INTERVIEW: Justin C. Cohen (Part 1)

Interview: Bikes, Bags, and Abolition with Brandale Randolph - Part I 

by Justin C. Cohen


Today on the blog I talk to Brandale Randolph. His new venture, The 1854 Cycling Company, marries high-end design principles with social entrepreneurship. Before moving to Massachusetts and starting the company, Randolph founded Project: Poverty in Lubbock, TX, where his social justice work formed the basis of his 2014TEDxTalk, “Stop throwing breakfast sandwiches at the poor.” This is the first part of a two-part interview, wherein Randolph and I discuss the intersections of entrepreneurship and social justice; the continuity of social movements across eras; and whether it’s a good idea to make abolition seem “cool.

"Me: Where did you get the idea to start a bike company rooted in the tradition of abolition?

Randolph: When I first got to Boston like a year ago, I was looking to do non-profit work, but all the spots were taken. The grants were gone, all of the big money non-profits already had them. My wife, who teaches entrepreneurship at Babson, said I should start my own business. So just to clear my head, I wanted to go for a bike ride. Which meant I had to go buy a bike. And all the bikes I saw were either these cheap Walmart, clown colored things, or these hyper expensive triathlon bikes. And there was nothing I liked. I really want to like what I buy. I don’t care if it’s two dollars or a hundred dollars, I need to like it. The only bikes I liked were from Europe, with steel frames, just beautiful. Why do I have to import a bike to get the one I want? So I started playing with design, and I wanted to know how much it would cost to build the one I wanted.


People I know seemed to like the design I put together, and the next thing I knew we were designing other versions. A women’s version, the boy’s version. At some point I realized this could be a whole company. We’re starting with the steel frame, a classic fixed-gear bike. We wanted to make it high end, so that we can attract the crowd that’s used to importing those fixed-gear, steel-frame bikes from Europe."

READ the full interview HERE


Brandale Randolph