Our friend Melissa Tabas has been designing her own brand of fully flared kits, socks, and bottles for a while now, and we were lucky enough to swing by for a stop at her place our last time in Philadelphia. If you haven’t seen any of her stuff through social media, you better go pick up a couple water bottles at least.
We asked her a few questions as Laser Cats seems to be taking off, and we couldn’t be more stoked that someone this genuine is making some magic happen in the community!!
How did LC come to be?
Laser Cats kinda came together by chance. I was on a cycling team who asked me to help them design a new more out there kit. I actually never had any real design experience other than making clothes for myself, but I have always had a really strong personal style. So with out getting too long winded while helping with this design I got inspired to make something silly. While talking with a friend I suggested that I wanted to make a kit with cats on it (I’m a notorious cat lady) and he threw the idea of cats with frigging laser beams. I had a really positive response and from there the rest is kinda history.
Because I love cats…… and the basis for most laser cats items is things that I would want to wear. But also I feel like a little bit cats are having their moment in fashion. They are both endearing and cute with out necessarily being feminine or masculine, everybody likes cats. Also the Laser Cats connection with that SNL skit give almost everybody a chuckle. I really love the idea of someone looking at one of my items and having a big smile going across their face.
(TANGENT)Are you familiar with Chris Jenkins’ work? Specifically this shirt:
YES! Im a fan I actually recently purchased that shirt. Its pretty likely that if it has cats on it (or is cat related) I will purchase it
How long have you been working on the LC project?
In January it will be about 2 years since I came up with the first laser cats kit design. But about 1 year since I really went full in with socks, bottles etc. Its been a pretty fun little journey I have really learned a lot and become a lot more confident in my design aesthetic and abilities. I went from really needing and wanting help from other designer friends to being completely confident and self sufficient in my work.
What were you doing before LC?
Until this past July I was working in customer service at Fuji Bikes. But through all of the work with Laser Cats I found that what I really love is designing and and making and decided to take the plunge into the design world.
I heard that LC is now your main gig, do you see if being sustainable?
I would love it to be my full time I make a living gig, but for now its kinda just my main gig by chance. After leaving my job I decided that I really want to become the best designer I could be. So I am in school part-time doing art and design classes. My goal for future is to diversify and grow the business , maybe GASP in the future moving away from just cat related things. While I don’t foresee myself becoming the next the Athletic I really admire what they do and have done in their business. In some ways I feel my aesthetic is a bit more polarizing but I’d would love to be as successful and know around the cycling community and beyond.
What’s your personal favorite LC piece so far?
Thats tough, I have a real soft spot for everything I’ve done. But if I’m playing favorites it would have to be the kits and socks I’ve just come out with. I feel that they are probably the most indicative of my personal aesthetic and really make me proud of how my little business had evolved. I know have relationships with the vendors I use to produce my goods and feel like you don’t have to be a kitschy cat nerd to wear and enjoy the socks and kits.
How did your love of color come about?
I’ve always been a color loving little weirdo. Ever since I wast little I’ve been making my own clothing and have had a really unique (and strong) personal style. I became really fashion obsessed in high school, and going to school with a whole bunch of people who wanted to look the same, made me want to look as different as possible. Which is really where I started become somewhat obsessed with bright and florescent colors. I’ve have always thought that you can tell a lot about a person by what they are wearing, its how you show yourself to the world. I like to get dressed everyday on or off the bike with that in mind.
Your design feels like a mix of Patrick Nagel/Duran Duran album cover
art meets 90’s Nickelodeon era graphic design, how would you describe
your visual direction?
I have a really strong like for clean lines and shapes with strong uses of color. This falls squarely inline with a lot of late 80s, early 90s design. I also am a really whimsical silly person and I want people to smile when they look at my work I have been really inspired by Camille Walala recently. I was in London over the summer and saw the most amazing mural by her. You can see some of that inspiration in my designs. Another thing I really love is dazzle camo. It was used on ships in world war I and II. IT consists of patterns and geometric shapes in contrasting colors, that interrupt and intersect each other. It doesn’t hide the object but serves to confuse and overwhelm the eye. I love the idea of optical art and techniques. Creating dimension in a 2d space. Also I’m in a perpetual Miami Vice color phase, blazers, tees, and pastels please. My mind is a weird place, so I probably have a million other influences from things i have seen that have just melded together into my mind.
How is it living in Philly, close to so much amazing riding?
I feel lucky almost everyday. We can ride almost any discipline just from right outside your door without having to ride more than a few miles to get out of the city. Coming from the east coast I feel like we always lust after the riding out west, but there is nothing better than a good ride around here on a beautiful fall day.
Any suggestions for ladies just getting into cycling? Tips? Advice? Words of encouragement?
The one thing I always tell women is to find people to ride with, and to not be afraid. Seeing flocks of spandex clad cyclist can be super intimidating. But the truth is that usually folks love introducing others to cycling. Its a great sport and the excitement for it is contagious. Main tip is JUST DO IT, find a group and ride with others. I find it much more motivating to ride with others, you will both improve faster and get more exited about bikes by riding with others. Talk to local shops, join facebook groups, at least in Philadelphia there are beginner rides fairly often and I feel that they are a great way to dip your toes into the world of cycling crazydom.
Was it intimidating coming into the sport as a female? What was that experience like?
My experience coming into cycling was a bit different than others, because I have always been pretty confident in my athletic ability. I came from a competitive running background and when I started riding the folks I was riding with were both a little patient but also super encouraging. The only intimidating experience I ever had was going into a bike shop looking for a new bike right after I got into cycling. The salesperson kinda made me feel like an idiot and I felt like I wasn’t good enough to buy something from that shop. Well, I never went back to that shop and now have great relationships with local Philly shops. But I will never forget that and make sure that I do my best to make sure that no one every has an experience like that.
You seem to practically ride everything and enjoy doing so, what’s your favorite discipline?
One of my goals when I got into cycling was to do everything. It kinda frustrates me when people identify themselves a just a roadie, with the whole “I would NEVER ride a mountain bike” thing. Every type of cycling is fun and I feel that they work together to make me a better cyclist a whole. With that being said I do play favorites.
I would say my favorite discipline is racing at the track. I am SUPER lucky to live about an hour away from the Valley Preferred Cycling Center (T-town velodrome as its usually called), and I get to race there often in the summer. On the track you really need to be in the moment, taking note of where you are in the race and what is coming up next. And you get to GO FAST and TURN LEFT. Also there are always a few races in an evening of racing so if you have one bad race you always have another chance to redeem yourself. If you get a chance to head to t-town for Friday night racing, I highly recommend it. Its a lot of fun and you get to see some of the best track racers in the country and the world. You can also come and yell at me while I try to keep up!
Any plans for the future you want to share?
I kinda don’t know exactly what I am doing next. A notion which is both terrifying and exciting. Hopefully growing Laser Cats more and designing rad things for other people (give me a shout if you need help looking like a rainbow superstar). I’d love one day to have a store front and cafe of sorts. I love to bake and would like to have a little destination with neat clothing, snacks and knickknacks. But thats more in the distant future.
When are you doing an adventure cam project for No Life??
Sooon….. when I actually remember to bring a camera with me or so something cool. But you might just get a roll of film that are just pictures of my cat