Nothing goes to plan, but then we're kinda glad it didn't. We promised our crowd-funders that we'd be open within 3 months of the campaign ending in June 2013. While real estate for a unique business like ours was always going to take time, what we didn't expect was how the process would chew us up, steal our money and at times bring us to our knees because the word "motorcycle" was associated with our premises.
The process made us acutely aware of the way 'everyone else' perceives motorcyclists, from being on the receiving end of some of that hate, it's ugly. The perception of motorcyclists, especially those who want premises to wrench and hang-out, don't really have many positive precedents to go by in Australia. Hence, when we try to communicate that men and women alike enjoy riding independently, drink coffee, eat ramen and donuts and are generally very happy to share a space with mothers groups, students and business people drinking lattes... they don't believe us.
For our survival we're very careful to represent the motorcycling community accurately, which turns out, is completely aligned with the RSW ethos. Inclusive, supportive, passionate and under the right circumstances ego-free.
The pop-up, while done both out of frustration and to get the chance to build a 2014 H-D 48 Sportster with RSW members, was finally our chance to appear on the scene much to the surprise and delight of locals. Most people who walked into our pop-up became regular ramen devotees without even recognising their patronage was supporting a communal workshop! Hardly the outlaw shenanigans many expect.
The pop-up taught us many things, and perhaps most importantly it showed us that Newtown and its community is where RSW belongs. Locals are keen to support homegrown business that give back and care about their patronage. They loved that we started life as a crowdfunding campaign and believe that places like Rising Sun Workshop are the exact reason why they live in this dense, urban suburb.
We keep documenting our journey with the aim to showing others what is possible, and so asked Kate Disher-Quill to continue her great work on our crowdfunding video to document the pop-up story (seen above). If we are to be used as an example of a communal space for motorcyclists, we're going to make sure it is positive and inclusive, if for no other reason than to prove the naysayers wrong.