She combined her love of fashion with a passionate belief in the social benefits of cycling and turned it into a highly popular blog.
Every so often you come across someone with unbridled enthusiasm for whatever it is they do. So it is with Sarah Imm, the editor of Vélo-à-Porter, a blog that seeks to demonstrate that it’s possible to ride bicycles every day, no matter the weather, and maintain an element of style.
Vélo-à-Porter published its first post in January 2015 and it’s been a busy year for both the website and Sarah, who has become a fixture in the stylish cycling cognoscenti of Sydney. To see her riding around Surry Hills on her electrically assisted tricycle is not uncommon, ferrying her two children to school, childcare or after-school classes.
Sarah cycled to work for three years before she started the blog, eschewing Lycra for the heels and dresses she wore in her role as an investment banker. The unexpected selection of cycling attire drew comments each day from passersby and co-workers, prompting her to inspire and encourage more cyclists to ride with “style and for life”. Another motivation to start the blog was the birth of her second child. Time became more precious and her focus shifted from the corporate sector to the community. Vélo-à-Porter struck a chord: the interest during the first month was phenomenal and it hasn’t stopped since.
Sarah seeks to create social change for city dwellers who, she believes, benefit the most from cycling. More specifically, her target audience is 30- to 50-year-old parents and/or working professionals who are time-poor, juggling work and life. She maintains that incorporating a bike into routines like dropping off kids or shopping can eliminate the need for additional exercise.
Female cyclists also form a major section of her readership. For them, the blog provides a welcome introduction to the wide world of bikes. Sarah wants to demonstrate that it’s possible to be fashionable on the bicycle, especially by using an e-bike.
Investment banking turned out to be a great primer for Vélo-à-Porter. “I learned an enormous amount about the value of applying and testing yourself and starting something new every few years,” she says.
Now, the opportunity to be creative is the reason to get out of bed each day, forging new ideas, relationships and collaborations with partners in the bike and fashion industries. “Vélo-à-Porter is more than a blog now,” says Sarah. “It’s become a lifestyle brand as I post fashion, food, bicycling and life photos on social media, which show how the bicycle has permeated all aspects of my life.”
She recently ran her How to Bicycle With Style workshop at the Sydney Rides Festival and in Melbourne at the Sustainable Living Festival. Cycling in Australia and other countries faces what can sometimes appear to be overwhelming opposition, but that gives Sarah something to push against. She’s using social media for positive change. “Since I started the blog a year ago,” she says, “the issues I write about have become more complex and interesting.”
In her opinion, others are better at organising rallies and advocacy, she prefers to be the voice of positivity and practicality. She declares: “It’s highly subversive, but it’s visible and aspirational at the same time.”
With an optimistic outlook tempered by professional experience, Sarah, with Vélo-à-Porter, is sure to be a fine ambassador for our culture.
Words: Adam Leddin
This article originally appeared in Treadlie 18.