With a couple of (fair-weather) cycling commuters in-house at TDF these days, beautiful bikes are definitely on our radar… and it’s pretty hard to look past the striking models from new Melbourne-based start-up Copper Co. Bikes.
Tapping into the style-conscious commuter, Copper Co. Bikes’ Chris Randal and Jess Sleep have spent the past year taking their ‘napkin sketch’ concept to shining fruition. They’re about to launch their range of men’s and women’s single-speed bicycles. The two locally-plated copper models come with either white or black accessories, and the addition of front porteur racks and other ‘schmick’ detailing, such as black or honey leather saddles and handlebar extras.
We joined the co-owner couple for a pipe-dreams-to-realities chat, and some Bayside peacocking on beautiful wheels.
Can tell us a little bit about your backgrounds and how they lead to launching Copper Co. Bikes?
Chris Randal: I loved growing up on the Bellarine Peninsula with my family and friends. I’m a very social person and love having our friends over for a beer or two and chat until we’ve solved all the world’s problems. I think this has been a huge contributing factor to the Copper Co. Bikes coming as far as it has. Our network of friends has been so supportive and have all offered a helping a hand wherever they can.
I’m 33, and I’ve always been in business development roles in the automotive and bicycle industries. I found that I’ve always enjoyed my growth and feedback in these roles, so I wanted to push myself again and create my own brand with Jess, who is equally driven in her own right!
Jess Sleep: I’m 25 years old and grew up in Caulfield North, Melbourne. One of my mottos in life is: ‘unless I’m full, I’m hungry’. Chris and I definitely live by this, never missing out on the opportunity to check out a new place to eat or drink (and we’ve found our bikes are always the best way to do this!). My background is in marketing, specialising in the new and exciting world of digital.
Did a specific moment inspire you to launch the brand?
JS: Copper Co. Bikes came to us one night when Chris and I were out for drinks. When we first started dating, I wasn’t a cyclist; reason being, that I couldn’t find a bike on the market which I liked the look of and would be proud to ride (because bike riding is all about looks, right?).
Chris and I then started discussing the aesthetics and features of a bike we’d both want to ride. On a napkin, we designed what we thought would be the schmick-est of bikes on the market. As the conversation continued, without realising, we created a full business plan and even came up with the name, Copper Co. Bikes. Over the next couple of months, this napkin was the foundation of the business, and funnily enough, our business strategy hasn’t changed much since then.
Where are the bikes made and what’s involved in the build?
CR: We source parts and accessories for our bikes from all over the globe including Italy, England and America. We hand-select each component to be the perfect fit for each individual build.
The detailed work is done in Melbourne and the assembly in our garage! As is our name sake, a number of components including frames, handlebars, stem and seat posts are all individually electroplated with a copper finish, locally. We then hand-polish each item as soon as the electroplating process is completed, to ensure the best finish.
To make sure we seal in the shine, we then take the frames to be clear coated. The frames are then baked overnight to secure the longevity of the beautiful copper finish. Timing plays such an important role in the process so that we create the most consistent finish.
Lastly, we engrave a unique sequence number for each bike, as well as a message which the owner can choose – whether this be the owner’s name, business name or even a ‘Happy Birthday’.
What’s been the best bit of this whole venture?
JS: Without sounding too cheesy, successfully being able to work with your partner is such a highlight for the both of us. It is a test to any relationship, but we are so lucky to work well together.
I think another thing about starting a business, is that you start to realise that you have strengths in areas you didn’t even know about. Turns out, I can build websites, and Chris is an INCREDIBLY creative marketer.
CR: Finishing our first prototype was possibly the biggest highlight for both of us, as our vision had finally come to life. To add to this, the satisfaction of people seeing our creation and wanting one of their own is so humbling and rewarding.
Where to next for Copper Co. Bikes?
JS: We are launching our apparel range in the next couple of weeks. We wanted to create clothing for the style conscious commuter, and allow people to connect with our brand on another level.
Find out more about Copper Co. Bikes on their website and online store, and stay tuned for their launch party next month.