Blend: Bringing together coffee and bicycles.

29 Sep 2015

As cycling grows in popularity in Auckland, opportunities for new businesses are beginning to grow. One company, Blend, comprised of the industrious partnership of Sarah and Drew Duff-Dobson has identified a market that is beginning to flourish.

Cycling and coffee: a marriage made in heaven

Blend takes its inspiration from cycling store and coffee bar crossovers in Japan and Europe and specialises in urban cycling brands and accessories, including tokyobike and other small retailers and independent businesses.

While matching the bike with the person is at the core of Blend, the ground-breaking combination of ethically sourced coffee and boutique cycling accessories is a business model new to Auckland and one that brings coffee drinkers alongside casual and committed cyclists.

Sarah, co-founder of Blend, brings years of experience from the tourism and retail industries and says that, “with Drew working in the coffee and hospitality industry for many years, including establishing and managing a number of hospitality venues, he understands people seek out and appreciate good coffee.”

Blend has been successful in marrying the two worlds of coffee and cycling and Sarah says that’s in part due to the ‘touch and feel’ nature of the store, which encourages people to handle and inspect urban cycling accessories in a non-intimidating environment, great for beginners and veteran cyclists alike.

“tokyobike retail outlets are aesthetically more like a lifestyle store,” says Sarah. “We wanted to re-create that feeling and the coffee bar facilitates a space that people are comfortable to spend time in.”

Despite the store’s success Sarah says that the start-up was initially a large gamble as they didn’t know how big the demand would be.

“tokyobike have been incredibly supportive and allow us to ship in small quantities. We have taken the same approach with our cycle accessories and are fortunate to deal with creators that appreciate we are in a smaller urban cycling community.”

Measuring success

For Sarah, measuring the success of Blend isn’t about turnover or bottom lines but how the company can work to encourage and grow Auckland’s cycling culture.

Blend’s measurements of success are:

  • Feedback that people love the coffee and concept
  • Encouraging, inspiring and re-engaging people to cycle
  • Supporting innovative products from start-ups and smaller independent companies
  • Using sustainable resources and supporting local New Zealand businesses through the coffee bar
  • Being involved in local events such as the Sunday Best bicycle ride in Auckland

As the company grows, Blend is focussed on growing the community alongside it. Sarah sees Blend’s involvement in that as normalising cycling and helping people understand it can be done in everyday clothes and isn’t reserved for athletes or professionals.

SBN is working with businesses in four transformation areas.
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