Driving is in her blood.
Imogen Lehtonen has been round bikes her total life. As she grew older, driving grew to become greater than only a solution to get from level A to level B. “Driving has saved me in contact with my dad,” Lehtonen says. “Once I was youthful, I all the time knew I used to be going to journey a bike as a result of I used to take a seat on the again of his bike with him. He was identified with most cancers and given a 12 months and a half to stay, however ended up getting seven years. To this present day, every time I’m on my bike he’s proper there in my helmet and it makes me really feel near him.”
Lehtonen was born a ground above her household’s London jewellery retailer, The Nice Frog, however spent most of her childhood between New Zealand and the US. New Zealand gave her an appreciation for the outside, however the States taught her the best way to journey. “Yearly, we’d journey to Florida to go to my dad’s household,” Lehtonen says. “We’d take the bikes out and there have been no different vehicles on the highway, so it might be a free-for-all of figuring it out. I keep in mind following my dad and there was no gradient between the place the highway ended and the grass started. I obtained to know the streets round my aunt’s place and I began experimenting with bike yoga—standing on the seat or taking each fingers off. Since then, it’s simply been a relentless studying expertise.”
Studying the best way to journey in Florida made Lehtonen fall in love with bike tradition and as a younger grownup, she packed up her life and moved world wide to California. Initially, her plan was to attend faculty and pursue instructing; as a substitute, she determined to affix the household enterprise. “I grew up with each bikes and jewellery being a part of my world, however they didn’t actually come collectively till I moved to California,” Lehtonen says. “I pitched the thought to my cousin about opening a Nice Frog in America, as a result of on the time it was simply the South London retailer. Since we opened our important flagship retailer on Melrose, it’s turn into an amalgamation of each cultures. We all the time have a bike on show within the window and a variety of the group I do know by means of driving finally ends up carrying our jewellery.”
Lehtonen has blended in seamlessly with the American bike scene since making the transfer. At first, her father was one of many solely bike fanatics she rode with, however she quickly grew a love for the bonding expertise of a gaggle journey. “Again in 2015, I used to be invited by Harley-Davidson to journey a cross-country journey with just a few different ladies,” Lehtonen says. “We flew into Brooklyn and rode all the best way to San Francisco over the course of a month. It occurred to be on the one 12 months anniversary of my dad’s passing, so it was a extremely particular expertise to honor him on this journey. I used to be on a Harley-Davidson broad glide with huge eight hangers and we zig-zagged throughout the nation, taking our time.” Amidst Lehtonen’s journey, which might take her lady gang by means of the cities and plains of the US, the group determined to commemorate their journey with a tattoo.
“We have been in Nashville and we have been wanting into discovering an area tattoo artist to do our tattoo,” Lehtonen says. “However then we have been like, ‘Why don’t we fly out our buddy Derrick Snodgrass from California?’ He ended up popping out to our Airbnb and he tattooed all of us there. Our journey was named ‘The Freeway Runaways,’ so all of us obtained that with a winged bike and a coronary heart.”
This journey launched Lehtonen to different ladies within the bike world, a demographic that’s rising quickly. Whereas she cherishes all of the relationships she’s made by means of driving, there’s one thing particular in regards to the ladies who journey. “The group has morphed and adjusted rather a lot since I first obtained into it,” Lehtonen says. “An increasing number of ladies are entering into driving, which is superior. I’ve a variety of respect for ladies who get into it and it’s modified my life. I believe a variety of the ladies I do know have turn into actually obsessed with it as a result of it’s a variety of enjoyable.”
As Lehtonen has turn into extra obsessed with driving, she’s found an curiosity in bike constructing. Whereas that is nonetheless a brand new enterprise for her, she has an inkling she’ll be capable of catch on shortly. “Once I’m customized sizing a chunk of knickknack, I’m utilizing handsaws, information, electrical hand instruments and buffing/sharpening machines,” Lehtonen says. “It’s sort of the identical realm as bike constructing, simply on a smaller scale. The talents I’ve discovered through the years by working with my fingers, intrinsically understanding the best way to put issues collectively and the way issues ought to look, ties in effectively with bikes. Having to run the shop and workshop hasn’t given me an excessive amount of time to tinker with bikes, however I’d like to finally be capable of put collectively a motorbike from scratch and mess around with metallic shaping.”
Lehtonen has rather a lot on her plate on the subject of working her enterprise and making time to get in rides to the mountains. However even in what little spare time she has, she finds a solution to hold herself busy. “I undoubtedly need to begin working alone private line of knickknack,” Lehtonen says. “I’ve notebooks of designs and little lumps of wax that I play with right here and there that I’d wish to refine into my very own assortment. I didn’t have a TV rising up, so after college I’d throw knives and axes with my dad in my yard. I’ve all the time had an affinity for knives and I’d wish to do some assortment of knife and dagger based mostly jewellery.”
Whereas to the surface world bikes and jewellery could seem as completely different as could be, they arrive collectively seamlessly for Imogen Lehtonen. She’s made these communities her residence and alongside the best way, has turn into much more linked to her roots. And that’s one thing she’ll take along with her, from one journey to the following.