As you may know, TOMMBA collaborated with North Central Michigan College's Communication Design class to help design our first ever bike jersey. The idea was presented to the class for their final design project. After several weeks, three student designers each presented their visions of a TOMMBA bike jersey. We had to choose one designer to fulfill our quest of making this project a reality.
Meet our star, NCMC student jersey designer, Natalie Gulyas! In addition to her studies at NCMC, Natalie also owns a small business: Manitou Bags, and is a part-time Pilates instructor.
We asked Natalie a few questions about herself and the design project:
TOMMBA: Please tell us a bit about yourself and your interest in graphic design.
Natalie: I’ve always been involved in creative design. Although my background is in music performance and production, during the onset of social media popularity, before it has become what it is today I owned a small marketing business called SoSocial Media Marketing.
During that time I worked on back-end development of websites, creating content for websites including copy, product and team photography and social media management. I had no formal graphic design training at that time and was always interested in becoming even more proficient in certain programs.
In 2016 I moved from Chicago to Northern Michigan to photograph weddings with a company called the Weber Photographers and have lived here ever since.
The same year I moved to Northern Michigan I formed my now small business, Manitou Design. I design and produce accessories, mostly custom leather bags. I sell them locally and online, you can also catch me at the Renegade Handmade fair in Chicago in May.
Because I have designed every aspect of marketing material for my own business, with an exception of my logo which was designed in part by a friend, I decided in the fall of 2021 to take some classes at NCMC to further my knowledge of graphic arts and design. Design programs and culture are ever changing and formally learning these modalities has expanded my abilities, but also, working with everyone at NCMC has opened up my mind creatively. It has offered me unique opportunities like working with TOMMBA!
T: What was the name of the NCMC design class?
N: The class is Communication Design, taught by the ever fantastic professor Anne Morningstar. The purpose of the class is to examine how art is another form of communication and Anne does an exceptional job pairing creative projects while encouraging ideas of substance. This was the best project that we had all semester.
T: What were your impressions of TOMMBA and/or inspirations for your design?
N: We as a class had a helpful conversation with Spencer, who outlined both what TOMMBA was looking for in a jersey and what TOMMBA represents as an organization.
Some questions that came up during our meeting were, what is your mission at TOMMBA? Who are your members and what does the future of the organization look like?
This was a learning experience for me, I designed the jerseys with these questions in mind. And I asked friends who are avid Northern Michigan mountain bikers what they would like to wear. I considered color trends and ultimately knew I wanted to design something strong and memorable while being simplistic.
My most important edit however, was when a friend told me that her seven year old daughter loves mountain biking in Harbor Springs. I wanted to incorporate an image of a woman looking over the avalanche mountain view for her young daughter because she inspired me with her love for mountain biking.
T: Did you imagine your design would be chosen?
N: Not even for a moment! I even created a really outlandish second jersey design because I didn’t imagine I would be chosen. My classmates are the most talented illustrators and I saw how vivid and beautiful their work was. I absolutely imagined TOMMBA riders wearing their designs.
T: Have you mountain biked before or would you be interested in mountain biking now?
N: Being from Chicago, I’ve been a road biker out of necessity, which I’ve carried with me to Northern Michigan. I have not yet tried mountain biking but I would love to.
This collaboration with NCMC and Natalie was an amazing, fun experience. Natalie made the process so easy, despite a very busy school/work schedule. We are so excited to be able to celebrate our 10th anniversary by offering these amazing jerseys to you.
If you would like to support Natalie, check out her website:
and find her on Instagram: @manitoubags
And be sure to order your custom, student-designed, TOMMBA bike jersey today to support more collaboration efforts like this and, of course, more great, local mountain bike trails!
Remember, these jerseys are only available to pre-order for a limited time. We're taking jersey pre-orders only until May 15, 2022. Learn more at: https://www.tommba.org/news/12708360 - then