I´m taking a break from sharing about my time in Spain to tell you about my friend´s HeSo inspired enterprise. I recently bought an awesome bike from Nathan Einschlag. We used to teach at the same school until he left to live in China for two years. He fell in love with the bike culture there, and more specifically the legendary bike called Flying Pigeon. He recently bought 140 of these bikes to sell in the States. First read the interview then visit his website so you can ride your very own flying Pigeon!
Where does the name Flying Pigeon come from?
It comes directly from the Chinese factory in Tianjin. The name represents the liberation of the Chinese people after the Japanese invaded China in the late 1940’s. The image of the Flying Pigeon is actually a representation of a dove symbolizing freedom. The Flying Pigeon bicycle has a rich history in China and has been named a “national treasure” by the People’s Republic.
That´s a lot more history than a Huffy. What made you want to sell them?
I didn’t wake up one morning and think, oh, wow, I want to become a bike salesman. It was much more than that. I wanted to bring something tangible from China to the United States almost as a cultural exchange. There are a lot of people in the States that have never ridden or heard of Flying Pigeon bicycles, and a lot of people who have negative stereotypes about China and their craftsmanship. Bringing the Flying Pigeon bike to the States was a way for me to help immerse Americans in Chinese culture as well as continue my love of riding bikes here in the States and also show that China has great products that can stand up to American standards.
It took a lot of guts to buy 140 bikes. Can you describe some of the anxieties you felt before making such a risky commitment, and how you got past them?
A friend of mine once asked me what I would do if fear didn’t exist. There comes a time in your life when you want to experience more, do more, and learn more. I made a choice, and stuck to it. Fear and anxiety were just motivating factors, not inhibitors like so many people let them be. Life is about risk and reward. Without the first you can never have the second.
I completely agree. Part of my motivation for the HeSo project is to make fear a motivation rather than an inhibitor. A lot of people use money as an excuse for not taking risks. How did you finance your enterprise?
I was lucky enough to find an investor who believed in my idea and in me. I’m not an advocate of spending money foolishly, but I say if you are driven and have a plan, then do what you have to do to get there. Scared money doesn’t make money, as the old saying goes.
I´ve never heard that expression, but I like it. How do you plan to sell all of those bikes?
I’m starting from the ground up. Literally- flyers on light-posts and hitting the streets to meet people face to face. I’m taking out craigslists ads and putting bikes on EBAY. I’m going to be hitting the bike store circuit pretty hard this upcoming week to stir up some interest on the distribution front. Word of mouth has proven to be the best so far, but getting the company name on blogs (thanks) is also the direction I’m trying to move in. I really want to get to know the customers buying a Flying Pigeon bicycle. When you buy a bike you’re not only saying you like the bicycle, but that you trust the company name and believe in what I’m trying to do.
Why should someone buy a bike from you?
I think people want to relate to other people in life. People want to be heard and comforted. People want to get their ideas out and ultimately want to trust and be trusted. I want to create a brand where these feelings and emotions are felt with each purchase. When I started NYC Flying Pigeon I wanted to make sure that each of my customers would be fully satisfied with a purchase, and that they would be walking (in this case riding) away with something unique and rich in history, much like each of us is. Each bike is limited in quantity to 40 pieces. These aren’t bikes that you can just go down to the store to buy. They are durable, and have been
spotted all over the world, from Paris to Argentina to Montreal. If you are looking for a bike that will last you a lifetime and has more flavor than your neighbor’s bike, Flying Pigeon is definitely the bike for you.
Describe your perfect day on a Flying Pigeon.
Cruising down a Shanghai street on my way to grab some dumplings with a beautiful lady on the back of my bike.
These bikes are selling quickly so get one soon and enjoy the fall on your new Flying Pigeon!