Staark Cycling was born in October 2018 when Steve and I met on a cycle ride in the UK. The concept behind Staark is simple – we wanted to make high-quality premium performance clothing for Cyclists that was designed to fit all keen cyclists, not just the super skinny 20-somethings.
We ran detailed research to back up our initial hunch and discovered that not only were we right, but that there was a significant market for Staark indoor training and general ‘AthLeisure’ wear, as well as road cycling kit.
Through 2019 we built a team (with ex-Rapha and ex-Tracksmith performance clothing specialists) and set about designing our Cycling ranges.
Steve and I immersed ourselves in the sports clothing market, visiting trade shows across Europe, meeting with fabric suppliers and factory partners in France, Germany, Italy and UK.
In October 2019 we’d reached the point where we had our Spring/Summer, Autumn/Winter and All-Year ranges designed, prototyped and ready for production. We then started the search for funding so we could fuel our brand launch, initial production runs and our first sales & marketing efforts.
Staark hit the ground running in January 2020 and then suddenly COVID-19 struck…
[Maddyness] What have been the biggest professional challenges during lockdown?
[Alasdair] Both Steve and I have come from a background of digital marketing and product development. With Staark, we’re dealing with physical product which means we really need to be in the same room with the fabric technicians, factory partners and material suppliers – so it’s been a huge challenge completing work with FedEx-ing clothing samples around Europew and meeting over Zoom. And, of course, we’re a pre-revenue startup looking for investment during Covid, which isn’t the ideal position.
The upside is that there’s a significant shift to ‘active transport’ with people choosing cycling over public transport and governments across the globe investing heavily in cycling infrastructure. We’ve already started on our Commuter range to address the new market opportunities.
What have been the biggest personal challenges during lockdown?
I live in a large open-plan warehouse in Hackney with my wife and two kids [12 and 14] so the entire lockdown experience has been … interesting! We love to travel, so basically the last 4 months have been less than spectacular on that front. But the silver lining here is that we’re all working from home on 1gigabit fibre and helping out in the local community.