10 Q’s With Bradford Riedell of Wheelmen & Co.
At BossStart we appreciate PASSION. That’s exactly the driving force for the company in this weeks “10 Q’s With…”; our question and answer series that’s aimed at offering insight to our readers who are interested in the ‘Adventure’ of becoming: The Boss. Bradford Riedell has gifted us and our readers with an inside look into that passion and workings of his business Wheelmen & Co. – a company that creates accessories and apparel centered on travel and cycling.
Q. Tell our readers about your business, your passion, and what it is that you do? What’s your story? And what sets you apart from other businesses in your particular market?
“The concept and idea behind Wheelmen & Co. began in Ireland in the late 1800′s. Wheelmen & Co. designs and creates classic and timeless American made Accessories and Apparel that are meant for commuting with. The materials we use and the way our products are manufactured are similar to the ways products were made over a century ago. Simply put – we are Classic Tailoring : Modern Function.”
“My Great Grandfather, Thomas Smith was one of the first bicycle mechanics in Ireland in the late 1800′s. As a young child, and even until today, my natural love for biking and commuting never slowed. I always loved design and after schooling, I was hired at a company with deep roots and a strong cultural following in New York City. This company still is the base, which many companies look to for inspiration. There I learned about apparel, production, design and marketing. I later went on to work with many companies in New York City and in Los Angeles. I always wanted to create my own company that accommodated commuting and fashion. For me starting Wheelmen & Co. was like meeting the right person in your life. You are not necessarily looking but when it happens you know it’s the right fit. I needed to be in the right place and time to begin building Wheelmen. This meant knowing the market and a means of producing what I was about to start to build.”
“Wheelmen & Co. designs and produces all of its products in the USA. At one point in my life, while working for other companies, I would travel to Asia every three months to meet with production, design and so on. Later, when building Wheelmen & Co., I realized I wanted a quick turn around and saw the potential to help bring back manufacturing to the USA. The USA is currently a service-based country. In a lot of ways, it’s important to me that we support our own economy and that we realize the potential of producing some of the best quality products in America again. At Wheelmen we don’t look to the outside for inspiration as many fashion and apparel companies do, we don’t ride on trends. We build products that you or I could wear today and our grandchildren can wear in the tomorrow. I am proud to call Wheelmen & Co. a company I helped to create. But I would also thank all the amazing people in my life that supported the foundation of what Wheelmen & Co. has become. Classic Tailoring: Modern Function.”
“I knew I always wanted to create and design exactly what my vision was. I also realized throughout my experience working with other companies that my vision would change or become distorted in the final stages. This would happen due to marketing, production, cost or just a call from the senior management of the company. “
“Ultimately, I knew in order to be able to release a product exactly the way I intended it to function or look, I needed to own the company that made it. “
“I had started and thought about many companies before I created this one. The only difference was with this company I was fully committed. By that I mean, investment, time, love and sacrifice. Wheelmen is my life, and like a person or love in my life.”
Q. How much planning was involved prior to the start-up of your business? Can you offer some insight into that process?
“To be honest any startup company takes planning. But more then that, when starting a company you need to have some idea on how the business works that you want to start. I have seen companies with huge start up budgets fail. How does this happen? They did not have the inside information on how the industry they got involved with works. They misappropriated the money involved with the business. And most importantly by working in the industry for others before you start your company, you learn what works and what fails. You take that information and apply it to your company when your start it. We will always make mistakes, but you limit your mistakes by seeing how others failed in the same business.”
“If I can give any insight on starting any company: work for a company that is somewhat similar to a company you would love to create. Learn everything that company does to run its business. Absorb all of it, the positives and the negatives. When you start your company, remember what you experienced. Apply what you learned in your own company.”
“Believe 110% in yourself and your company.”
Q. In terms of running your business, what does a typical day look like for you; or is every day different?
“I do some of the same things everyday, like get up and check email first thing. Make a coffee and respond to emails. But on a day-to-day basis, things are always changing. Designing new product, going to photo shoots, in meetings, working on a new collaboration project. Half my day
is spent calling everyone I work with whether in the USA or sales people overseas. In some ways everyday brings new things to do.”
“Our team here is small. But that is for a particular reason. We have very amazing people that work with us and we are able to keep our overhead low by having people that are experienced in more then one field. Currently we have a staff of 5. But we have many distributors that work with us all over the world as well.”
Q. What has been the most challenging part of your entrepreneurial adventure?
“Not having all the answers, making some decisions based on your gut.”
Q. Besides the obvious of being your own boss, what is the most rewarding part about being an independent business owner? What motivates you? What keeps you going each day?
“When you start something that is yours, your vision, your money – it becomes more then a job. It becomes a love, a true passion. Of course there are ups and downs. But the true driving force behind it is you and your team. Watching an idea become a reality is like bringing a child into the world. You only want the best for it; motivation to do your best becomes inherent.”
Q. How do you promote your business (i.e. Advertise, Endorsements, Contests, Social networking)? Or are there any marketing strategies that have helped your business? What about hurt your business?
“In some ways we are conservative on how we use marketing. We have done print ads in certain publications. We use blogs that we feel appropriate for our product and over all look here. We work closely with collaborations to help market not only from our side but also the company we are working with. Some examples are “I Love Dust” from London and Sixpoint Craft Ales in NYC. As for strategies, be careful how you market your brand. Sometimes getting too big too fast will hurt a brand. Steady and consistent growth from marketing insures a brand does not become over exposed and played out.”
“We are currently working on several new products with our company that will be collaborating with other great companies. We are finishing our Fall collection. We just built a new creative space that also serves as our West Coast showroom.”
“Our long-term goal is to continue to create growth with product made in the USA that is classic and timeless. We have no intention of selling the company anytime soon. Short-term goal is to continue what we do here at Wheelmen everyday.”
Q. What advice do you have to those reading www.bossstart.com that you feel is valuable?
“Learn about the industry you want to start a business in. Work for others and learn from their mistakes and their accomplishments. Most importantly, believe in yourself and what you are creating. Be true to yourself and the team you work with. Don’t ever let your ego get involved with any business decision.”
“Employ people that believe in the brand and where it is going. When the business starts to grow, look back and remember when it was small. Never lose track of what it was and what you started building.”
For more information on Wheelmen & Co., please visit:
Los Angeles Headquarters / Showroom
440 Seaton St. (Suite 205)
Los Angeles, CA 90013
About the Author: Daniel Ballard
Daniel is a Writer and Entrepreneur. He is Co-Founder/Main Author/Editor of BossStart and Co-Editor/Featured Author for BossStart's sister site, PauseStart, launching early 2012
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