Inspirer: Myles Chandler
Myles Chandler is an Industrial Design graduate from UC and part owner of Mocan and Green Grout and Goodspeed Bicycle Co. Residing in the best city in Australia – Canberra, he has become a well-known creative business owner and jack of all trades. An insightful and knowledgeable person who is never short of anything to say and someone that is always teaching me something new, here is a quick chat we had.
What made you want to study industrial design?
I think ever since I was a kid I was always making things, pulling things apart, designing things, drawing and coming up with boats, cars and weird inventions. Industrial design was the grown up place to do that. It encouraged your ideas to go free and the course taught you how to turn it into a process – how to apply it in a range of scenarios through life, which were as simple as designing a product or identifying a problem and finding a solution. It offered an outlet to the things I had already done.
You’ve told me in the past you designed boats after graduating. What got you into boats and how did you kick off that career?
I always drew boats. Ever since I was little [I’ve] loved the idea of designing boats and sailing yachts. When classmates were interested in cars and smaller projects, I still loved boats and the places and imagery that came with it. As I was still passionate about it after uni, I left for Perth. That summer after uni I approached Sam Sorgiovanni who was really only [one of] a handful of yacht designers at the time. There was a small office of about four guys. I had asked for a job but he declined so instead I offered to work for free. I worked for free for about two months and then he decided to give me an allowance. [I] stayed for another three months working on private yachts and large scale projects.
After that I left for Europe. While living in Italy for about six or seven months, I was applying and looking for jobs. I went to Monaco for a yacht show and Sam also happened to be there launching one of his boat projects. They put me up and I got a job working on the project. I applied for some offices and the one callback I got was from Ken Freivokh – a terrifying man in the industry. Their office was in the Isle of Wight, [and] with such a high turnover of staff, things started to weigh in on me. I had only planned to stick around for one year. Being new to the industry, there was more experience I wanted to gain.
It was good because I learnt a little bit of everything, which meant I could have a level chat with the builders and could appreciate them more. I gained a lot of experience and made numerous contacts. However, it was very hard and work was scattered. Overall, trades changed the dynamic of my design work and how I run my businesses today.
How did Mocan and Green Grout come to be?
Mocan Bros. came from the Slovenian mentality – to be resilient and tough. It is applied to people, old cars, bikes, engines – beat them up and they keep coming back. David [Alcorn] and I were always still riding bikes and building things. We started building bikes and creating a brand around Mocan. It was about the time when fixed gears came in; we tapped into it at the right time. It was the underpinnings for Mocan and Green Grout and the groundwork for Goodspeed Bicycle Co.
The cafe came in about 2011, when Molonglo was building the New Acton precinct. They were trying to find the right people that were on the same wavelength. We’d have meetings and rant about things, it was a complimentary partnership. I started building the concept for a bike shop with a coffee + bar, which was going to be under Hotel Hotel but was approached to take over the current space we have now instead. Molonglo had run into a difficult situation, so I picked up the plans and put it together. I project managed it and we built it.
When Mocan started it escalated very quickly. Within the first 12 months the espresso bar was getting an extension and was turning into a cafe/restaurant.
Goodspeed Bicycle Co. was built because we couldn’t find a space that I liked and we didn’t really have the cash flow either to be paying rent on another site. That’s when I suggested that I build something. The idea was to build a container and find somewhere to put it. Everyone agreed and the next day I started cutting up a container, spending my own money and the next six months building it. I brought people back to see it and after that, it was approved. The guys started developing the landscape and were trying to figure out where to put it. That’s when we ran into some opposition, which turned into an 18 month legal stoush. Over that time we drummed up a lot of support from Cycling Australia, big architect firms and lots of Canberran residents. I wasn’t interested in the fight – that wasn’t the issue at stake. I knew that everyone was going to love it. It just had to fit in really fast.
We accomplished this in our first two weeks, but I was still building windows and finishing off the container while I was servicing bikes. I had managed to build a bike shop right in the middle of someone else’s pride and joy. It was a huge risk for them to take but it has added value to New Acton.
I spend a lot of time dreaming beyond it. It’s a part of it. It’s consuming – it has to be. To do it right.
What motivates/drives you?
I like building things. I just like making things. [I] can’t help it.
While you have the energy to do that and you’ve got an ability to do something, you’ve got an obligation to do it. The other thing as well is that it’s very rewarding. I’ve known too many people who have families or are retired who feel that they are hard done by or are a bit bitter. They don’t feel like it should be that hard or that they’ve gotten anything back from it because you expect that there is going to be an acknowledgement for the things you do, which worries me but you’ve got to get the satisfaction from building it.
I know that if I keep pushing and building these things that one day I will lose the motivation and just want to sit in a hammock and pick grapes. But hopefully by then I will feel like I’ve accomplished a lot in my life and that I’ve created something.
What inspires you?
That’s a challenge. I’m a very easy person to switch. Just ask me something. I’m always wanting to know more. I get an intense satisfaction from knowing how to do things.
The more that it happens and the more that you look around, you will see people who talk about doing things but have a million reasons as to why they can’t do it. I’ve constantly got a weird thing in my head where I think I can do everything. The more that you do it, you can. It’s the drive.
If I was abandoned on an island, I wouldn’t know what I would do. It would be mental! I would probably build an energy generator that doesn’t turn off. Maybe one day… hopefully it happens when I can afford to finally stop. That’s the other problem. Some people are good at saving to look after themselves – I’m not. If I’ve got any money or any time – I’ll spend it on building. I’m building two gardens up there and a new workshop. I just can’t help it!
Take care of what you build and in return it’ll take care of you. I am surprised by that. I’m going along and I’m hammered.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
In all honesty, do something you’re proud of. Cause out of all the motives that’s the best one. People build things and have capabilities and just get by in life. When it comes down to it, how are you going to be proud? It’s a legacy thing. You build something that’s going to define you. That’s the most important thing. That’s the fallback; if everything else flops and you’ve done something that you’re proud of, people can see that you’ve put a lot of yourself into it and that always has value.
If you gave away your knowledge and expertise, kind of like shared it a bit, you can always be proud of that. That’s the motive that will get you through. People who do things for money will only do it while there is money and most businesses run out of money. That’s never a good one.
The only way you can make sure nothing is taken from you is to just give it away. The pride of what you have created is enough. You don’t even need to have it physically anymore and I think you’ll always have that.
Do something you’re proud of.
Catherine loves BJJ, cooking, live music and listening to Joe Rogan podcasts. She is currently studying design at CIT and will be studying Architecture in the second half of 2017 at UC.