Airdrop might still be a young company, but it's been a long time in the making.
I was never comfortable working for someone else; I would get frustrated when the business I worked for went in a direction I didn’t agree with, and I was powerless to affect change. I had this naïve idea of what sort of place I wanted to work: a small group of people, doing work we really believe in; something worth doing well, building things we could be proud of. Instead of money and profit the priorities would be fun and quality.
Although I worked at some cool places, it was never like that. I realised if I wanted it to be that way, I’d have to make it happen myself. So I worked hard, learned as much as possible and every month I set a bit of cash aside towards the goal.
After 12 years I still didn't feel ready but I was unhappy; the place I was working was so far from my vision of how it should be. I needed a change and I felt that I had nothing to lose. I had a bit of money to get started, so I quit. It was the hardest and best decision I ever made.
But there was a problem: I still didn't know exactly what I wanted to do. I rode my bike every day, hashed out some ideas and before long one idea started to stick: bikes. I realised I was just trying to find ways to be around bikes. So why make excuses? I only had one shot at this, so I thought I should aim high. I didn't know then just how high I was actually aiming...
After 12 years of saving, Ed quit his job as a designer hoping to get away from working to make some asshole rich. Over the course of that Summer, the big idea for Airdrop started to come together. Development of the first designs began and the search for a factory started.
The Airdrop brand started to take shape along with the plan to run it as a direct-to-customer business. Ed's converted his spare room into an office and garage into the first workshop. The first batch of Edit v1 went into production and with that the life savings ran out. In December the first Airdrop website went live as the Edit appeared in MBUK.
Word started to spread about a new bike brand coming out of Sheffield which got us into Dirt Magazine and Wideopen. We teamed up with Gee Milner, Sam Taylor and the Clayspades crew to shoot a video in Wharncliffe. Clayspades captured the #sessionsnotseconds ethos and got loads of people stoked through a Pinkbike VOD. Brett Penfold won the inaugural Howard Street Dual on a modified Edit dual bike, beating Peaty and Ratboy in the process and opening a few more eyes to what Airdrop could do.
Ed smashed up his shoulder a few too many times so needed major surgery. Meanwhile Airdrop was getting busy so when James Crossland came back from New Zealand he came on board as Airdrop's first employee. The garage was too small so we took on the Alderson Road workshop which was a big step up. We launched the Edit v2 followed by the Bitmap hardtail.
With Airdrop a bit more established and James on board, we started to push some bolder projects, including our first dirt jump bike, the Fade. It felt like a big risk at the time but proved to be a hit. That gave us the confidence to start work on what became the Edit v3 and the first sketches of the Slacker.
The Edit v3 launched in Spring and was such a big hit it almost broke the business; we sold out way faster than expected. In Autumn Andy Donnachie joined the team as a dedicated bike and wheel builder just in time for the Fade To Black limited edition, which sold out in a week. The Workshop got robbed for the second time forcing us to look for a new spot, eventually leading us to Sheaf Bank. We decided to go public with The Slacker Project on Christmas Day.
The early part of the year was spent building the new workshop, warehouse and office at Sheaf Bank. It's a huge step up but should enable us to take everything to another level, and one step closer towards the original vision for Airdrop. The Slacker Project continues towards the first proper prototype. Meanwhile the third batch of Fades is due in April with some very special limited editions planned...
Ed is the owner of Airdrop Bikes. A former web and graphic designer, he sacked off his job one day and decided to start up a bike brand.
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