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I can’t remember the exact day but I know it was September of 2013. My friend who had attended fashion school had just moved back to town and I thought to myself, “Oh good, we can get together to catch up and maybe she can show me a thing or two about pattern making!” Up until that point, I only had rudimentary pattern and sewing knowledge, gained from a high school home economics class and my mom and grandma.
During a handful of post-work hangouts, a few patterns took shape. Those first patterns and subsequent prototypes were interesting, to say the least. Many of them did not see the light of day, but can still be found in a bin in my basement. I don’t seem to have the heart to get rid of them. Some of them were actually worn quite a bit as early test pieces. Who knows, some of the decent ones may make a comeback someday!
It’s hard to remember exactly when the idea for Kaden started but it was likely around 2011 or 2012 that I started dreaming of creating a women’s mountain bike apparel brand that would fill a gaping hole in the market. I had just started biking myself and the need for women’s specific MTB clothing was very apparent.
Though the idea didn’t yet have a name, it wouldn’t feel right to mark our beginning as when our first item was sold (during a 2017 Kickstarter), as that would negate the years of pattern making, prototyping, fabric sourcing, planning, developing, and questioning that went into those first pieces. Instead, I feel it’s only right to mark the beginning as when I first took pencil to paper and started hand crafting the inaugural pieces.
I often think that the early days were the hardest. Self-doubt nearly killed Kaden many times and weeks and months would go by in between my working on it. I was nervous to tell others about it for fear of them “stealing” my idea. If I had to do those early days over again, I would have tried to get some products into the market earlier. The saying about “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression” was stuck in my head and fortunately or unfortunately led to (too) many rounds of tweaks and revisions before I felt confident to launch the first two jerseys. As somewhat of a perfectionist, I had to let go of the idea that maybe everything wasn’t 100% perfect in my eyes and accept that pretty damn great was still perfectly fine. To me, something could always be better but it’s important to learn when to just let it go. Getting feedback from real customers would be the ultimate test. Luckily, all that time spent refining the patterns and fabrics really paid off and our first jerseys were lauded by those who tried them.
While I can’t believe it’s been a decade since I started creating those first pieces, a lot has changed and a lot has stayed the same. Our offerings have grown and evolved into shorts, chamois, ¾ sleeves, tank tops, and accessories. What hasn’t changed is our unwavering commitment to making the best cycling apparel for women. We’re still 100% woman-owned and operated, still manufacturing our cut-and-sew garments in the USA, and still listening to our customers and refining when needed.
For those who have been around since the early days, I just want to say thank you for following along with our journey. For those who have supported us as customers, vendors, advisors, and partners, an immense amount of gratitude goes out to you too. We without a doubt wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for our amazing customers so THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart.
I can’t wait to discover the exciting opportunities, challenges, and fun the next 10 years bring!