Cycling Visionaries Awards – Project Details

The Deadly Nightshades

The Deadly Nightshades

One beautiful summer morning on Mount Olympus while Venus was out riding her bike, she scraped her calf on her chain ring. Out of the blood that fell to the earth emerged The Deadly Nightshades.

In this incarnation, the seven women of the Deadly Nightshades started out as a fashion design collective, then spun their upstart in-your-face brand of fashion into a roving midnight bike gang. Matching seafoam jackets, secret initiation rituals and a gang sign was the natural progression. As mavericks this bike gang encourage ethical design, sustainable living, and general mischief. They shine their light through the curation of projects that combine art, design, fashion and cycling. They are a unified front of generative women, wrapped in a shinny seafoam layer on bikes. Empowering women through art to unite, get on their bikes, and create positive change is the Deadly Nightshades’ raison d'être.

Step #1: Matching Jackets.
Step #3: Take over the world.

The Deadly Nightshades are an all-female design collective based out of Toronto, Canada. Cat Essiambre, Irene Stickney, Kirsten White, Laura Mensinga, Meg Orlinski, Niamh McManus, and Patricia Youn met while at the Ryerson School of Fashion. Their friendship solidified by the gang, with iconic matching seafoam jackets launching them as a highly visible collective.

The Deadly Nightshades are about…
Cycle: and move your own body. Be a kinetic force.
Connect: to your local and global communities. Make friends, share and celebrate culture.
Care: about how you affect your surroundings. Make positive effects with your decisions.
Cooperate: to create. Collectives make the best work.
Create: with your friends. Spread positive intentions to the world with your work and play.

The Deadly Nightshades are all working professionals and entrepreneurs in various capacities in the cycling, fashion, and art industries. Their day jobs are:
- Mentor of at-risk youth at The Make Den
- Bike community coordinator for Evergreen Toronto
- Cycling bags and accessories designer for YNOT Cycle
- Owner of an independent apparel production company
- Commercial photography producer for Westside Studios
- Athletics wear designer for Lululemon
- Firefighter in training

As an arts project itself, The Deadly Nightshades act as a creative outlet for the women to shape and influence the culture around them.

The knowledge and networks gained from their wide range of professions allow the Deadly Nightshades to tackle a large variety of projects. Facilitating community through events is a key component of how the Deadly Nightshades pull their passion together. This has included clothing swaps, art, videos, eco-fashion cycling collections, social media engagement, group rides, community dinners and the collective blog. Some key events of note the Deadly Nightshades have run are the Toronto Bicycle Film Festival, Style Spins with the Drake Hotel, and Toronto Alternative Fashion Week. They have been able to promote their message through appearances in the BBC, Momentum, Treadlie, The Huffington Post, and countless other international media.

Most importantly, The Deadly Nightshades promote cycling through the arts by example. By modeling a successful collective, they show how women can work together for collective good while still maintaining individuality and personal goals. Women must lead women and create safe and fertile spaces to work together. Through hard work, they encourage and promote the power of women not just in cycling, but in all aspects of society.

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Meaghan (Meg) Orlinski
Toronto, Canada

Category: Cycling and the Arts

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