You probably know by now that I’m a big fan of any business that encourages the eco-friendly and health-giving benefits of cycling (see my previous HOT Chat with Matt Hurst from The Humble Vintage). So I was excited to hear about the upcoming launch of Jellybean Bikes, a custom-made bike design service where you can choose the rainbow colours of your ride, from the handlebar, frames, spokes and wheels.
Jellybean Bikes are designed in Melbourne by Kath Banger and Ben Stibbard and here’s my HOT Chat with them. Thanks Kath and Ben!
Kath and Ben, tell me a bit more about your backgrounds?
K: I work in fashion, designing clothing and I ‘ve designed for various brands around Melbourne. I have quite a passion for good design and riding my bike. Like fashion and accessories I thought to myself why couldn’t we bring the two together and create designer bicycles.
B: When you work in the design industry you develop an eye for these sorts of things. I have a background in architecture rather than products but as Kath touched on, as a designer you have a certain appreciation for good design; whatever it may be.
What inspired you to move into the world of designing bicycles and what’s the story behind your business Jellybean Bikes?
K: My love of design, colour and riding my bike.
B: Likewise… we wanted a cool commuter without the branding.
K: Ben and I had been researching bikes and we discovered a similar business in the US that customise bikes. That was it; I was sold. As they did not ship to Australia the journey began.
I travel a lot to Hong Kong so we contacted a bicycle supplier with similar bikes, sent them specifications for the bike, I picked it up boxed and bought it back home.
After arriving home Ben and I opened the box and we were so excited by what we saw we thought that they would be well accepted in Australia, particularly as there is such a huge single speed bike culture in Melbourne and in many cities across the world.
What’s unique about Jellybean Bikes?
K: You can ‘Colour your ride’. It’s a personal experience to customize your bike. Jellybean Bikes allows you to express your individual personality. And at $599 you could have a bike for every day of the week!
B: Your bike can say a lot about you. These bikes give you the opportunity to have a say about the way you want it to look. Its up to you.
Why do you like cycling, and particularly in Melbourne?
B: I commute daily on my bike and its such a great way to start your day. Its quite satisfying to continue on down the bike lanes past the banked up traffic in peak hour, but just getting out with a bunch of friends for a ride is where its at for me.
K: Melbourne is a great city to cycle in. There are great rides that take you across the city and out to Templestowe. My favourite ride is across the Yarra Boulevard and out to Heide to see a great exhibition. On warm balmy nights it’s down to St Kilda a quick stop at Banff (145 Fitzroy St, St Kilda +61 3 9525 3899) and then down to Brighton Beach.
Have you faced any challenges getting Jellybean Bikes off the ground?
K: Yes as in any new venture, there are always challenges. There’s lots of research involved, both about our customer base and developing relationships with factories in China. Possibly the biggest challenge was perfecting the quality of the bikes – researching the right components to ensure we offer good quality, great design for a reasonable price.
B: The quality of individual components is really important. It’s taken us quite some time to get every little bit right. We just kept going until we were happy with the end product. Those who have had the chance to check out the prototypes will agree that the extra time an effort we put in to sourcing the components was worth every second.
What advice would you give to someone starting their own business?
K: Have a passion for what your product. It’s half the battle and makes it a much more fun!
B: Don’t compromise on what you set out to achieve. You have to hold on to those initial ideas.
Finally, what are your HOT tips for Melbourne where you like take your bike?
K: Usually for a late afternoon you will find me at Riverland (Vaults 1- 9 Federation Wharf (Under Princes Bridge), Melbourne +61 3 9662 1771) if I’m on my way through the city. They have a fine selection of ales, an open BBQ and are very bike friendly. Other great waterholes include the Cherry Tree (53 Balmain St, Cremorne +61 3 9428 5743) and Orange (126 Chapel St, Windsor +61 3 9529 1644). Bike friendly restaurants I love to frequent or have breakfast at are Tusk (133 Chapel St, Windsor +61 3 9529 1198) and Mart130 (107a Canterbury Road, Middle Park +61 3 9690 8831) . Lazy Sundays can be a relaxed ride to Lentil as Anything at the Abbotsford Convent (1 St Heliers Street, Abbotsford +61 3 9419 6444).
B: If you’re talking bike friendly you simply cannot go past Seven Seeds (106 Berkeley St, Carlton +61 3 9347 8664) there should be more places like that. You take your bike in with you and its like a bicycle gallery with great coffee. As far as an afternoon beverage goes it has to be the new outdoor area of the Cherry Tree. Its an old favourite with plenty of friendly like folk tucked away in the quiet Cremorne pocket of Richmond.