Though an avid cyclist, Gloria Hwang was never a fan of helmets, referring to them as “sci-fi” nuisances. But after losing a friend through a cycling accident, her perspective changed. Hwang, a psychology alumna, says her mission in founding and launching Thousand, a new brand of cycling helmets, was to save lives, noting that there are 50,000 reported cycling injuries each year, 1,000 of which are fatal — hence, the name Thousand.
The company, overseen by a board of advisers made up entirely of women, aims to eliminate the stigma around wearing helmets by introducing a modern style twist to protective wear. Thousand safety-certified helmets offer lightweight and cooling protection, with finishes to match any style and a patent-pending PopLock system — designed by Hwang’s father, a former NASA engineer — so riders can securely leave both their bike and helmet behind.
“Our goal is to ‘rebrand’ the bike helmet from commodity to lifestyle accessory.”Gloria Hwang
A Kickstarter campaign last year raised $230,000 for the company, allowing Thousand helmets to be sold at specialty retailers worldwide, as well as on the Thousand website.
“Because of our mission, I think we’ve approached the industry differently. Our goal is to ‘rebrand’ the bike helmet from commodity to lifestyle accessory,” Hwang told Forbes. “Moreover, we really don’t see ourselves in competition with other helmet companies. Our approach has always been to grow our industry, so we’ve always viewed our competition as ‘not wearing a helmet,’ not other companies.”