The idea for Wizard Works was conjured up on a bike tour somewhere between Japan and Malaysia. Eight years on, founders Veronica and Harry have turned their dream into a fully-fledged bike bag business. Veronica spoke to us about the pair’s passion for cycling, the importance of sustainable design, and why they love working in Design District.
You can visit Wizard Works' studio, Monday - Friday 9.30 - 5pm. Plan your journey here.
Design District (DD): Hi Ve! Let’s start from the top. How and why did you start Wizard Works?
Veronica (Ve): Harry and I became obsessed with bike travel sometime in 2012. The seed of the idea that would become Wizard Works was planted in 2015 while we were on a year-long cycle tour through Asia. Our motivation was threefold: we wanted a better work-life balance, to do something more creative, and make a career out of our passion for bikes.
By 2016, Harry was making bike bags from our Canadian base. What started as a hobby quickly turned into a side hustle, and in 2019 we made the big move to the UK to see how far we could take Wizard Works.
Want to see how the story unfolded? Take a look at the Wizard Works timeline.
DD: You’ve made your mark in the UK cycling industry. What makes Wizard Works unique?
Ve: The classic cycling narrative - and the one you still see the most - is very masculine. Cycling is often portrayed as a sport that involves endurance and suffering, through which you have fun.
With Wizard Works, we wanted to carve out a space that championed a more accessible and playful version of cycling. Our design language is based on cute shapes and bright, playful colours, which is reflected in our branding and content. This sense of fun is what makes us, and our bags, distinctive.
DD: What have been your career highlights so far?
Ve: In 2022, CNN invited Harry and me to Turkey for a week of bike riding. Exploring a country by bike was how we began the Wizard Works journey in the first place, so it felt like a poetic full circle to take this trip and talk about why we love bike travel.
Another highlight was moving into our space in the Design District. This was a big step and signalled an important phase in the growth of our business. And while we’re growing, we’re passionate about being a local manufacturer and creating good jobs in the textile industry - every time we hire someone (four times now!) is a celebratory moment for us.
DD: What about any obstacles?
Ve: Neither Harry nor I are from a textiles or manufacturing background, so we’ve had to do a lot of learning about materials and processes along the way. On that note, a business or marketing background would’ve also been very helpful! What we’ve lacked in transferable skills we’ve made up for with on-the-job experience and research.
DD: How important is sustainability to Wizard Works?
Ve: Sustainability is at the heart of our business, and we’re always working to do more. The very nature of our products means we make products that facilitate carbon-free travel, and we strive to make each bag a buy-it-once product, backed up with a lifetime warranty and repair service. We’re also 1% for the Planet members and pledge to donate at least 1% of annual sales to environmental causes.
When we started Wizard Works, we assumed we could be the most sustainable by virtue of being very small. Instead, we’ve found that as we grow, our opportunities to be more sustainable grow too. Recently we’ve been able to transition many of our materials to ones with an FC (fluorocarbon)-free coating, and our next big sustainability move is to transition our outer fabric to one we’ve been testing for a while. It’s fully recycled, has a water-based coating and is made in Europe.
Read more about Wizard Works’ commitment to sustainability here.
DD: You’ve done a lot of collaborations. Can you tell us about some of your favourites?
Ve: We’re big fans of RÆBURN, so it was a huge deal for us when Christopher [Raeburn] reached out about a collaboration last year. The project was to make a small range of bike bags out of unused peeler suits, which are coverall garments used by civil responders and the police.
The RÆBURN aesthetic is very tech, while Wizard Works is very cute, so it was a fun challenge for the team to merge the two styles in a way that celebrated both while honouring the life of the peeler suits. We love the result! You can read more about the collaboration and see the finished collection here.
We’re currently working on a very exciting project with a brand we’ve been fans of for a long time, but my lips are sealed for now. Sorry!
DD: What advice would you give to other creative people who want to start their own business?
Ve: If you’re doing something you’re passionate about and something you really enjoy, it’s very easy to work all the time. In the beginning, this might be necessary, but make sure you have a route to taking regular time off. Working 24/7 isn’t sustainable, and burnout is real.
DD: What do you love most about your work?
Ve: I love seeing the bags out on adventures of their own. Bike travel changed my life and it’s exciting to think that someone is out there, with their Wizard Works bags, on a magical adventure that’s changing their life too!
DD: You moved to Design District in 2022. Why is it important for you to work in a creative and stimulating space?
Ve: Making things is really important and really cool. This country needs more people making stuff, but the classic factory environment isn’t an appealing place for young people to work.
For us to create a dynamic manufacturing business that retains staff and gives people fulfilling jobs, we need to be in an environment that centres community, champions creativity, and has all the amenities you would expect in other creative sectors. No one wants to spend their workday stuck at an industrial estate in the middle of nowhere with one greasy lunch option.
DD: Why did you choose Design District as your London base?
Ve: When we came to see the space, D2 was still a construction site, but we saw the huge windows and the lovely green façade and knew this was the place for us. There’s often a disconnect between the consumer and the production process of the things they buy and use. We’re passionate about making our own stuff, and we love that people walking past can see the bags being made and the people who make them.
Since moving in, we’ve made our studio our own. Our brand is based around being playful and cute, and Design District presented a unique opportunity to have a manufacturing space that reflects our design language.
DD: What’s next for Wizard Works?
Ve: In the short term, we have three new bags slated for release in 2023, including our first wearable bags. We also have the exciting collaboration we’re working on, a summer of fun events, and our first international bike show, Bespoked Dresden.
Longer-term, we’re growing our production capacity and exploring ways to improve our technical capability. We also plan on having lots more fun and eating lots more snacks.
If you’re inspired by the creative businesses making Design District their home, why not join them? Find out more about Design District here.