July 2022 marks 10 years of Stolen Goat. Growing from the first etchings of a plan hatched by our CEO and Founder Tim Bland in his shed in 2012, to the worldwide community of adventure-loving GOATS who have come along for the ride… It’s been quite the adventure!
We thought it was about time we got the inside scoop from the Chief Goat himself. From making him choose his favourite SG jersey to the real story behind the Stolen Goat name. Read on to hear from SG CEO and Founder Tim on the ride so far…
Why did you decide to start Stolen Goat?
Prior to Stolen Goat I was a research engineer. My job was to invent technology that prevented people from copying DVDs and Blu-Rays etc. Our customers were companies such as Disney, Warner Bros and Paramount, amongst others. It was a fun job to be honest – it’s where I learned how to code and also how to work within an agile release cycle.
However, I always hankered after “something else”. For a while I wasn’t really sure what that was, but after a few years and some self-reflection I realised that I wanted a little more freedom in life. Freedom to work with who I wanted on interesting challenges. Freedom to ride my bike a little more. Freedom to spend a bit more time with my family and friends.
I come from a long line of entrepreneurial types. My grandparents started an audio company that ran for over 50 years and so I grew up watching them nurture that business, create new products and care for their staff.
Initially Stolen Goat was my escape from the “9 to 5” but it quickly became something much bigger than that. Watching a micro business turn into a small business and keep making progress is both rewarding and addictive. I saw that in my grandparents’ company and I guess I was excited to try and forge that same path on my own terms.
What was your vision for the company back in 2012?
Ha! “vision”. I’d love to refer you to my eight chapter business plan with detailed forecasts and analysis but my vision started more like this…
“Can I quit my job and make this work for at least 3 months?”
In all seriousness, the first 18 months were very different compared to what followed. SG started as an online retailer selling exotic vintage bikes and parts, cycling themed art prints… that kind of stuff. However, the first thing we sold (within 20 minutes of launching the website) was a Stolen Goat logo casual t-shirt! I knew at that point that we had a brand that people could actually identify with and so the cogs started turning.
By 2014 I had a partnership with several manufacturers that allowed us to pivot into purely producing Stolen Goat goodies. Making our own stuff felt a lot like inventing new things within a short release cycle, which I felt comfortable with based on my previous role.
At that point there was very little on the market that was a) stylish, b) good value for money and c) high quality. So my vision was to bring this Venn diagram together via Stolen Goat. We partnered with high quality manufacturers and sold direct to consumers to keep the retail prices fair (D2C was also less common back then), and invested in hiring experienced creatives like Trevor to cover the style element. Cyclists are a smart bunch and it didn’t take long for word to spread.
Okay, but are we ever going to find out the “real” story behind the Stolen Goat name?
The name is the outcome of various goals I wanted to combine whilst coming up with it…
- It has to be thought provoking. Something you could build a story around and maybe a little bit “out there”. This was inspired by a forum post I read where a woman was ranting about these lovely jeans she had found in a high street shop but she “couldn’t bring herself to buy them” because the brand name was “Fat Face” and “why would you want to say you have a fat face?” LOL. Lots of people jumped in defending the brand and the story behind it. Something about that moment and the brand loyalty that these people demonstrated struck a chord with me I guess.
- When you google the brand name, I wanted to easily dominate the whole page, not just the top spot. If you google Stolen Goat, you only get SG-related items. I like that.
- I wanted something that could allow us to branch out into non-cycling sports. I am a cyclist yes, but in my life I have also been a runner, climber, gym-goer, walker, swimmer (actually my swimming sucks to be honest so not this one)… Again, I wanted the freedom to explore any avenue without being hard coded to one sport.
- Stolen Goat as a name, is somewhat frivolous. Maybe even slightly non-conformist and rebellious. I like this. At the time every new cycling brand was trying to emulate Rapha and so was drawing on “heritage and history”. I wanted something new, fresh and never seen before. Something where you can say “no really, that’s our name”.
Plus it’s so fun watching bank managers try to come to terms with the name of your LTD company!
How it started vs How it’s going
From Tim’s first show at Blenheim Palace in 2012 2 days after launching SG and building the ShedQuarters… to the current Stolen Goat HQ and our stand at The Cycle Show 2022.
How did it feel the first time you spotted someone wearing a Stolen Goat jersey out in the wild?
I remember the day well. I was on a sportive, stopped at a feed station to fill my face with cake and I saw some random guy wearing one of the 6 original jersey designs we launched the range with. It felt strange to be honest, but obviously really special at the same time. I went over, introduced myself and checked he was happy with the kit which he certainly seemed to be.
The funny thing is, seeing our jerseys out in the wild these days still feels just as special to me. But the feeling is different. Back then it felt very lucky… lucky that someone discovered us, or lucky that they happened to like whatever design we had created. Or lucky that they rode somewhere that day where I happened to be able to catch a glimpse of them. These days, more so than luck, I feel immense pride, because now I know that the person is wearing that not because we got lucky, but because every member of staff at Stolen Goat has poured their heart and soul into making it happen. The amount of work that goes into this is incredible and I feel very proud to have such an amazing team that is able to bring this together, season after season. As time goes on I really enjoy spotting some of the older designs out in the wild, it’s very rewarding seeing a product still being used 6, 7 or 8 years after it was made.
If you could only choose one jersey design from over the last 10 years to wear for all eternity (we’d let you wash it… maybe) which one would you choose?
That’s a tough one. For my 40th birthday the whole team pulled together and made a signed jersey (with everyone’s signatures printed on the jersey, very cool). So it would have to be that one specifically, but that’s more about the context of the jersey rather than the design. One design that will always stick in my mind was “The Pledge”, it was one of Trevor’s early limited edition pieces and I think the first time we did a long sleeve bodyline jersey. I wasn’t sure if people would go for the crazy doodle style design so we just launched 100 and they completely sold out in 48 hours which was a real eye opener. I didn’t even get a chance to grab one myself!
What are your top three stand out Stolen Goat moments?
Again, tricky as there have been many special moments. Here’s three in no particular order…
Winning “Best Women’s Cycle Clothing Brand” in 2020. This was a really special moment because we had just gone into lockdown and everything felt very scary and worrying. Winning this award gave us all a massive lift and it felt like we were finally getting recognition for believing in women’s cycling for many years leading up to that. A massive shout out to Sasha Castling for nominating us for the award. Sasha does an amazing job in PR and Marketing for Ribble Cycles and just decided to nominate us for the award. At that point I hadn’t even had a single conversation with Sasha, so it felt like a really genuine nomination from a leader in the industry. Thank you Sasha. And thank you to everyone who voted for us.
Watching The Herd Facebook Group come to life! Again, another pandemic-inspired moment but a special one nonetheless. We started the group so that we could give like-minded people a platform to engage with not only us, but also each other in what was a tricky time for everyone. We didn’t know if it would work or not, but the response was incredible and it was so lovely to see people interact with each other. I think genuine friendships have now been forged as a result of that group. I’m not sure it gets better than that.
The Stolen Goat x Tate Adventures with Art collection. My final moment is from just 2 weeks ago. I went for a meeting with Rosey Blackmore who is the lovely woman that approached us to do the collaboration with Tate. The meeting was in Tate Britain and afterwards we walked around a bit and saw some amazing exhibitions. The Tate Britain building is fascinating to me, its vast and architecturally stunning and you can just feel the history as you walk through it. On the way out I couldn’t resist popping into the gift shop, and in there hung proudly our Stolen Goat x Tate jerseys and accessories. Being a part of that still blows my mind, and again, I’m so utterly proud of the whole team for pulling that project together. It was an awful lot of work with many moving parts and the end result was amazing. A project I will never forget.
What do you think makes SG special?
It’s a cliché but without a doubt it’s the people. The entire Herd including staff, customers and anyone that just follows us for the giggles. Stolen Goat was built on the concept of freedom and escaping the mundane and that seems to attract certain character types. People that respect well-made products, people that care about the world around them, people that empathise with others. People that are brave enough to seek out an alternative path. We’ve always tried to be honest: we’ve never pretended to be bigger than we are, and make no mistake we are still a very small fish in a medium sized pond. And that’s OK. Being small gives us agility and allows us to make changes. We aren’t perfect, we make mistakes, but we never compromise on the quality of the product. If it isn’t right then we just don’t launch it. I like to think that people appreciate that and certainly the customer reviews seem to reflect that, which is nice.
Anything you’d like to say to The Herd?
Yes, two things: Thank you, and don’t stop…
Thank you for your love and support over the last ten years.
Thank you for giving us a go in the first place!
Thank you for actively promoting us to anyone who will listen, we are fully aware that you do this and it has been crucial in enabling us to get this far.
Don’t stop riding your bikes and getting out there. The world is a worrying place right now so make sure you take some time out to enjoy your freedom whenever you can.
Don’t stop waving to other cyclists (yes, even if they aren’t wearing Stolen Goat). We need the world to see that The Herd is without question the friendliest, warmest, loveliest bunch of people on the planet.
Don’t stop being you! We are just getting started. We have some really big plans and projects in the works and we want you to be a part of our future.
Here’s to another decade of goat inspired mayhem!