A Starbucks coffee mug featuring a bicycle has a connection to a 20-mile trail system in Indiana, and to a family devastated by the loss of a friend in a cycling accident.
“I was in fourth grade. I remember coming downstairs and seeing my dad crying – something I hadn’t seen before. He told me a close family friend, Ron, had died in a bicycling accident,” said Suzie Reecer, now a visual merchandising designer with Starbucks Global Creative Studio.
She also recalled what her mom did after the accident. Recognizing the need for safe pedestrian and cycling options throughout Fort Wayne and the surrounding communities, Lynn Reecer cofounded Aboite New Trails in 2001. The nonprofit, run by a 17-person volunteer board, has since built more than 80 miles of trails and has become a part of the Fort Wayne Trails system.
So when Reecer had an opportunity to submit a design for Starbucks 2015 Dot Collection, there was no doubt what she would create. Using a Japanese-style ink and brush technique, she sketched two circles with a triangle in between. A line extending from the center of the front circle ended with a curved shape that’s unmistakably handle bars for the bicycle she’d just created on a white background.
She kept sketching. Next a more detailed bicycle. Then a design that incorporated dozens of tiny bicycles on one mug. Yet another captured a bicycle from a different angle.
“All the designers in the studio posted concepts for the collection and they kept getting narrowed down and narrowed down,” said Reecer. “Every time my original design made it through another round I was surprised.”
Through several stages of feedback, Reecer’s sketch evolved to include opaque green acrylic paint filling in the circle, or dot, of the bike’s front tire. When the design was selected for the collection, the studio embossed the green circle giving the front tire a raised texture on the mug.
Reecer, elated with the results, hadn’t told her parents what she had been working on – just in case her design didn’t make the cut. Now it was time to tell mom and dad.
“When I visited the Starbucks corporate offices in 2014 with Suzie’s dad and saw the unveiling of all the 2014 Dot Series mug designs, I said, ‘Suzie maybe you can take a stab at designing a mug next year,’ never knowing that she actually would be partially inspired by one of my greatest endeavors and experiences. It’s hard to describe what this means to us,” said Lynn Reecer. “In our family, satisfying hard work that improves others’ lives is one of our greatest values.”
The bicycle mug is part of a collection of nearly 70 gift-worthy pieces of drinkware available during the holidays in participating Starbucks® stores and online through Starbucks.com. More than a dozen artists contributed to the Starbucks® Dot Collection, which includes a variety of themes and color schemes.
“It’s surreal. I’m getting pictures and Snapchats from friends all around the country holding the mug,” Reecer said.
Her mother, a real estate agent in Fort Wayne, has purchased several of the Starbucks mugs her daughter designed. She’s planning to tuck maps of the city’s trail system in the mug and give them to clients and friends as holiday gifts.
Suzie Reecer hopes those who receive her mug, and the partners who sell it in their stores, will think about volunteering for a nonprofit of their choice. Over the years, Reecer has been involved with several organizations, including two that also inspired her bicycle mug design. When she was a student at Indiana University, she joined the Student Foundation to raise money for scholarships funded by the “Little 500” – the largest collegiate bicycle race in the country. Later, as an intern with Victoria’s Secret, she was involved with Pelotonia – a bike ride that funds cancer research at the Ohio State University.
“My whole life I’ve donated my time to various nonprofits,” she said. “When community members pitch in and help organizations in their area, that’s what keeps neighborhoods alive.”
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