The history of Prendas Ciclismo
Prendas Ciclismo was founded in May 1996 with the intention of providing a comprehensive clothing service to those who found it tough to source what they wanted through their local bike shop.
After spending the previous eight years in cycle retail, I found I was more stimulated and interested in what a rider wore than what they were riding. As an original partner in a successful bike emporium, I was able to leave that business suitably funded to make my dream a reality.
Originally, the only brand I stocked was Etxeondo the Basque manufacturer (hence the Spanish - not Basque - name Prendas Ciclismo = Cycle Clothing).
However, demand for Mapei team clothing took me to Sportful in Italy who were suppliers to the "super team" for many years.
Various road trips to Italy opened up new avenues for other products and a friendship with ex-pat American Robert Reis in Rome developed these business associations further.
My desire to own a 'Bonjour' French Champion Jersey took me to Santini in 2001. Their acquisition of Mapei in 2002 saw Prendas doing big business with this legendary and highly respected Italian manufacturer to the extent that they are now our main supplier.
The world wide web has seen a huge increase in demand for our products and we now export as much as we sell in the UK. Obviously the mechanics of the business have changed to encompass the development of e-tailing and the addition of Andy Storey (our original website designer) to full time member of the Prendas posse has eased the transition considerably. Andy's IT skills have been utilised to great effect but the focus of the business is still the same as when I commenced in '96 as a one man band in a spare room at home with a fax machine and telephone.
Despite the fact that the business did not own a computer, it boasted a website as far back as 1999. Amazingly, online ordering was still possible via Andy's own PC which he then faxed onward to me.
Later we were housed for 6 years in a funky little business unit which was not glass, chrome and steel but organic and functional which mirrors our business philosophy.
However, with the ever increasing client base requiring a larger stocking plan, we found ourselves seriously challenged for space despite storing stock in a couple of other "lock ups". Eventually, we simply had to find a larger premises as we could hardly get through the door at the "Old Dairy". We were fortunate enough to be able to purchase a small warehouse from a long time friend less than a mile away from the previous address so now have at last got everything under one roof. That's the plus side but on the downside, we have discovered how bloody hard it is to heat a warehouse due to 2009/10 and the next being "proper winters" here in Blighty. No worries though, we are busy so not yet suffering from hypothermia.
I still get a huge buzz from sourcing new, unique and exclusive and hard to find products and in no way am I blasé regarding the benefits which being an 'industry insider' brings. Getting to meet 'cycling greats' and being given V.I.P. accreditation at big races still gives me a thrill and I approach it as a 'tifoso' and not in any kind of 'seen it, done it, got the T shirt' manner.
Some of my suppliers have become good friends and I consider myself privileged to be working with something I am passionate about.
It's ironic that when I commenced working in the cycle trade, my main source of income was in the music industry and cycling was my hobby and now the roles are reversed.
Thanks for reading,
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