Every so often, BIKEASAURUS likes to highlight the talents and personality of one of our beloved local crafters. This time around, we checked in with Gigi Lascurettes, the artist behind the always-popular Helmuffs®. Gigi’s Helmuffs® (earmuffs that attach to your helmet straps) are the perfect solution to riding with cold ears and we love selling them here at BIKEASAURUS. They’re our favorite type of product: clever, practical and locally-made!
1. When and where did you get the idea for Helmuffs®?
About 4 years ago, in the Spring. I rode regularly with a group, and it was very nippy, but I don’t like hats or headbands under my helmet – I sweat too much and it’s uncomfortable for me – but my ears were cold. I started padding just my ears by stuffing cloth under my straps. At that time, I couldn’t find products that could cover just my ears. Then I sewed up something more stable from a shrunken wool sweater I had. Then friends wanted me to make pairs for them. Then friends of friends began asking, and offered to pay for my time and materials, thus the start of my business.
2. How many pairs do you think you’ve made?
Probably close to 400 pairs. And I’ve yet to see a single rider with them on! Luckily, I do have friends who can make that claim, so I know they’re being used.
3. Have you made any changes to the original Helmuffs® design?
Oh sure. At first I thought they needed to be more stiff, so I had added materials for that purpose, but then came to realize it was not needed. I added pillows as additions for use with Nutcase-type helmets (whose strap placement is away from the face). Most recently, I’ve also slightly widened the design to accommodate wider helmet strap placements and began making fleece ones in addition to the original wool ones, for those people who don’t do wool.
4. What is the most popular color and/or design?
Simple black and dark grays really. Of course the reflective skull and cross bones go very well. The next are the various flower appliques I’ve created. Reflective styles are also really appreciated.
5. How long have you been in Portland? Do you think it’s a good place for your product?
I’ve been in Portland now for over eight years. Portland is an EXCELLENT place for Helmuffs®! We’re so into biking here as a regular way of life. Cold and wet is part of what it is to live here so we look for products that help us keep biking comfortable. The culture here also appreciates my re-use of otherwise ruined or discarded wool and fleece clothing; re-purposing/up-cycling is understood as a really good thing.
6. How else do you spend your time?
I have an 8 year old boy so I get to volunteer at his school helping field trips and other class projects, as well as working with the SCRIP team to help raise money for the school. Occasionally I do some small database projects (my previous profession), but that hasn’t happened too often these last years with the economy. And when the season rolls around, lots of long-distance cycling. I like doing centuries.
7. Do you have any plans for new products?
I definitely have more products in mind. In fact I already have working models of hip bags. And I have plans for reflective hand accessories to help with cycling visibility/recognition. These things are items I’ve found useful for my needs, so I hope others will too.
Previous Featured Crafters:
Amy Erickson, Firefly Gear
Trent Stocking, Rhythmic Metal
Domenika Radonich, Whip Stitch Wares
Lanette Fidrych, Cycle Dog
Brian Echerer, Velo Gioielli
Julien Jaborska, Rebicyclist
Amanda Siska, Bread and Badger
Carye Bye, Red Bat Press
Fred DiMeglio, Man vs Ink
Curtis Williams, North St Bags