On the streets of DTLA with Tokyobike director Juliana Rudell Di Simone

On the streets of DTLA with Tokyobike director Juliana Rudell Di Simone

Juliana Rudell Di Simone is a native of Brazil who lives and works in Los Angeles. She is the director of Tokyobike in the Americas, an independent brand from Yanaka, Japan, designed around the concept of 'Tokyo Slow'. Juliana first introduced the brand in New York with her husband Dean and Tokyobike founder Ichiro Kanai. After 6 years in NYC, she is now based in LA and helping make bicycle culture part of the city's transport future. We spoke to Juliana about how LA inspires her, inside tips on downtown culture and getting around on two wheels.

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ON WHERE YOU’RE FROM

I was born in Curitiba, Brazil.

ON WHERE YOU’VE LIVED AROUND THE GLOBE  

I have moved around quite a bit. My first living experience abroad was Shrewsbury, UK, where I went to boarding school. I then lived in London for most of my adult life but also Poitiers, France, for my Masters Degree, Milan and Paris for modelling, and New York for about 6 years before moving to Los Angeles.

ON MOVING TO THE USA 

Work mostly, but also this hunger I had to one day live in New York City.

ON LOS ANGELES IN ONE WORD 

Diversity.

ON YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH LA 

Simply, love. I love everything about Los Angeles: the weather, the outdoor living, the produce, the improved quality of life, the creative energy… I can keep going for days. Now, if I had to pick my very favorite thing about LA, that would be the food. The flavors that have been coming out of LA’s restaurants are simply mind-blowing and I honestly don’t think there’s another place in the US right now—may I say the world?—experimenting in the same way chefs in LA have been.

 

tokyobike (above) and Juliana in New York where the first tokyobike US store was launched. Images courtesy Juliana Rudell Di Simone.

ON HOW NEW CULTURES INSPIRE YOU 

From the languages I speak to the colors in my wardrobe, each place I have ever lived has helped shape who I am, the flavors I enjoy, the architecture, design and fashion I love.

ON THE INSPIRATION FOR INTRODUCING TOKYOBIKE IN AMERICA

I knew of tokyobike when I lived in London—I lived right around the corner from our Shoreditch store for years and admired the everchanging window display every day on my way to work. Bicycles were not a part of my life then, I was terrified of riding a bicycle anywhere that wasn’t a park or an incredibly quiet street—I laugh at myself now when I think of how free I feel on a bicycle and how there are no routes I wouldn’t take. But it wasn’t until I moved to New York and met my husband, Dean Di Simone, that I actually got involved with the brand. Unfortunately, I can’t take credit for bringing tokyobike to the Americas as that was a vision my husband and our business partner, tokyobike founder Ichiro Kanai, had. At the time however, I was transitioning careers and what was supposed to be ‘help at the pop up’ (we first launched tokyobike in the US with a pop up, that then became a permanent store, in New York’ Soho) turned into a full-time love affair. I now run tokyobike in the Americas, and while the vision of bringing it here wasn’t mine, I have been leading the path of what the brand has become here, spearheading our partnerships, marketing, branding and all other aspects of what you see.

I love everything about Los Angeles: the weather, the outdoor living, the produce, the improved quality of life, the creative energy… I can keep going for days. Now, if I had to pick my very favorite thing about LA, that would be the food.

ON CYCLING CULTURE IN NEW YORK AND LOS ANGELES

They are completely different. The New York Times released an article a few years back saying New York was, at the time, the US city with the largest number of bicycle commuters, and when you are crossing the Manhattan Bridge or standing on Prince Street at 8am, you really understand what that means. New Yorkers are becoming more and more free of traditional transportation and it was incredibly refreshing watching the changes as they happened. As for LA, I can probably count bicycle commuters in one hand on my way to work, and back. Los Angeles is simply too spread out, and most commutes are too long for a bicycle. That said, LA has been investing tremendously in infra-structure to take us out of cars and into other means of transportation. This includes a variety of channels that will take you from point A to point B, for example, many people I know ride a bike to the train station, lock their bicycle in the train carriage (yes, LA trains have those!) and then ride from the closest station to their final destination. Seems like a lot of work but if you’re commuting from East to West, or any other direction that can keep you in traffic for longer than an hour, this is definitely the quickest option. Now what really is amazing about LA cyclists is this acknowledgment that happens between those of us that are out there, and it is truly heartwarming. Every time I am riding my bike and go by another cyclist, there is always a smile, a wave or a hello. I have ridden bikes all over the world and have never experienced this anywhere else. It’s almost a way of saying we are in this together! On the weekend though, the number of road and mountain bikes, in addition to beach cruisers, on the streets is tremendous and something that gets me, an owner of a bicycle company, inspired and hopeful that one day we’ll all be riding our bikes and leaving our cars for those amazing and long road trips.

ON THE TOKYOBIKE DESIGN AND ‘TOKYO SLOW’ 

The minimalistic aesthetic and color range are very strong features for tokyobike. That said, the concept and lifestyle around the brand is something people are responding to incredibly well. Our concept of taking it slow and appreciating all things around you is getting great response from customers. With customers looking for more unique brands, and especially not gigantic corporations, our customers understand and appreciate what comes with an independently owned brand—attention to detail, high quality and small productions, but above all, thoughtful customer interaction.

 

tokyobike store on ROW DTLA (above + bottom left), and Juliana on the streets of downtown LA. Images courtesy Juliana Rudell Di Simone.

ON RECENT PROJECTS

We just launched a brand new website and URL,  we are now tokyobike.us. This was a huge project and probably the most challenging one for me. Coming directly to our stores has always been something that cannot be recreated in any other way, hence why we have been focusing on flagship locations around the world, and likely the first bicycle brand to think that way. But we can’t be everywhere, it would not only go against our ideals of being small and exclusive, but the world is also pretty big! So, translating that thought of ‘this is the most beautiful bike shop I’ve ever been to’ to ‘this is the best and easiest bicycle purchase experience I’ve ever had’, from the comfort of your couch, was one of my main goals for the brand in 2018. I am really proud of what our team was able to pull off. We’re also launching two very special collaborations before the end of the year, one of them being with Fulcrum Coffee from Seattle, a brand that has great alignment with tokyobike and what we believe in.

I, like everyone around me, worry about our future generations and hope that by then, the air we breath is cleaner and we’re more conscious human beings about not only what we eat or spend our money on, but also the way we move around.

ON LA BICYCLE CULTURE IN THE YEAR 2030 

I hope bicycles are more integrated in our everyday life and lifestyle. Riding a bicycle is one of the more environmentally friendly actions we can all partake in. I, like everyone around me, worry about our future generations and hope that by then, the air we breath is cleaner and we’re more conscious human beings about not only what we eat or spend our money on, but also the way we move around.

ON A GOOD LA BIKE RIDE 

I love riding a bike Downtown. It’s the easiest way to move around, grab lunch, coffee, a few galleries and museum stops.

ON GETTING TO KNOW THE CITY

Grab the 101 LA Times list by Jonathan Gold and explore neighborhoods through food. Find his recommendations, explore these area and finish with probably the best meal of your life. It breaks my heart that there won’t be a new list next year but 2018’s list was so delicious that I think it will be forever appreciated.

 

Juliana riding in LA (above) and tokyobike x Ace Hotel collaboration to create bicycle tours of DTLA. Images courtesy Juliana Rudell Di Simone.

ON A PLACE TO BE INSPIRED

Again, Downtown. The change that is happening is unbelievable. It also has a very strong creative energy at the moment, which keeps me going and excited about the future.

ON WHETHER YOU NEED A FIX OF ANYTHING FROM BRAZIL IN LA

Yes! I am still searching for the best Pão de Queijo in LA, recommendations accepted!, but I can get Picanha from my local butcher and that is the best thing a Brazilian can ask for.

ON GOOD FOOD

Bestia is most likely my favorite restaurant in LA.

ON GOOD COFFEE

PCP is probably the best, and prettiest, coffee shop in DTLA.

ON A GALLERY TO CHECK OUT

So many Downtown but definitely worth checkin Houser & Wirth (and getting a bite at Manoela!), The Broad and Museum of Ice Cream.

ON GOOD PEOPLE WATCHING

ROW DTLA – during the week I love watching all the creatives that work here, and on the weekend the crowds that come with Smorgasburg, and soon, Tartine!

ON WINDOW SEAT OR AISLE 

Always aisle.

 

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Nuggets in this interview

inspiration

Museum of Ice Cream, DTLA

"Galleries..So many Downtown..the Museum of Ice Cream"

–Juliana Rudell Di Simone

events

Hauser&Wirth, DTLA

"So many Downtown but definitely worth checkin Houser & Wirth".

–Juliana Rudell Di Simone

food and drink

Jonathan Gold 101, LA

"Grab the 101 LA Times list by Jonathan Gold and explore neighborhoods through food".

–Juliana Rudell Di Simone

food and drink

Bestia, DTLA

"Bestia is most likely my favorite restaurant in LA".

–Juliana Rudell Di Simone

food and drink

PCP, DTLA

"PCP is probably the best, and prettiest, coffee shop in DTLA".

–Juliana Rudell Di Simone

travel

Tokyobike, DTLA

"I love riding a bike Downtown. It’s the easiest way to move around, grab lunch, coffee, a few galleries and museum stops".

–Juliana Rudell Di Simone

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