The RSW team & how we got here..
From crowdfunding to pop-up to permanent.
The model behind Rising Sun Workshop has been community funded to date and was designed to survive independently (for-profit) while mandating to invest back into the community that supports it. The driving mission behind RSW is to actively involve its community in the evolution of the business and workshop.
The Restaurant and retail offers an added revenue stream that is also aligned with philosophies around community and collaboration, which is essential to ensuring the workshop remains affordable for workshop user.
RSW emerged on the scene through a successful crowdfunding campaign through Australian platform Pozible and from that has grown its following and community support from 160 members to over 200 before our doors open. Aiming to champion and support other businesses to engage in collaborative consumption as the best way to stay connected to their community and give them a say in how the business serves them.
Adrian and Heleana were living in a tiny apartment when they bought a Yamaha SR400 from a friend. With only street side parking available and a set of Allan keys left over from their IKEA furniture, they often dreamt about the kind of place they’d like to hang out at. A place that had tools, like-minds and great coffee.
Shortly after the pair moved in with Heleana’s parents which also meant having access to her fathers 30yr+ collection of tools, his knowledge wrenching on cars, and their retired and curious neighbour (also an ex-mechanic) which meant almost over night, Adrian went from tinkering to building a full custom from the ground up in two years. Dan also moved in and brought a coffee machine with him, and all of a sudden their friends started coming round for a coffee or brew to help each other wrench.
The three of them started looking for spaces in Sydney that would take this idea out of their shared garage and into the world, when they came across a site in Newtown Sydney. The building was the first drive-in service station in Australia built in the late 1940’s called the Rising Sun Service Station. They didn’t get the building but they did take from the experience the name and notion behind it. “Rising Sun Workshop” was to be a place of new beginnings and inspired by a business that was the first of its kind.
In 2013 the three launched a crowd-funding campaign which would last 90 days and raise $40,000 from over 160 other riders and supporters who also believed they needed the same space and trusted RSW to do it. Embedded in the Sydney Café Racer scene, the team quickly expanded their message to all riders from all walks of life who wanted a place to do anything - from their own motorcycle maintenance through to project builds but were limited to their lounge rooms, car spots, curbs and store rooms.
Finding a home
Fresh from the excitement of a successful crowdfunding campaign and a community eagerly waiting in the wings, The legacy of the Rising Sun Service Station, the first of its kind in Australia seemed to follow the RSW team as they ran full pelt into the gauntlet that would be trying to lock down a home. What they learnt, the hard way, was that there was only one local government area in central Sydney that would allow both the workshop and restaurant to co-exist in full. Communal workshop spaces for motorcycle enthusiasts were a completely new use that local planning legislation had no way to identify, hence the closest fit was a mechanic space which produced many undue limitations on where and how RSW could exist. Unwilling to settle or compromise the vision, the team stuck to their guns until the right location was found.
Harley-Davidson Australia approached the team with a sponsorship offering to help RSW members wrench on a brand new 2014 48 Sportster to see what a bunch of amateurs could do with the elite machine, an offer too hard to refuse. By happenstance, while having beers in Camperdown park recovering from two failed attempts at securing a home, the team noticed a building advertised as a “pop-up lease” across the park, looked at each other and went for it. While barely legal, the pop-up was the best risk they had taken to advance their chances at finding security. In the six months between April – October 2014 RSW were in Newtown, their members built the Hill-Fighter (hill climber-cum-street fighter custom H-D 48Sportster), brought Ramen to Newtown, showed the world what RSW was about whilst nurturing a loyal following of locals who welcomed RSW into their hood with open arms.
An 100 + year old hardware store becomes Sydney’s first communal workshop space for motorcycling enthusiasts.
RSW find a home and don’t have to leave Newtown!