Andrew Hancock, 33, Los Angeles CA, USA, Tobacco Motorwear, Owner
I started riding by getting a Kawasaki KX450F. That’s not really the bike you learn on, but it forced me to learn quickly. Funny thing is, learning how to ride a bike taught me to drive a manual transmission car too. It’s the same principal of clutch and throttle! I then got a 70’s Honda Goldwing that I rode for a couple weeks and then sold. Currently I am on a HD Sportster 1200.
Oh man, this gives me anxiety. I worry because new riders don’t know, what they don’t know. Meaning they are out riding in ignorance. I always think that the best things to happen to any rider is a series of near misses. Near misses teach you without killing you. They reveal the blind spots that you didn’t know you had. Every rider of every experience level has blind spots, and a new rider has so many, they might as well be riding with a blindfold. So pay attention, don’t listen to music, be 100% present and always assume every single car wants to murder you. That’s worked for me at least.
Long story short, my partner wanted a pair of Kevlar jeans and wanted a good looking pair that didn’t cost 500 US dollars. He said “I live in LA, the fashion capitol of the country, why don’t’ I just make my own pair” so he looked up “denim suppliers” on google maps and walked into places asking about how to make a pair of jeans. He thought that if he wanted a pair of denim like this, maybe other people would want it too. We launched a kickstarter campaign in the fall of 2014 and turns out 501 other people wanted the same thing. Those original 501 kickstarter backers are very lovingly called BLDR’s as they are builders that have helped us build this company. We have gone on to launch more kickstaters and launch more products and have always tried to provide the best looking protective apparel available.
Our female line at Tobacco has presented the biggest challenges we have faced as a company. It has been 3 years since we did the kickstarter campaign specifically for womens jeans and we have been improving the fit of the jeans ever since. We design the hard way, where we get a sample made, get it on a body, take notes, get another sample made and just iterate and iterate and iterate again. We are super proud of how far we have come and how people react when they get the jeans on.
I think this video speaks for itself:
As with anything in life, I am convinced that 90% of it is just being around long enough. We have done a couple different events every single year and the very first time we did them, no one knew who we were. They walked by our booth and didn’t even give us a second look, but now when we go to the event, everyone is like an old friend. We’ve all been going to the events for years now and you make friends. You can only get that with time and it's nice to start seeing that.
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