Not many people go from being a slightly critical customer to the person eventually running it, but that's what happened to Peter Bragg, the sales and marketing director of Shutt Velo Rapide.
In 2009, Bragg, went online to purchase some items from Shutt Velo Rapide, which makes tailored performance cycle clothing for men and women. "I was one of those awkward customers," he said. "At the time they had a website. I bought some stuff and thought ‘this is better than it's being made out to be.'
"I kept nagging them saying ‘you've got a great product but your website's not great.' They got the point and said ‘OK, put your money where your mouth is and come and join us.'"
After a short spell working with the team in Ilkley, Yorkshire, Bragg returned to his job at a data company in Cambridge before deciding to join Shutt permanently.
Shortly after, the original founders decided to take a step back and Bragg took over the day-to-day running of the company. In 2011 he moved the office nearer to Brackley, Northamptonshire, closer to his home.
Shutt prides itself on being manufactured in the UK. While some of the company's clothes are outsourced to the Far East, its core product ‘heritage' range of jackets, caps and jerseys are made in Leicester.
"The thing that attracted me initially to Shutt - and is still the core essence - is the Britishness. There aren't many other companies that are manufacturing performance cycle wear in the UK," Bragg said.
As well as being handmade in the UK, Bragg wanted the clothes to have a distinct style. "We wanted to have a degree of craftsmanship within our clothing, almost like you buy a tailored suit," he said. "You want to wear something and feel proud wearing it."
Most of the Shutt clothes come in black, white and red and have the Shutt logo on them. The women's line also looks almost identical. "It was key to get an identity," Bragg said. "People recognise the logo but now they recognise the signature colours."
His and hers Shutt jerseys
Inevitably, comparisons have been made between Shutt and other clothing companies such as Rapha and Velobicci - but Bragg is adamant Shutt offers something different. "There's that feeling that you're part of the family," Bragg said. "We are authentic."
As well as clothing, Shutt runs its own cycling club and sponsors two teams, women's team Squadra Donne and men's team Twenty3c-Orbea. Despite starting his career at multi-national corporation IBM, Bragg feels at home in the small business environment.
Alongside Bragg in the office is Lauren Peppiatt, the brand manager, and both cycle in as much as possible. "I've had a bike as long as I can remember," Bragg said. "I got my first proper bike age nine or 10, it was a Raleigh Hustler in a horrible diarrhoea green. I've pretty much ridden since 11 and never given it up."
Recently Bragg returned from a cycling holiday in France. Unsurprisingly, he did it decked head to toe in Shutt clothes. "I just love putting on one of our jerseys," he said.
This article was first published in the August 22 issue of Cycling Weekly. Read Cycling Weekly magazine on the day of release where ever you are in the world International digital edition, UK digital edition. And if you like us, rate us!
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