What's your name and where'd you come from?
My name is Monika and I'm originally from Krakow in Poland. I moved to London in 2009 to do my Master's in Fashion Marketing at London College of Fashion. I did one of my assignments about cycle wear. At the end of writing of that assignment I was working in the cycling industry, and by the time I graduated I was working with Bobbin Bicycles on expanding their brand. It all worked out really well for me.
Photo: Huw Williams
Tell us about what you do...
I've been involved in a bunch of projects aimed at getting more women to ride their bikes. I recently have gone on a little mission to get more ladies to dip their toes in racing as well.
Like many other girls I gave up on sports when I was a teenager and like many other young women I would not sweat to save my life.
I decided I will start commuting on a bike when moved to London, believe me or not, cycling here still seems much safer then back home! And you know what? This was possibly the greatest decision I've ever made in my life. Because of cycling I can get places easily, I met loads of people and made many friends, it helped me deal with my body image issues, provides me with constant challenges and it's a lot of FUN.
I founded House of Astbury together with my housemates at the time, Ester and Ren.
We wanted to create cycling-friendly products that challenge street harassment and body image issues, as well as make people more visible on the road, so we started screen printing with reflective ink. HoA is all about empowering messages, challenging barriers to cycling and creating products that people would really want to wear, on and off the bike.
While working on HoA I came to my first ever Women and Gender Variant (WaG) Night at London Bike Kitchen, and of course I started volunteering. WaG Nights mainly focus on teaching people how to fix their bikes, but we've started organizing talks about history of cycling, commuting, preparing for long-distance rides, joining cycling clubs etc. It's a great friendly space where people can ask any questions. Over the summer we organised our first all day event - WaGFest at the Oakley pop-up space, with guest speakers and stalls from independent bike brands. We have another all-day event coming up on 28th of November at the DIY Space for London!
Along the way I was lucky to bump into the Brixton Cycles Cycling Club lot. I remember begging them to drop me at some of my first club runs, but they wouldn't. In the process of trying to get faster I decided to have a go at racing cyclocross and track. Any ladies (or anyone) out there thinking about trying competitive cycling, go join your local cycling club! These guys will tell you all you need to know about training and racing, and probably will come and cheer you on on the finish line as well.
As my day job I work behind the scenes at Pearson Cycles - the oldest bikes shop in the world.
I am making sure that the business can fly through another 155 years and more!
Polkadot, green or yellow?
Polkadot for life! I will climb for views and my pub bike is all covered in polkadots.
We love your cafetiere tattoo. Tell us more!
haha. Thanks! Well, I just love coffee so much I got a cafetiere tattooed on my thigh, which I love a little less ;)
It's based on a print done by a friend of a friend. Check out Olly T's website and his ace 'Bike Thieves Break Hearts' print and other coffee-themed designs!
Recovery shake or beer?
I'm pretty sure beer is a recovery drink...
What's your fancy dress outfit of choice?
Tell us what you secretly love/hate about London...
Big Smoke! I love that there is so much going on in London, you can never get bored, but it can also get very overwhelming and that's when I jump on my bike and pedal outside of the M25!
Do you have a killer signature dish?
Vegan fish pie. It's made entirely from tofu, potatoes and secret ingredients.
If it wasn't cycling what would you be on the podium for?
I like to think it would be baking. I would like to win the baking competition at the Big Dog in Brighton as much as I would like to finish that 6h mountain bike race...
This is part of our model showcase and the awesome women who ride bikes featured in our photoshoot.
Women's Podium Pants now available here.