Wizard Works – Made in Greenwich
We pride ourselves in supplying Pedal Me riders with the best equipment for the job in hand. Our head mechanic, Irakliy, got in touch with Harry and Veronica from Wizard Works in south east London with a very specific design for our unique Urban Arrow cargo bikes: durable, fitted, classy. We dropped in to see how they were coming along. Very well, it turns out.
How long has Wizard Works been going?
Harry: We have existed as a limited company since August, 2020, but we launched our first website in August, 2019. Prior to that, it was a hobby-slash-side hustle. I first started getting into sewing bags in 2015. And they were crap! Basket bags and snack bags. They were handsome, but crap…
But the hobby got better and better, and by the time we were ready to leave New Zealand in 2018, we were starting to sell things to people we didn’t know. A friend in Sydney bought 3 or 4 hundred of our stem bags over a few months. At that point we looked at each other and said: ‘Well, we could make a go of this. But should we? We don’t really have anything to lose, so let’s do it’.
We didn’t really have any money, so we moved back to London, launched a super-simple website. I was doing two or three days a week, and V was doing a day – we both had other jobs.
When the pandemic hit in 2020, we had already to committed to our first studio. We both got furloughed from our day jobs, plus we had two big features on Bikepacking.com, and all of that coalesced into making our side hustle into more than a full-time job. We needed help.
Veronica: We had nothing else to do other than work! We employed Tasha, our first employee, in August and suddenly felt very grown up…
This studio in Greenwich feels very grown up, for sure.
Veronica: The Design District has been really good to us.
Harry: We’ve had a series of not-proper spaces prior to this. We could see that there wasn’t much room for growth. It took us 10 months to find somewhere that we could afford, that was big enough, but also that wasn’t a step backwards in terms of conditions. When we became employers, we became much more aware of not subjecting staff to working in 4 degrees in winter, or 40 degrees in summer! [He’s joking, by the way.]
When did the whole bike packing, lovely luggage thing really kick off for you?
Veronica: Our first trip was Japan to Malaysia in 2015, with the classic cycle touring set-up – panniers and a rando bag. When you use the same thing repeatedly, you form a lot of opinions about how you would do it. When we left road touring and wanted to get more out into nature and away from the traffic, we realised we needed better equipment.
Harry: This small-scale bag making thing, where they were more interesting looking and practical, was huge in the US. There were hundreds of people making bags over there. And when we looked over here, that wasn’t really the same story. That was our ambition at the beginning: to be a little bag maker and stand out in the UK market, which we didn’t think would be difficult.
Veronica: The one thing we did find difficult when we were preparing for our trek was finding bags that were technically well-performing, but that were interesting, or came in fun colours – not black or grey.
What was the design brief for these bags from Pedal Me’s side?
Veronica: The bags that they were using were not designed specifically for the Pedal Me bikes. So it is never going to perform as well. The bag needed to fit with the seating.
Harry: The Pedal Me bags have a hard life – they get used a lot. The previous design had a zip that ultimately failed, because that’s what happens with zips if you use them a lot. It wasn’t quite the right bag for the bike anyway, plus there were these maintenance issues on top. So our design was constructed in a way that reduced all possibilities of failure, as far as possible.
Harry: The new design is roll top, so no zips. We also did away with the attachments of plastic buckles, which fail long term. The attachment system is now far more durable, but also cheaply and easily replaced if needed. When Irakliy was explaining how the bags and bikes were used, how they needed to be rolled up and stowed on-bike when not in use, and did not require removal when carrying a passenger, we understood once we had done a bit of design work that once rolled up, the bag would provide a buffer zone for the passenger. It also allowed us to add pockets that could be used in either rolled or open position.
The other big thing with design is that although it is made specifically for Pedal Me, we spend a lot of our time working on luggage that does not move too much and fits the coachwork, so that works both ways.
What else do you have in production for us?
Veronica: We are have just finished some tool rolls with Pedal Me in pink.
Lovely stuff! Thank you, both.