Kustom Upholstery by Moon Rider

By Jeff Alexander

When we think of kustom builds, our attention is immediately drawn to sleek lines, nuanced paint designs, and, of course, strong motors built for a singular purpose. Kelsey Chelesnik of MOON RIDER seeks to redirect our attention to the details of kustom upholstery, her singular purpose to highlight how a vehicle’s interior or a kustom bike seat can tie an entire build together.

“A lot of people overlook interiors and the work that goes into them. I try to give them the spotlight because I really feel they can make or break a build. I’m a perfectionist and I’ll spend hours to get it right,” stated Chelesnik.

The passion for being a seamstress runs deep within her family as Chelesnik proudly shared her great-grandmother sewed costumes for the famed Starlight Theater, one of Kansas City’s well- respected institutions. Additionally, her great-grandmother owned and operated a seamstress shop down the street from where Chelesnik currently lives.

“I’m very proud of our family tradition. My grandma also sews and she taught me so much, yet she claims she’s in awe of my work. It feels so perfect to carry on this legacy and being in this trade feels so right,” shared Chelesnik.

Under the Moon Rider banner, Kelsey has worked tirelessly to build local support and grow her digital presence. She elevated her design work by completing a kustom seat for 2022 Biltwell People’s Champ builder, Clay Krick. His Loose Goose long chopper certainly turned heads and he earned the cover of GNARLY issue #17.

“That was pretty wild! He popped up on my social media feed about the People’s Champ build challenge. I casually commented I could build a seat for him. I was thinking, ‘Who am I to tell him I will build a seat for him?’ but he reached out and was into it. He was great to work with! Gave me a lot of creative freedom,” recalled Chelesnik.

Prior to starting Moon Rider, Chelesnik was craving creative freedom. After earning a business degree at the University of Kansas, she progressed within the industry and worked her way to a project manager role. Building on her family knowledge of sewing and seamstress design, Chelesnik ultimately felt there were limitations on what she wanted to learn next.

“I had the itch to move on and take on new skill challenges. I grew up around motorcycles and kustom kulture and I felt I could really bring something to the table. I started Moon Rider in 2018 and it was scary because you have all these unknowns when you begin. If I don’t work to succeed, nothing works and it’s all over. It’s definitely a challenge and every project is unique and has its own nuances,” shared Chelesnik.

“I had the itch to move on and take on new skill challenges. I grew up around motorcycles and kustom kulture and I felt I could really bring something to the table.”
Moon Rider continues building on Kelsey’s bold statement that interiors really can make or break a build. She states she feels kustom motorcycle and chopper seats highlight her attention to detail while vehicle interiors spotlight her awesome stitch work.

“I feel proud to say I have mastered a lot of the details that go into motorcycle seats. With interior bench seats, there’s a lot that goes into every project because you really don’t know what you’re getting into until you tear everything out. It’s certainly challenging because there’s a lot more to work on than a bike seat and getting the leather or vinyl to lay just right is never easy,” she said.

Kelsey continues working to elevate the craft of kustom upholstery, with one of her many goals being to one day see car shows highlight interior work and the craftsmanship behind it.

“As a young woman in this field, I feel empowered and as many people seem to age out, I wanna keep this craftsmanship alive! I like to strive to be unique, down to every stitch. I know where the needle will hit each time and I like working to push myself on every new project.”

Follow Kelsey online:
IG: @m00nrider

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