YNOT Cycle’s Laura Mensinga on their new shop and on being our new dandy designer

Photograph by Danielle DaSilva http://www.danielledasilva.com

Laura Mensinga on YNOT's new shop, and on becoming our new dandyhorse designer 

Interview by Tammy Thorne, photos below by Laura Mensinga

YNOT Cycle. Sounds like a good motto for living if you ask me. YNOT Cycle is a Toronto-based business that makes solid bike accessories. The YNOT team make durable and good looking bags and accessories right here in Toronto - that can now be purchased out of their new storefront at 831 Queen Street West.

YNOT's Laura Mensinga has joined the dandyhorse team to design our upcoming "Pedal Pride"  issue which will focus on Toronto's bike plan and feature interviews with top mayoral candidates. Laura's been working at YNOT for three years and is really engaged in both the art and bike scenes in Toronto and beyond, so we decided to do a quick Q&A with her to say: Welcome! to the dandy stable and congratulations to YNOT on their new shop.

When and why did you join the YNOT team?

I joined the YNOT team back in the spring of 2011. The guys had just moved the two-man operation out of a garage on Croft street and into a studio in the Junction, and were looking with some extra help. Before long I was doing a little bit of everything, and decided it was something worth sticking around for. Now, three years later I head up all of our graphic and visual content, we design products collaboratively, and occasionally I'll still hop back on and help with production. It's nice to make things with with your hands, and I think knowing all the steps that go into a finished product makes you a better designer at the end of the day. One of the benefits of working with a smaller company like YNOT, is things definitely never get boring.
Photo above and below of the YNOT shop are by Laura Mensinga.
How's it going at the new YNOT shop?
Great! We just celebrated the grand opening of our official YNOT flagship store at 831 Queen West, showcasing our full line of messenger bags and backpacks. It's been a great opportunity for people to come right to the source, and for us to get direct feedback from the individuals who actually ride with our gear daily. We've also been turning out lots of awesome custom bags on the sewing machines at our Build Bar. I'm a big advocate for local manufacturing, and we're trying our best to show people that it can be done, and done well. Everything we produce at YNOT is actually handmade in Toronto, and I think the sewing machines in-store are a good reminder of that. Also it give a little behind-the-scenes sneak peak into our process, and lots of people love seeing how things are made. (Here's a video from the launch party.)
Did you edit the launch party video?
I did, and I edit all of our videos. But shooting that night was particularly fun! Toronto has a wonderful bike scene full of amazing people, and I'm so proud to be a part of it. The turnout at our launch party made us feel super supported and loved! It was enjoyable getting to capture all that in a video.
What is your favourite YNOT product right now?
My Gulper roll-top backpack is my go-to. It's like a clown car of a bag, fitting everything and anything I could possibly want, while still looking great, staying comfortable and keeping its contents nice and dry. Also, as a female rider, sometimes it's really difficult to find cycling-specific gear that isn't too broad and over-sized, but still can take a beating and hold a lot. And I find the Gulper to be a great versatile gender neutral option. We also have a bunch of new products dropping in time for summer, but for now those are still top secret!
What are your favourite places to ride (in Toronto and elsewhere)?
The westend railpath is hands down my favourite stretch to ride in Toronto. It's so hidden away, and beautifully overgrown in the summer time. It's also fun seeing the ever changing graff pieces that cover the rail corridor. I adore art in public spaces, and while the path still gets buffed occasionally, it's never bare for long.

What do you think the City of Toronto should do to improve it's bike plan on the ground?

There's so much that could and should be done in our city. I love the idea of connecting the railpath with the Martin Goodman waterfront trail by[via] Fort York. I think it would connect two great cycling arteries in Toronto. But I also think it's important to create more spaces for bikes on the roads too. I think our infrastructure, moving forward, needs to accommodate everyone who uses our streets - bikes, cars, pedestrians and public transit. I've travelled a lot with my bike, and there are many other cities, with equally complex infrastructure like New York or Montreal doing it, so why aren't we making more space for bikes.

How do fashion and cycling intersect?
I'm less of a function over fashion, and more of a functional fashion kind of girl. I see no reason, why you can't ride a bike and look great doing it. I love designing at YNOT for that very reason, getting the chance to create things that serve a very real purpose, but doing so in a clean, intentional and aesthetically pleasing way.

When did you first see dandyhorse and why do you think it's important for the city to have an independent bike magazine?I first heard of dandyhorse back at the very beginning when the magazine proposed a photo spread of my all-girl bike gang/design collective The Deadly Nightshades! Back then we had only been established for a year, and it all still had the feeling of a joke taken too far. We were amazed and very excited that anyone legitimate wanted to cover our antics. Since then however, DNS has loved embarking on countless collaborative projects on our own, and also being involved in dandyhorse over the years. I think six years in, this magazine has done a wonderful job of being an independent voice in the city for cyclists, and depicting the unique bike scene that is Toronto. No one else is really doing so in such a dedicated way here. And I couldn't be more excited for the opportunity to help shape the next issue of dandyhorse.


Thanks Laura! We're excited too. Oh and my favourite YNOT product? I love these coozies below, but I also have a YNOT beer thong that was gifted to me at the launch party for our fourth issue that I'm very fond of.

STAY TUNED! Our upcoming "Pedal Pride" issue of dandyhorse magazine will be hitting Toronto's rainbow-coloured streets in June.
Related on the dandyBLOG:
YNOT: Bike accessories biz goes boom (from our summer 2012 issue)
dandyARCHIVE: The Deadly Nightshades (photos by John Lee from issue one!)
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