Cycle clothing brand Vulpine will be making a few big announcements this week. Sounds like a good time for an interview with founder Nick Hussey…
Vulpine like to do things differently. Set up in Spring 2012, the brand has quickly become a highly visible part of the UK cycling apparel market, garnering praise for both the design and quality of their garments as well as for their inclusive attitude for ‘all things bike’. Simply coloured, elegantly detailed products are backed by a straight-talking, no-nonsense company persona that manages to never lose sight of the inherent fun of riding a bike. However, it was some of Nick’s more serious comments that prompted me to contact him:
One of the (many) unusual features of the UCI presidential election this year was the way that social media was used by people to make their feelings known about a contest in which they had no vote, nor much sway over the 42 people who did. Whilst it was perhaps expected that interested parties such as Jonathan Vaughters would take to the twitter-waves to air their views, it was less expected to see cycling brands publicly hang their hats on one of the candidates’ pegs. Even in a contest as polarised as this one became it does not often make sense for businesses to take sides. So it was refreshing to see Vulpine in particular stepping up to show their colours and make their feelings known. The Jersey Pocket spoke to founder Nick Hussey to see why he had raised the company’s head above the ramparts on this one and found that speaking out is part of Vulpine’s DNA.
TJP – You made a number of references in support of Brian Cookson’s bid to become President of the UCI. Why did you believe it was important to air these views for a race over which no-one outside of the 42 strong delegation had a vote?
Nick Hussey – “Because I care, as do so many. If you care you should act. Because pressure applied in the right places can change opinions. Because encouragement can steel resolve. Mainly because if thousands of people shout at their federations, they look more closely at their candidates and thus you see a real effect like the Irish Federation not voting for McQuaid, which really upset his applecart. Every little counts.
It’s worth noting I wanted Pat McQuaid out, not Cookson in. Cookson has a lot to prove, but he’s doing pretty well so far.”
TJP – Do you think retailers have a responsibility to be leaders and crusaders?
Nick Hussey – “Not retailers per se, people do. We all have a responsibility to do the right thing. We can’t all push the rights things, that’s impossible, there’s too much going on in the world. But I love pro cycling, I am very passionate about women’s racing and support a women’s team, and I love MTB, downhill, all kinds. I saw that the UCI was ruining them or holding them back (and still can do) so I spoke up. I felt a responsibility, because I was angry. So I should do something. We should just do the ‘right thing’. Its simple.”
TJP – Do you see Vulpine as part of the new movement of cycling?
Nick Hussey – “The past is fascinating and useful. But doping is bullshit. Sexism and snobbery is rife in The Old Cycling. I want to help change that. I want to help encourage more and more cycling, but also in the right way. An example might be not dropping litter at sportives, or saying women’s racing is exciting to watch. I love cycling and I want to see it as big and healthy and happy as possible.”
Vulpine recently relinked a year old blogpost of theirs talking about New Cyling. Like most things on their site, it’s written by Nick and worth a read: http://www.vulpine.cc/Blog/british-cycling-companies/the-new-cycling
TJP – How intertwined are your business politics and your personal politics/ethics. For example, can you imagine a scenario where you felt uncomfortable speaking about something that you personally believed in but which wouldn’t be right for the company?
Nick Hussey – “No, Vulpine is an incredibly important part of my life and personality. I wanted to create something I totally believed in and could be proud of, so why not shape it as you’d want it, rather according to some recipe out of a business handbook? You create passion that way. Passion breeds passion. And I believe that means being real, warts and all.
I hope there is no scenario that clashes personally and professionally. Vulpine is heart on sleeve. We shouldn’t have to hide anything.”
TJP – “Passion” is a key part of your retail make-up and, unlike some retailers who use it in advertising, it seems to be totally genuine. How would you describe your passions for cycling and retail.
Nick Hussey – “Retail isn’t something I’m passionate about, in isolation. But I love people, ideas, business and personalities and if that becomes marketing and therefore retail, then great. I can’t do something I’m not passionate about. It’s crushing. I believe that marketing has become this thrum of perfectly manicured shiny nothingness. I think that’s stupid. Why not say something that people can identify with it, or indeed hate? Better than not being heard at all.”
TJP – Vulpine sponsor a Women’s cycle team – Matrix Fitness Racing Academy. How did that come about.
Nick Hussey – “I love racing. I used to race and hardly EVER saw any women, and that was shocking. So much is changing, but too slowly. Women are patronised. Their racing is exciting. Women should be racing the same distances and courses as men. They are made for endurance and pain. Which is what most bike racing is.
I’ve always wanted to be involved in a racing team, so now I am! It’s immense fun to wear your brand on a jersey and to feel connected to it. It’s a personal choice really. Vulpine doesn’t make hardcore racing gear.
I met Stef Wyman [Matrix Fitness Academy Owner/Manager] on twitter and we got talking. I love people who are doers and speak their mind. He is that! I had to help. I am now ramping up support of Stef’s team. It’s another step for us but I am just bursting with excitement. We’re going to smash it!”
TJP – You are pretty voracious user of Twitter. Have you ever regretted a tweet?
Nick Hussey – ” I believe you shouldn’t ever regret anything. But you should learn. If anything I probably regret being so vitriolic against Pat McQuaid. Or personal…I met his son Andrew and spent an evening with him recently. He was a lovely chap. It reminded me we’re always talking about PEOPLE here, not just ideas. I don’t like being hateful. I was too hateful.”
TJP – With victory now in the bag for Brian Cookson what is the next issue that Vulpine will be shouting about?
Nick Hussey – “Vulpine has always talked about issues as and when. In fact really it’s me, not Vulpine. Vulpine is a positive thing, I try not to make it too shouty. However, as @aslongasicycle, I can be a bit more vitriolic! I’ll keep banging on about women’s racing, podium girls, infrastructure and perhaps little light helmet debating (!). I just need to find time to keep up with the issues and actually say some stuff.”
You can read much more about Nick in this excellent interview by Cyclelove.net
Photo credits: Paul Calver calverphoto.com