Thousand CEO Gloria Hwang Is Making Bike Helmets Cool
The CEO of Thousand shares why she feels passionate about bike helmets
Gloria Hwang rode her bike to work every day for years without a helmet. She thought it looked goofy. Then her career mentor died from a head injury sustained in a bike crash—sans helmet. Committed to shifting habits, she merged style and safety in a design that overcame all her reasons for not wanting to wear one. Thousand is the result.
“Commuting around Los Angeles, I would count how many riders were wearing helmets. It was only about 10 to 15 percent. For people riding a hundred miles a week, wearing a helmet is standard. For the recreational community, less so.”
“Design isn’t just supposed to be beautiful. It’s supposed to solve problems. For example, people hate carrying helmets around, but they also worry about leaving them behind. So we designed a feature that lets you thread your bike’s U-lock through the helmet.”
“If your lid gets stolen when it’s stashed outside with our Pop-Lock system, we’ll replace it. We also have an accident replacement policy. If you’re ever in a crash, we’ll send you a new helmet for free. Since 2016, we’ve replaced 389.”
“I believe there is an authentic desire among people in the bike industry to attract diverse riders. But that requires more than a pipeline or good marketing. It means creating a culture that’s equitable and inclusive, where people feel valued and safe. Women, or the BIPOC and queer communities, might enjoy cycling. But if they always feel like outsiders, they won’t stay.”
“As a woman of color in the bike industry, I’d go to a trade show and never see anyone who looked like me. In the beginning, I tried to blend in. Later, though, a mentor told me that my otherness was the reason Thousand was succeeding. I had a different perspective on what the market wanted. Now I believe that outsider perspective is the most valuable thing I can offer to an industry I’ve really come to love.”