> Women Who Ride: Q&A With Laura Buono Of Hummingbird Athletic | CITY GIRL RIDES

Women Who Ride: Q&A With Laura Buono Of Hummingbird Athletic

08 October, 2018

In honor of Women's Bike Month, I'm excited to share with you an interview from the founder of women's specific kit brands, Hummingbird Athletic. Los Angeles based Laura Buono has made quite the impression with her unique and fun designs, drawing inspiration from nature. Like most women, Buono was dissatisfied will poor fitting kit so she set out to make it herself. Many of my friends have raved to me about Laura's fun designs and over all accommodation and ultra kindness when it comes to ordering for their bodies specific needs - something I know many of us women struggle with. I am so happy to have been able to exchange words with Laura and now it's my pleasure to introduce Laura Buono of Hummingbird Athletic.

Tell us about your bike story. How did you get into cycling?

The story about how I got into cycling is kind of interesting. I used to be a professional dancer/performer from the time I was about 5 years old. Touring and performing in such shows as Les Miserables, A Chorus Line, Annie, Gypsy; just to name a few. By the time I was 21, I ended up already having surgery on both my knees. At one point in my life, I was living in The Netherlands, where I continued my dancing and choreography career. It was also during that time I started riding motorcycles which I loved more than anything else. I returned to The States in 2010 and ended up here in Los Angeles. I danced for a couple more years but my body was finally starting to give. That’s when I started working in TV/Film Production. I buried myself working show after show, taking no time for myself. I missed being physical, I missed being passionate about something. I desperately needed something to fill that void. I thought about getting a motorcycle again, but riding in LA can be very dangerous, so I decided against it. 

A few years later, I met a very special man. Our story was simply this; We got to know each other, we dated, and are now madly in love. Yay! He was once a competitive cyclist as a teenager back in the 80s, and at one point ranked 10th in the nation. Very early on in our relationship, I ended up having yet another surgery, this time for my left shoulder. He stepped in, without hesitation, and took care of me. During my recovery, he asked if I had ever ridden a bike before. He knew about my past and thought cycling might be worth a try. Just 5 days after surgery and being laid up in bed, I wanted to venture out and look for a bike. With my arm still immobilized in a sling, I found myself walking out a bike shop with a brand new bike in my hand, (the good hand of course). That was 4 years ago, and now, here I am!

Can you tell us a little bit about your brand and how it came about?

My brand came about simply because I wasn’t able to find women’s cycling apparel that I loved and believed in. I’d go into stores where I was overwhelmed with so many options for men. Cool styles, fun patterns, numerous brands to choose from. I’d ask where the women’s section was... and let’s just say I was incredibly underwhelmed. I was so disappointed time after time. I was craving design esthetic, I wanted form and function, I wanted something cool, I was looking for decent prices, I was checking out tags to see where it was made, I didn’t want my legs to look like stuffed sausages in shorts. Options, hello? Anybody? Bueller? I wanted to look good! Why was this so hard? That’s when I thought, ‘you know what, I’ll do it myself.

What inspires your kit design?

My kit designs are inspired by a number of things. I wanted our designs to cover a variety of tastes. Something fun, pretty, zen-like, if you will. Something that stands out but is not gaudy. The intention behind the patters is simply this; if I were to see a nice shirt, or a wrap dress, for example, in any of these patterns, would I wear it? Ok, so where to go from here? How can I make this vision come to life? 

It just so happens that my boyfriend’s mother is a hobby artist. She had just finished taking some watercolor classes and she was looking for some fun new projects. We put our heads together and came up with a lot different ideas. Flowers, ice creams cones, pineapples, feathers, cactus, birds...you name it! We settled on our top picks, scanned them into the computer and created our first collection. 

Even the brand name, Hummingbird Athletic, was inspired by nature. In the evenings out on the deck, I’d see little hummingbirds flying around. Sometimes stopping to take a break on a branch, feed from our flowers; sometimes it was almost as if they were having a little ‘hummingbird meet-up.’ I thought to myself, ‘man, those are some bad-ass little birds!’ Not only are they extremely independent, they are unlike any other bird. They have been a symbol of happiness and joy for many many years, yet are truly unique within their own species. It’s exactly what I wanted this brand to be all about.

What are you hoping to accomplish as a women’s cycling kit brand?

My main goal is to create a brand and a line products that everyone loves, not just women. I want this brand to be seen as a brand that people believe in and care about. I want every woman out there to know that every detail that we put into our designs, material, jerseys, bib shorts, and accessories, is specifically designed with every body in mind. I want to raise the bar and set an example so that bigger companies will have to take notice, encouraging them to raise their bar as well. I want women to feel like they are part of the entire cycling community, not just ‘women’s cycling’ specifically. 

This brand is designed for every type of cyclist, from pro level to weekend warriors. I want to be an advocate for ethically made products produced by people who understand the needs of cyclists. It is so important for me, personally, that we promote the importance of where and how garments are made and where it comes from. I want people to feel proud to be part of the Hummingbird brand, knowing that what they buy is supporting a lifestyle and standard for the future of women’s cycling.

What words of advice would you give for women looking for kit?

If I could give any advice, here’s what I’d tell women to look for when shopping for kits. First of all, what kind of cyclist are you? Road, cross, mountain, spin? There are different styles of cycling clothing for different types of cycling. It’s important to buy gear that is specific to your sport. 

Second, what’s your personal style? Do you feel more comfortable in classic looking styles, or do you like to wear styles that are more fun and quirky? 

Third, try things on. Online shopping is probably where most of us shop, so make sure you understand the return/ exchange policy. Keep in mind that cycling apparel is supposed to be form fitting. It’s not just for aerodynamics, it’s also for safety. Not only can it get caught somewhere on your bike but it can also damage your skin if it’s rubbing or moving. On that note, the best piece of advice I can give is to NOT wear underwear under your bib shorts. Bib shorts and chamois are designed to act as protection and help everything breathe. And once again, make sure they are form fitting. When you’re in the saddle, you don’t want anything rubbing or moving. Chaffing and irritation in that area is super painful and can keep you from riding. Nobody wants that! 

Fourth, look at the tags. Where is it made? Where is your money going? Cycling apparel can be expensive. If you don’t feel comfortable dishing out almost $200 for a jersey, don’t, but don’t buy one for $40 either. The apparel you wear is just as important as any piece of technical equipment, so try and find something that is good quality and worth your money. 

Lastly, understand weather conditions and what you need for different types of weather. Layer up! Wear pieces that can also be removed as your body temperature rises. Arm warmers, vests/gilets, jackets are some good examples.

How active are you in your local bike community? Any rides or events coming up?

In between working full-time, freelance gigs here and there, I have Hummingbird. I am fortunate enough to be able to host and lead a group ride every Monday evening called, ‘The Really Really Fun Ride.’ And it’s just that, ‘really, really fun’! I created this ride for people who may be just starting out, people who are getting back into cycling, but also for people who may have had hard weekend in the saddle. It gives them a chance to recover, and chill so their bodies can stay healthy. It’s a fun, socially driven ride meant for both men and women, any age, at any level. 

We meet at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, CA around 5:45pm and roll at 6pm. We do about 20 miles, a little bit of climbing, some fun downhills, through some cool neighborhoods. My favorite part is I can always hear people laughing and having a good time. When I look around, all I see are smiling faces, and that to me, is all I care about; THAT is what cycling is about. 

In the future, I’m hoping to start my own YouTube channel. Featuring content about bike safety, getting to know your bike technically, how to change a tire, what to keep in your saddle bag, health and nutrition, maybe even some hair tutorials for fun styles to wear under your helmet. We’re not stopping, so stay tuned!

Follow Hummingbird Athletic 
Instagram: @hummingbirdathletic
Website: www.hummingbirdathletic.com
Facebook: Search Hummingbird Athletic or https://www.facebook.com/hummingbirdathletic/

YouTube: Search Hummingbird Athletic or https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCws8Ba6SFMREmNcJtj4YCYQ

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