Posted on March 31, 2017
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The following is a Q&A with the man behind LOLA- Anthony Peplow. In this Q&A, Anthony discusses LOLA, his life before getting involved in the bike manufacturing industry, and his vision for the future of his company.
Q: How long have you been involved in the bike manufacturing industry?
A: This is a new career for me, I spent 40+ years as a creative in various design and advertising agencies. Most of them were in London, I then moved to Saatchis in New Zealand and have spent the last 17 years in Singapore. 3 years ago I became despondent with advertising and decided to get out. 2 years ago I went on a a frame building course and decided that my future was bikes, in one form or another.
Q: Why did you enter the bike manufacturing industry?
A. As much as I loved the idea of building bikes it wasn’t a practical career move. The sums just didn’t add up and there are far more experienced builders out there. I asked myself if I would choose me to build me a steel frame and the answer was No. I would much rather trust someone like Tom Donhou to build it.
Q: What do you like the most about being in the bike manufacturing industry?
A. I haven’t been in it long enough to fully answer this question. What I do know is that I am enjoying my work much more than my last years in advertising. Apart from working for myself
It’s nice to be away from all the back stabbing and internal politics of advertising.
Q: How much attention do you pay to websites that review bikes?
A: I follow a selection of bike sites to see what other people are doing and if I could do it better. They are also a good source of inspiration and ideas for the next Lola model. We don’t make a performance bike (yet) so I am not too interested in road performance tests.
Q: How would you describe LOLA's target audience, and what were the factors in your choosing this audience?
A: Our target audience is 67% male and 33% female mainly aged between 25 and 45. They are stylish and image conscious and base their choices on design and build quality.. They are aware of the environment and their health and they’re not interested in becoming competitively cyclists. They want to be able to exercise and commute in style.
Q: Which do you feel has been the best bike produced by LOLA so far?
A: So far we have only produced prototypes of the Fixed gear and the 11 speed hub. Personally I like the simplicity of the single speed to knock around on but think that the 11 speed is much more practical if you do more road riding and commuting. What can I say… they are both good.
Q: What's next for LOLA?
A: We need to start selling bikes so that we can invest in expanding our range. The front and rear light portals are what makes Lola unique. The bikes are currently supplied with the lights as they are a practical requirement of cycling. There is also a lighter side to cycling and there will eventually be a range of fun (and practical) accessories that you can swap with the lights depending on your mood and usage. Currently we are working on designs for flower vases, propellers, selfie sticks, baskets, bags and novelty lights. The potential is endless and will allow the rider to accessorize and personalize their chosen Lola.
Q. What is the next LOLA?
A. Nothing is confirmed but our next bike will either be a limited edition Superleggera road bike or a non-competitive cyclocross. I also fancy making a Lola a mountain bike which might end up as a combination of a cyclocross and MTB. We’ve got lots of exciting ideas and I can’t wait to get started on bringing at least one of them to life.
Q: Many people wish they could start a business based around something that they're passionate about, just like you did. What advice can you give to those people?
A: Starting a business in an industry you know nothing about is never going to be easy, but it does make even the smallest achievements very rewarding.
Having to suddenly do everything yourself was a lot harder than I thought especially when you’ve been used to working in a team. As a creative the hardest part for me was doing all the financial, admin and sales. In the end it is very rewarding but just be prepared and budget for unexpected costs and suppliers and vendors to take a lot longer than you expected. My advice is keep your outgoings to a minimum, expect the worst and enjoy the ride.
Q: What do you do in your spare time?
A: My young daughter takes up a lot of my time and when I can I still like to ride. I don’t sign up for the organized Challenges any more but I still like to get out and about with my mates. Apart from work and riding I still like to do the occasional painting.
Q: What is your long-term goal for LOLA?
A: The plan is to concentrate on building the Lola brand in Singapore before expanding into Asia. Obviously I would like to get into London at some point but there’s no hurry.
The long-term goal is to build Lola into a successful company and a respected global brand. I want it to produce unique, high quality bikes and products in small quantities. I have no desire to become a faceless company who only cares about the bottom and churns out mass produced bikes with no soul.
The short-term goal is to be out for a ride one day and see someone ride by on a Lola.
No doubt they will wonder why I am looking at them and smiling so much.