How To Break Into the Cycling Industry – Vaya Bag’s Tianna Meilinger
For some, the path to the bike industry is through other companies, and the breadth of knowledge bases and skill sets means just about anyone can find their niche at a cycling related company. For others, the direct path is the way to go, and Vaya Bags founder Tianna jumped right in and started making bags for herself and her cycling friends.
BIKERUMOR: Who are you and what are you doing here?
TIANNA: My name is Tianna Meilinger and I am owner and creator of Vaya Bags. We hand-make bike messenger bags and other accessories.
BIKERUMOR: What was your first job or experience in the cycling industry? How did you “break” in?
TIANNA: This is my first job in the cycling industry. I started my own business about 7 years ago making messenger bags for myself and friends out of the necessity for a durable bag while I was in college.
BIKERUMOR: What’s your educational background?
TIANNA: I have a Bachelors degree in Environmental Science from Boston University, hence I use a lot of recycled materials such as recycled bike tubes and scraps of sailboat awning.
BIKERUMOR: After that first experience/job, what was the path to your current position?
TIANNA: I started out just making one or two bags for my friends. Now I have a store-front in Queens and Vaya Bags travels the country to different craft fairs and art shows. I started out as a small DIY company and strive to keep it hands-on.
BIKERUMOR: What’s a normal day for you?
TIANNA: A normal day includes a lovely, short bike commute to my shop and retail store in Ridgewood Queens. There, I cut & sew bags with my two good friends, Grace and Angie. We listen to music, books on tape, and often jumprope during our lunch break.
BIKERUMOR: What are the highlights of your job?
TIANNA: The highlight of my job is meeting the customers who are using my bags. Often times people come into the shop to design a custom bag and its really fun working one-on-one with people to make them their dream bag.
BIKERUMOR: What could you do without?
TIANNA: All of the office work and record keeping.
BIKERUMOR: What advice would you give to someone looking to follow your path today?
TIANNA: If you have an idea and want to get into bag-making, try making one and see how people like it. Change and alter your design from that. You need to do something to learn how to do it.