- Buyer's Guide
Interview with Kevin Murray of Velomacchi
With an already impressive resume having worked with brands such as The North Face, Black Diamond, and Eagle Creek, while creating his own successful design agency, Syren Industrial Design & MFG. Co., Kevin Murray still has something to prove. He has combined years of experience and brand knowledge along with his passion for motorcycles and riding to launch his own brand, Velomacchi. Letting the designs do the talking, the collection features everyday carry for the dedicated motorcyclist enthusiast. We caught up with Kevin to talk about his inspiration, motivation, and the latest Kickstarter campaign.
What was your inspiration in starting this brand?
I initially developed the brand when I was living in Italy working for The North Face. I remember riding in the Dolomiti and being really impressed with the Italians’ aggressive style of riding. Most of the roads in northern Italy were built by Mussolini. They are these tiny little two-lane roads that are more like go-kart tracks with semi’s on them.
Where does your passion for motorcycles stem from?
I have no idea…I can’t remember a time when I didn’t think about them. My boy is 4 and he has had the bug since he could walk. He begged me for a little JR50 at 3 and was challenging Brad Baker up at Castle Rock Race Park when we were testing the Velomacchi Husqvarna 510. It was hilarious. The only way I could get him off the track was wait until he ran out of gas…
As an industrial designer, why did you choose this as your first venture for starting a brand?
Starting a brand is a huge venture. You have to have a commanding grasp of all aspects of the business from RD&D to branding, marketing advertising, content design, development and production, freight forwarding, customs, fulfillment, warehousing, retail sales strategy, web and social media development and maintenance, video, photography, script writer, craft services, etc, etc… So I figured I had better be passionate about the subject matter. I already eat, breathe and sleep moto so it seemed the natural choice.
What general steps are involved in your creative process? Does your team work alone or collaborate?
As a lot of my clients are competing in very crowded spaces, I focus a lot of energy on product line strategy first.
I want to understand the consumers’ problems, the retail environment, the competitive landscape and the strengths and weaknesses of both the brand and the competitors in that space. We then map out a strategy to make sure we are bringing something different to the space that is solving real problems and will grow their business in that particular distribution segment.
How would you describe your design aesthetic and what influences the style of Velomacchi?
Velomacchi builds race-ready products for aggressive riders. Our solutions have to be function-driven as our customers are usually pushing the limits of their gear in dangerous environments and at speed. That underlines every decision we make about materials, trims, patterning and color strategy. I have also noticed that the best riders, the ones who have a natural gift for manoeuvring at speed and quite frankly the biggest balls, are always the quietest and most humble guys when they are off the bike. We strive to build that same humility into our gear. The motorsports market is filled with the white noise of screaming logos and striking colors and patterns. We just want to build simple gear with premium materials that gets the job done.
What design details separate your bags from others?
• The first seam-sealed watertight main compartment with mag-coupling rolltop closure for quick access and weathertight security for tablets, laptops and accessories.
• Aluminum side hooks secure rolltop panel for high-speed travel. Tuck away inside liner when not in use.
• Aluminum adjustable over strap with Velcro strap keeper secures the load while offering expandable carry volume and maintaining the extra strap age.
• Adjustable length shoulder straps to fine-tune the fit of the pack for any rider’s armor or riding position.
• Quilted and sculpted back panel with 1680D ballistic nylon for a secure fit.
• Tuck-away 30mm waist strap for high-speed stability.
• Two front expandable pockets with mag coupling closures and a high-speed snap for added security at speed.
• Large zippered front pocket with kissing welt seam for quick access in a weather-protected compartment.
• 1000D Cordura nylon for ultimate durability and weather resistance.
• Tie down straps to attach the pack to a bike.
• Fully loaded backpack fits into Pelican side cases and panniers.
• German Fidlock accessory attachment point on shoulder strap for smartphone charging pockets.
• Tool/Medical pouch pocket on lumbar so you are always ready for any emergency.
How does this design help when riding?
The pack is designed to operate at two speeds. For in-town commuting or running errands quick access is critical. We use magnetic closures for the front pockets for quick access and closure. We then include a stainless steel round snap to keep the quilted pocket cover secure for traveling at high speeds. Same with the main opening. We have the mag coupling which closes the main opening and a single aluminum hook over the top for quick security. If you are heading onto the freeway or traveling at higher speeds there are two additional hooks to secure the sides of the main compartment that are tucked up under the mag coupling when not in use. The back panel has been tailored and constructed to hug the rider’s back and remain stable at high speeds. The shoulder straps can be adjusted in length to position the pack properly on any rider whether they are wearing armored leather or a Carhartt jacket. There is a lumbar pocket to secure a med pack or tool pouch at the base of your back so you always have them with you.
What are your goals and expectations for Velomacchi?
Honestly, right now, my main focus is to get through the Kickstarter campaign, successfully fund, and deliver great product and service to everyone who has supported us out of the gate. This is all I’m focusing on. Once we sell and deliver product at the standards we have set, we are legit. We have lots of plans for the future but they all depend on building an honest relationship with our community and walking our talk.
What other products do you plan on releasing in the future?
Once we get through the Flat Track collection on Kickstarter, we are focusing on working with a local builder to design a competitive desert racer, and go after the land speed record for the world’s fastest messenger bag at Bonneville. We will be documenting the build and sharing with our community the process and innovation behind the build. It will also give us good insight into the aerodynamics of the bag and the material stresses for our next round of welded packs. We also have glove projects we are getting ready to launch as well as a collaboration on footwear.
Can you elaborate on using the phrase, “Facta Non Verba”?
A few years ago we designed and developed a base layer system for a company that built deep water solutions for Navy SEAL teams. I ran across this motto during the research phase of this program and it just stuck with me. The English translation is literally “Deeds Not Words”. As I mentioned before, the riders that I really respected were always the quietest and humblest gentlemen in the pack.
I feel it is the same way with brands today. Sometimes, the only way to stand out above the noise is to be quiet… Our initial color story is black and white and we are focused on building simple premium gear with purpose.
Why is it so important to you to support the Privateers?
For us the glory is in the fight, not the finish. Most brands are focused primarily on telling the story of the podium. They miss the drama, elegance and agony of being under-funded and outgunned every weekend. Privateers ride to the edge of their limits and they rely on their guts and instinct to prevail. These are the riders we want to build product for.
What are you working on at the moment?
At Syren we are getting ready to launch a new line for Levi’s and helping a company that has built dry suits for NASA and the Air Force to leverage its technical heritage and materials into appropriate lines for a recreation distribution.
You have an impressive CV, having worked for North Face, Black Diamond, and Eagle Creek to name a few; what’s the most valuable lesson you have learned along the way?
Measure twice, cut once…and ZIG when everyone else ZAGs…