Fondo came about from a frustration shared by many a female cyclist. There just wasn’t any kit out there for the girls.
Work colleagues and friends Anna Thomson, Kate Palethorpe and Emma Grella would often complain about the lack of quality female cycling apparel on the market. They used to joke that if they wanted good kit, they’d have to make it themselves.
Then one day the joking stopped.
That was more than two years ago, when Anna had resigned from the workplace where they’d all met, and Kate had gone on maternity leave. Suddenly all three found themselves in a position to walk the talk. And then it happened – the three friends became business partners, and Fondo was launched.
Meaning ‘bottom’ in Spanish and Italian, the trio was pretty taken by the word Fondo and the idea they’d be creating comfy kit for cycling bums. The link to epic long rides sealed the deal – Fondo was the perfect name for this exciting venture. From the onset the three were clear – they wanted bright, bold, colourful kit designed by females for females. The journey was as much about what they didn’t want as it was about what they did; no monochromatic schemes, no thoughtless generic styles. They sourced a manufacturer in Italy who could not only provide them with high quality performance material, but also work with their specific requests.
Subtle considerations included:
Longer arm sleeves (which would easily go over the tops of arm warmers in the winter, something the three were usually hard-pressed to find in other kits)
Knicks that would help compress forms and avoid bulging
Zippers for getting in and out of gear fast and easy (definitely a great feature in the middle of winter when you need a toilet break!)
Fondo gathered fans fast; women were hungry for comfortable, considerate, cool kit versus an after-thought.
There are already three designs in the range (launched about 18 months ago now); Geo, Snow and Disco. The plan is to release two new ranges a year but short-term the three are flat out preparing to launch a Melbourne based women’s race team as well as a suite of cold weather apparel including vests, arm warmers and jackets.
They’re also hosting regular local rides for women who want to challenge themselves on the bike, but are bored with the usual suspects like Beach Rd. Instead, Fondo rides explore lesser-known destinations with ride profiles that really give things a nudge so cyclists feel like they’ve pushed themselves and achieved.
A lot like Fondo’s plans in general, really.
Anna, Kate and Emma aren’t taking the easy road - they’re balancing their existing work life with their new business. So they have their ‘day career’ and then go home to spend the evenings and nights working on Fondo; dispatching orders, finding design inspiration, responding to customer enquiries, managing the development of their team.
In short – running a new business.
Head out on rides along the eastern sea board, Adelaide and even in Perth, and you’ll see more and more Fondo. It’s no surprise, really. There’s more and more females out there who want to push themselves to achieve on the bike. And that’s exactly the kind of female cyclist who isn’t going to settle with mediocre apparel.