Commuter Profile: Alex Vessels


Image Courtesy Andrew Hinderaker

In 2010, you started a reflective clothing company called We-Flashy. How did you end up in that business? My partner Mindy and I were graduate students at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP), which means we kept crazy hours and were always biking and walking around bleary-eyed in the middle of the night. We wanted to be seen, but we also didn’t want to wear a crazy reflective vest, so we started messing around with retroreflective materials with the idea of creating something that would look at home in a bar and a bike lane.

Good answer! It sounds like you know what you’re doing. We don’t! Or, we didn’t anyway. We had so many ideas before We-Flashy. There was a giant inflatable suit and a helmet that looked like a human brain. They were so bad. But when we prototyped We-Flashy and showed it at ITP’s 2010 Winter Exhibition, people really responded positively.

How did you get the business going? We did a Kickstarter to fund the first production run, and it took off from there with lots of press, lots of attention. Now we get orders from all over: London and Berlin and L.A. It’s a lot of work. I feel like I’m always fulfilling orders, but each one is still exciting. Every time I talk about it with my Mom, she’s like ‘Did another friend order something?’ She seems to have a hard time believing that we sell to people who aren’t our friends.

Where did you grow up? Richmond, Virginia.

  Did you bike there? Yes, but I began commuting by bike when I moved to New York City 11 years ago. I’d commute from Morningside Heights to an office in SoHo and then to NYU. Now, I live in Park Slope and mostly ride for fun.

What are you looking forward to? The summer! I’m excited to bike to barbeques and the beach and brunch. Those are some of my favorite New York days.

What kind of bike do you ride? I have a beach cruiser. It’s heavy and slow, and I keep telling myself that I’m going to get something faster, but I love sitting upright and seeing the city when I ride.

What’s next for We-Flashy? We’re super excited for the reflective fashion show at T.A.’s Bike Home from Work Party, and we’ve also got a bunch of new pieces coming out for the summer: tank tops and new prints.

Do you ever see your clothes when you’re out and about? Sometimes, yes, and it’s so fun. The reflective material is so bright. People who walk and jog in the park are wearing our stuff now, and cyclists too. If you’re lined up with a light that’s reflecting off them, they’re like a star. The best is pictures: If there’s a flash, our clothes light up. Seriously, you’re the star of every picture if you’re wearing We-Flashy.

That’s a good tag line! Thanks. Our official one is: We-Flashy: a reflective clothing line for modern times.