by Andrew Yee
How many times do you use your wallet every day? What if it was lighter, sleeker, unique and showed off your love for cyclocross? Mark Abramson is hoping cyclocrossers and the not-yet-converted will embrace his new venture, ThinFolio, and hold their USA Cycling (or NABRA) license and credit cards with his Tyvek-based ThinFolio wallets.
Let’s get the disclaimers out the way: I went to school with Mark Abramson, had a role in getting him involved in collegiate cycling, raced with him on the Tufts Cycling and Boston Cross teams, and above all else, he’s a friend. And, I’ll risk stating the obvious, this wallet isn’t necessarily cyclocross- or cycling-specific.
Now that we got all that out of the way, Abramson has a diverse resume that’s heavily tied to the cycling world. In addition to his full-time gig as an IT professional, Abramson has led the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference, started the underground Boston Cross group, been President of USA Cycling’s board of directors, helped Stu Thorne get CyclocrossWorld’s website off the ground, won the B “Sandbagger Nats” race at the 2001 Cyclocross National Championships in Baltimore, and now works with his wife, Dr. Anna Abramson, on the Medicine of Cycling venture and conference. Abramson still has a leadership role with USA Cycling, and is vice-president on the board and a Collegiate cycling representative.
Now Abramson can add seamster and wallet designer to that long list of accomplishments, as he has started ThinFolio, a company dedicated to making hand-made, thin, ultralight wallets customized with your photos, made in California.
After having his old wallet fall apart one day, he grabbed his mom’s old sewing machine and some USPS Tyvek envelopes, and created his own wallet. After successfully making a bunch as wedding favors for his own wedding, Abramson and his wife have started a Kickstarter fund in attempt to grow this venture, and is looking to raise $20,000 to save the world from fat, heavy boring wallets.
It’s a simple process. Send ThinFolio some photos, or if you’re feeling lucky, a link to your Instagram or Flickr account, and they’ll print the photos on durable Tyvek material, and sew the prints into a wallet that weighs just 11 grams. Web tools help you select the images and lay it out, or if you want to be surprised, Abramson will create something from a link to your photo storage.
Ever end up racing your buddies on a training ride with your wallet in your jersey pocket? Think of the weight savings when you hit the hills. At around $35, ThinFolio’s wallet might crush the dollar-per-gram benchmark that weight weenies reference. Better yet, the material itself is far more weather-proof than the typical leather wallet.
Abramson’s creation is simple and has six credit card slots, and a bill holder with a divider. It also has two hidden pockets, for anything you want to carry with you discretely, like latex tube patches, in case you don’t want the world to know you shun butyl or that you actually repair your own tubulars late at night.
After sending Abramson a few links to my photos on Flickr, and telling him to surprise me, a few days later I received two wallets: one that featured Cyclocross Magazine’s logo and some ’cross photos, and another featuring photos of my family and non-cycling interests (a brook trout).
Both were delightful, nicely designed and certainly something that would bring a smile to my face every time I pull it out of my pocket. One note: Because I left the photo selection and design to Abramson, he kindly grabbed some cyclocross-specific photos, including one of my teammate from my Flickr feed. I like my teammate just fine, but do feel a little funny having him on my wallet, but now I have the perfect holiday gift for him. But if you’d like to oversee your wallet’s design, Abramson will have web tools to help you upload and lay out the images, giving you full control over the design and the people who end up in your pants pocket.
We’ll see how they hold up, but ThinFolio offers a 30-day, no-questions-asked return policy if they don’t. The standard Kickstarter purchases won’t deliver until early 2014, but there might be ways to get custom wallets for your team or for holiday gifts earlier if you turn over your old wallet with two unmarked $20 bills and one $10 bill inside (but please hide your OBRA license from the USA Cycling VP).