Throughout the Profile Series we have explored the stories behind people who inspire us. From DJs, to Special Forces Operatives, to Olympians, each of the interviewees have one thing in common; a love of London Town and being on two wheels.
Next up we are turning our focusing onto our good friend Jack Pattinson - founder of Freddie Grub, manufacturer of Bikes and accessories based out of Islington North London. In many ways, Freddie Grub shares in LUMO's founding ethos: encouraging more people from around the world to enjoy the freedom of their city on two wheels, with no compromise in style or comfort. When we last met up with Jack, we sat down to discuss his vision, inspirations and the future of urban cycling.
What’s your professional background Jack?
I graduated in Product and Furniture Design and have now worked within the furniture industry for over 10 years running a furniture consultancy business and designing various bespoke pieces for commercial interiors. We entered the bicycle industry by chance, meeting the founder of a Japanese bicycle brand at Salone del Mobile Milan back in 2009. Soon after we became their UK distributor and set up their business as a standalone concept bicycle store to help them enter the European market. After that project finished we had the itch to start something of our own.
How did cycling become part of your life?
Cycling has been a part of my life as long as I remember. I was always quite an independent child so as soon as I'd mastered 2 wheels I was off.
What is the vision behind Freddie Grubb?
Well, I’ve always been interested in building bikes. I used to focus on vintage frames and spend all my time finding the right components to match them and then relentlessly maintaining them. With Freddie Grubb the vision was rather selfish; to essentially design and build the perfect bike for me. Based on the fact that a lot of people like the retro aesthetic but most aren't that keen on the maintenance side of things, I set about designing a bike that was comfortable, low maintenance, suited to city cycling and hopefully looked good!
"With Freddie Grubb, the vision was rather selfish; to essentially design and build the perfect bike for me."
THE WALBROOK BY FREEDDIE GRUB. SHOP HERE
Can you explain the name? (sorry, we know you get asked this a lot)
Being a London based brand, we were very keen to make the connection with British cycling. Freddie Grubb was a bit of a maverick and a pioneer of British cycling back in the early 1900's, he won silver medals at the Stockholm Olympics in 1912 and used to build bikes in Brixton up until his death in 1949. So as you can see, he's not our founder, designer or mechanic. He's more of an inspiration. As huge admirers of his achievements and craftsmanship, we thought there was no better person to name our brand after. Plus, Jack Pattison bikes doesn't really have a ring to it right?
You have a similar ethos to LUMO; cyclists shouldn’t have to compromise on quality or comfort in order to look great. Do you think that’s what sets your brand apart from other, more mainstream brands?
The short answer is yes. There are a few mainstream brands who are going down the stylish city bike route but from what we can see, the spec is often way below par and all it will mean is that a couple years down the line you'll end up looking for a new bike. We build bikes to last. The fact they look good is a bonus.
We love your simple, understated designs. What’s the process you go through to bring a new bike to life?
The understated design was a huge part of what we were trying to do. We didn't want to cover our bikes in branding or graphics. For us it's about the details. Bringing a bike to life is quite simple really, when you know what you're doing. We have a set of core components, frames and accessories that we know work well together and our mechanic does a fine job of putting them together. Once our customers decide which frame and gearing option they want, they then get to pick out handlebars, leather options for their saddle and grips, frame colour, baskets, racks, mudguards etc. We've thought very carefully about the options we provide as we still want every bike that leaves our shop to retain the feel and look of a Freddie Grubb but people enjoy the decision process and appreciate that their bikes are made to order, specially for them. It gives a real sense of ownership to our customers.
Freddie Grubb don’t just sell bikes, you have some beautiful lifestyle products in the store. What’s your criteria for choosing which products to bring on and how do they compliment your collection of bikes?
We're all about the bikes really. Our shop is our brand showroom essentially and we were keen to present the bikes in a more residential setting than you would get in most bike shops. Particularly in London, people have nowhere to store the bikes but in their flats so it makes that connection but it's also a testament to our passion for design and aesthetics. We've spent so much time focussing on every detail of the bikes that it was only fitting to do the same for the shop. But you're right, we do sell other products in the shop. We've kitted out the place with some high-end furniture using connections from our other business and we chose chairs, tables and lights that consist of various tubular metallic designs to compliment the frames of the bikes. You'll notice a strong theme of leather and steel in the shop.
Do you have a typical customer?
The majority of our customers are people who see value in quality. The kind of people who pay a little extra for things because they care about the finer details and believe in products that have longevity. A bit like spending extra on a shirt because you've had enough of things shrinking after the first wash. But we get all sorts. Cycling appeals to such a large demographic and more and more people are becoming increasingly mindful about the brands they buy from. People want to know where it's made and by who? I think our customers enjoy the fact they get to buy our bikes from the designer and like the fact that we paint them in Peckham, build them in Deptford and sell them in Islington. It's part of the narrative and provenance is key to our story.
Why did you choose Islington to set up your store?
Well we're a little bit off the beaten track, but it was really important for us to find somewhere that was safe and enjoyable for people to test ride our bikes. Being in a nice conservation area means that our customers can cycle around Myddelton Square without the worry of traffic or busy roads. Amwell Street is fast becoming a destination for many people as it's a charming Georgian parade in a relatively residential area but is full of interesting independent shops.
Fast forward 5 years, where do you see Freddie Grubb?
All over the place, hopefully.
THE FREDDIE GRUBB RAVENSBOURNE IN TEAL.
If you want to see more from Freddie Grubb, head over to their online store or pop in and see them at their Amwell Street shop in Islington.
We've also been busy ourselfs (as if you didnt allready know), having just launched our new range of urban cycle wear over on kickstarter starting at just £99 if you get in there early. For the full lowdown on what we've come up with head over to our Kickstarter page.