Why you should care
Because, c’mon, wear a helmet. Not convinced? Try on Danielle Baskin’s designs.
First of all, it must be said: I am not a cyclist. I take the good ol’ bus to work. I feel totally left out of the city bike share revolution sweeping the globe. Because I can’t even ride a bike, OK? Just please don’t tell my five-year-old daughter, as we’re currently trying to get her off training wheels.
But I recently came across these absolutely gorgeous hand-painted helmets that make me finally want to learn. In the meantime, I love this red apple so much I think I might buy it just to, you know, wear walking around town, à la Natalie Portman in Garden State.
Twenty-five-year-old Danielle Baskin, the founder/painter/sole designer of Inkwell Helmets (forrmerly Belle Helmets), never used to wear a bike helmet, until she realized that riding through New York’s streets is freaking scary, and she should. “But they always felt so weird and bulky and heavy.” So she decided to try to make her helmet invisible. She painted a blue sky with trees and clouds, and she felt better.
Then she painted different helmets for different times of day, sunset or nighttime. Soon, people started chatting her up at intersections. “Where’d you get that helmet?” they’d ask. And so her one-woman business was born. “I’m not even some ‘wearing a helmet should be a law’ person,” says Baskin. “But if you want to wear one, I think you should have more options than just mass-produced bright pink.”
Since 2009 she’s hand-painted 450 helmets in 50 different designs — giraffe skins, solar systems, kiwis, honeycombs, the globe — which sell for $150-$250, or for the especially intricate Phrenology Chart, which takes her around 10 hours to complete, $300. She does custom requests, too. Her helmets sell in bike stores from New York to Norway to Australia and can be purchased made-to-order via her own site.
The helmets are not cheap. But there’s good news for bike commuters everywhere: Baskin has recently launched her more affordable vinyl collection, 15 designs at $75 a pop, very reasonable considering the unpainted Seven Star helmets sell for around $60.
City bike shares continue to pop up from Paris to San Francisco, Denver, Phoenix, Chicago, Boston. As more cyclists take to the streets, and as everyone from experts to first-timers (like maybe even me) start tooling around the crowded streets, shouldn’t these bike-sharing programs come with helmets, too?
I see a mass-produced Golden Gate Bridge or Eiffel Tower series in Inkwell Helmets’ future.