn’t matter what it is.  Whether cooking or baking, writing, painting, reading a series of books, scrapbooks, growing a beard and shaving a new facial hair structure every week  -whatever it may be, hone in on some interests or skills that you have been interested in honing.  I discovered that I like to bake a lot during the winter and sew quick, easy projects.  I have found that picking a project that isn’t too overwhelming eases the impatience I may already be utilizing inside the cabin.

Game Night or Movie Night with popcorn and snacks are a good way to either escape the mundane, connect with your loved one(s) or relax alone.  Pick one day per week to have a game or movie night.  I subscribed to Netflix and this has worked wonders. First of all, I didn’t even know Netflix was still sending out DVDs via snail mail!  But secondly, I have something to look forward to in the evenings, and I have been able to catch up on all the shows and movies I had been too busy to watch when I was gallivanting around over the Summer!

Light Therapy.  Light boxes have been used for a long time for light therapy. Light therapy boxes emit far more lumens than a customary incandescent lamp.  In the United States, a diagnosis of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) was first proposed by Norman E. Rosenthal, MD in 1984. Rosenthal wondered why he became sluggish during the winter after moving from sunny South Africa to New York. He started experimenting increasing exposure to artificial light, and found this made a difference.   I have an artist’s light box as well as photography lighting for my business. I am not sure if the exposure to the lights has added to my mood or if was just the simple task of being busy doing things I love.  Either way, bright light when it’s dreary outside have been shown to help.

Get Away When you think about it, winter for many of us is nearly over.  If the prospect of warmer days closely approaching doesn’t give you enough warm fuzzies, perhaps a weekend getaway somewhere different (or warmer) is in order.  Many Psychologists say that changing your scenery, even if only for a day or two, can lift spirits dramatically and fight depression.  I recently took a train into New York City for a couple of days and even though it was colder than where I was, I was ready to get back home in my own bed!  So, even a quick trip somewhere else can help the monotony.  Visit another town nearby, a restaurant you’ve been wanting to try, or a hot springs getaway or day spa.

Remember, there is only one week left in February, Spring Break is just around the corner.
(Warm) Bike riding days will soon be here!

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Who was Amelia and Annie?

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Amelia Bloomer was born on May 27th, 1818 in New York.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with her, Bloomer was an activist for women’s rights and yes, the creator of the bloomers.
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Amelia was not a fashion designer but she had quite an influence on women’s style in America, just as Coco Chanel did in Europe. Her emphasis was on a more relaxed dress for women, throwing out corsets, petticoats and crinoline (ouch!).  She’d wear pantaloons under her skirts and dresses.  I guess it was her way of entering the waters slowly. At the time, the whole idea of pants on women was about as crazy as men wearing mini skirts these days.  True!

In 1895, Annie Londonderry (also known as Annie Londonderry Cohen Kopchovsky)

was a Jewish immigrant and mother.  She was also the first woman to ride a bike around the world in pants. She was also the world’s first international female sports star.  Annie was a badass.
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I think about these women today.  The Coco’s, the Annie’s and the Amelia’s. And of the other women who weren’t afraid to step away from the safety net for independence and comfort over the need to be “proper”.  Perhaps it seems small in the grand scheme of things but it’s all of those small steps that lead to very large paths that are paved.

3 Crucial Elements For Kickstarter Success

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I’m happy to say my Kickstarter campaign has not only met it’s goal, but exceeded it!
It’s wonderful!   The feedback has been great, and the stream of traffic has been steady. We are sitting pretty with 11 days to go but like many campaigns, a lull has taken place.  It happens.

Handlebar Bike Bag - KickstarterKeeping momentum during a campaign is pretty important, but it can also be challenging, especially when you’re a 1-woman team in the PR and Social Media Department. I have been doing it all myself, with the help of my lovely Backers and wonderful family and friends sharing the project.

I won’t complain, it has done pretty good without any extra $PR help!

But I don’t want to be complacent. The goat in me wants to see the campaign soar beyond it’s wildest dreams. I know this is a fantastic product. It’s well made and the price is outstanding.  It’s stylish, too.  It’s a great product that truly deserves press and recognition.  More and more people are deciding to ride their bikes, especially in the larger cities.  I saw this in NYC last week. Even in the freezing temperatures, people were pedaling their hearts out. Why NOT have a great looking bag that’s handsome as much as it is durable?  I think The Sartorialist would agree. :)

So, for the last two weeks, I have been learning the ins and outs, ups and downs and taking crash courses in PR and social media marketing. To say the least, it’s not easy and I commend all of you who are out there making it happen.  When my campaign first launched, my inbox was flooded with everyone from Kickstarter campaign gurus to PR agencies and Fiverrs. Everyone wanted to help make it successful.  At a price, of course.  One agency, even has a package that offers to do the PR on a project pro-bono and if it succeeds, they take 7%.  But slots for this option are limited and unfortunately for me, they were all full.  So what does a girl on a zero budget do? Well, we do it ourselves!  And get a few scraped knees along the way.

There are so many factors involved in creating a successful campaign but for anyone considering a future crowdfunding campaign, I want to highly recommend these THREE crucial elements:

1. Get Social!  Build up your social crowd and establish yourself and your brand/product first before launching.  Talk to people, get to know them. In other words, make sure you are well connected and plugged in to your social connections.  I would aim for at least 1,000 in your network, whether that is through Facebook, Twitter, even Google+.   It’s like any business: if no one knows you exist, how can they support and/or purchase your product?

2. PR is as equally important as the product you create and vital to maintaining a steady flow of traffic to your project campaign. Set aside some funds for PR.  Even if it’s only $500-$700, make sure you have some funds for this. There are agencies out there who offer packages at reasonable rates, such as Fundzinger. If you plan to go at it on your own, make sure you are targeting the right blogs, magazines, etc.  Have a list of the contacts ready to go before you launch.  Emails are the best way to reach editors. Send the e-mails before you launch as well as during.  Make the emails personal.  Canned, lengthy templates are not a wise choice. And make sure you follow up! (If the email addresses are not available online, you can call and ask for the specific editors’ email address if it is a magazine like Conde Nast or Hearst Publications).

3. Social “Auto-Pilot” and Organization Get familiar with social media platforms such as Bit.lyHootsuite and Sprout Social. These are excellent tools to help you get organized and track your interactions to see what works, who is listening- Especially if you are a newbie like me and not a social media guru.  Also, it will do you some good to have these platforms working for you on autopilot while you (hopefully!) sleep.  There is a whole other side of the world that is up while we sleep and we can’t forget to include them.

Some say there is no real secret sauce for Kickstarter success, other than having a strong network and tons of views. Perhaps it is a numbers game.  But I have seen marshmallows projects go crazy, underwear sell like it’s a hot commodity and wallets hit (and miss). I think the product has to be a good one, sure, but I also think people are looking to connect with a project and the creator.  It’s more than just product that people want.  They want to feel like they are an integral part of something that moves them, whether it be a fun, humorous way (Period Panties) or in a sort of philanthropic one.

Anyway, those are my thoughts du jour.  Thank you for reading.   And if you are in the neighborhood, stop by my project.  Every click counts!

Go to:  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/284849607/vintage-style-handlebar-bag

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Feeling the Love

Within only 9 days, we have reached our funding goal!  And the good news is, our project is still going strong and we have 16 days to go!

Today I added the photo examples of our “Design Your Own” Reward and I think it really helped people to visualize the Amsterdam bag in their own color choice.  To be honest, I am in love with the Forest Green color!  :)

carmichael and co canvas and leather bike bags, handlebar bag

Happy Valentine’s Day to you and to us!  We are really feeling the love over here and we THANK YOU for the support!

Visit our Kickstarter campaign here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/284849607/vintage-style-handlebar-bag

Follow us on Twitter: @CarmichaelCoUSA
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