Posted by Jonathan Maus ( Publisher/Editor ) on September 24th, 2008 at 9:57 am
29-year-old Erik Olson oversaw product development at Planet Bike for five years and moved to Portland this summer to start his new company. I caught up with him yesterday via telephone from his hotel room in Las Vegas where he’s attending the Interbike trade show.
Portland Design Works is currently a one-man operation, but Olson plans to hire several employees once he finds warehouse space which will enable him to package and ship his products from Portland to bike shops nationwide.
Olson is using Interbike to network with industry contacts and “continue discussions with suppliers.” He told me his products will have a “really simple, iconic design” and that they will be “100% designed in Portland (versus bought off the shelf overseas)”.
“When I look around at many accessories in the market, there’s not a lot of attention given to the design and style of the product.”
At RidePDW.com, Olson writes that he’ll produce, “bicycle accessories that focuses on simplicity, utility and beauty.” During our conversation, Olson said that Portland Design Works will “have a focus on sustainability” and that he’s sourcing vegetable tanned leather and bamboo to use in his products.
The first products we’ll see from the company (which will be made in Taiwan) will be a line of handlebar grips. According to Olson, the grips will be in bike shops by the end of 2008 and he’ll come out with more commuting and transportation-oriented products — like a line of cargo racks — next spring.
Olson says after his wife completed her law degree at University of Wisconsin, “it was a good time for us to pick, move, and try something different.” He said he always wanted to live in the Pacific Northwest and that “obviously” Portland’s bike-friendly reputation figured into his decision.
“I’d been to Portland a couple times before we moved,” said Olson, describing his decision to come here, “in Madison, more and more people are commuting (by bike), but it’s not the same vibe as in Portland… It’s not a big production here, people are riding as part of their lives, in regular clothes, I love it.”
Portland Design Works will make its official debut at the upcoming Oregon Manifest Handmade Bike Show.
— Keep an eye on RidePDW.com.