Rewind to November 2006
I had just embarked on a five week adventure to Central America, leaving behind a career in the advertising world in Sydney.
I had made the decision that it was time to start something new, something for myself, but the question was what.
So as I sat in a little bar in Havana, enjoying a few mojito’s, I started to create a list of things that I could do, would like to do and was good at, and over the next few weeks, the list grew to two pages. Then on the flight home, I whittled it down to five possible options, and then down to one on arriving home and after discussing each of these with a few people.
By this stage, it was now early 2007. The GFC was in full swing, I had just moved to Melbourne and I still thought this was the right time to create a new cycling brand. As per a story I read on a recent trip to Italy about a very successful restaurant owner who made the same decision to start his own some 30 years earlier, ‘’it was now or never.’’
The vision and the winding road to get there
From the very first moment, it was about creating great cycling apparel, with designs and artwork that reflected a passion for riding and the rich history of the sport.
Creating great cycling apparel is still at the core of what we do. Over the years, we’ve continually evolved our offering to most recently include beautiful Italian travel experiences – both to Italy and in bringing a little slice of Italy to our weekends away in Australia.
It has been an incredible journey…..on what you could say has been a long and winding road….with perceptions re-worked and goals re-calibrated.
We have endured some tough times, with even contract work undertaken in the early days to ensure that the door stayed open. But at no time had there ever been a thought of giving up. I always thought, just be patient. It’s going to take some time, and all we need is just small steps in the right direction. And that ‘right direction’ has also changed a couple of times as well. Every cliche I could think of had a new meaning for me.
But the one solid fixture during the early years was the support of my parents, with dad always coming out with the statement “if it was easy, everyone would be doing it.” This was always after we had finished dissecting the latest “issue” that had occurred.
And there have been a few issues and disappointments over the years with people you liked and trusted, twisting arrangements so that it would only benefit them and create a loss to you. So you just recalibrate again, deciding who you’re prepared to work with and take a step to the side, and then another step forward. I guess you learn the hard way that this is really what life and business is all about….and it’s all part of the adventure.
For every disappointment, there’s been many more joys and successes. The thing that always kept me going was the support, feedback and business from our many great customers.
The next part of the adventure…
As time crept on, I meet my wife to be in Bright, Victoria at the Alpine Classic. Who would have thought that would happen on a steamy 33 degree Summer’s day, while selling t-shirts?
The business delivers again.
After a whirlwind romance and a couple of years of pursuing each of our career/business interests, we decided that it was time for Nancy to join the business. While it would be safe to say that the transition of us working together was at times a challenging one, it’s without a doubt that Nancy’s involvement has given A’QTO a new perspective and depth.
During this time, the brand has evolved and been refreshed, a new website has been created, and new product and services have been developed, tested and reworked. With our travel offering taking shape since 2015, we have visited and extensively researched many different regions of Italy and country Victoria to create sensational riding, food and wine experiences. Each group and every experience is different but they are all taking our brand, our enjoyment with our customers and guests, and our experience of life and cycling to a whole new level.
We both share a solid belief of creating a business that is sustainable and has integrity, and a brand that truly expresses our values. A’QTO has evolved and will continue to evolve as we do. We are proud to call it our own, enjoying the immense satisfaction that goes with continually creating new products and experiences together, and sharing them all with like minded people – people for whom ‘quality’ is really important and appreciated, and new places, roads, food and wine amounting to ‘experiences of a lifetime’ are what they remember for years to come.
This is what we love. Big thanks to the many who have joined us on the journey and will continue to for years to come.
PS. Remember to also enter our 10 year anniversary competition to Win 10 Custom Kits for your group.