When you visit the website for 1854 Cycling, founded and owned by Brandale Randolph, you’ll be greeted by the provocative headline, “Bicycles. Bags. Abolition.” Okay—he’s got our interest.
Randolph started this premium bicycle and cycling apparel brand with a purpose to help end recidivism among the formerly incarcerated. He has worked extensively in the nonprofit sector with disadvantaged populations to end cycles poverty. If you can spare 8 minutes, his TEDx talk, “Stop Throwing Breakfast Sandwiches at the Poor,” is well worth the watch.
We think you’ll dig Brandale, his sweet bikes, and his inspirational mission – read on, or perhaps more appropriately, ride on.
What life lessons did you learn from your mother?
My mother taught me the importance of having compassion for others. She taught special education classes for years and I vividly remember how my younger brother and I would play and interact with her students. This exposure probably planted the seed of compassion for others that resides in me to this day.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A doctor. Then, I later realized that I didn’t like having other people’s blood on me.
What, or who, inspired you to become a social entrepreneur?
I read an article about a famous company in Detroit using its brand as somewhat of a marketing scheme instead of helping its local community and it angered me. My thoughts became focused on a single idea of doing what they said that they would do for my own local community.
What was the first bicycle you ever owned?
I owned a BMX, that didn’t have those cool plastic MAG wheels.
Are you still an active cyclist?
No. I chipped my front tooth and I have lost my love for spandex.
Tell us about the inspiration for your company name, 1854.
I wanted to do something that honored the city where the company was founded (Framingham, MA). Once, I found out that the first Independence Rally of the Anti-Slavery Society took place here, I felt a since of sadness as it is another piece of American history that has been hidden from us.
Your bicycles are beautiful. Who designed them?
The bicycles were designed by Master Technician Francisco Jaquez of N+1 Cyclery. He is amazing.
There are many ways to fight recidivism among the formerly incarcerated. Why bicycles?
My personal issue with many social entrepreneurial ventures is that the businesses themselves are often based in products and services that don’t have a relevant impact on society. Bicycles, however, can be a way of transforming communities as a form of transportation. I believe that the rising cost of automobiles in many places has forced many people to use alternative forms of transportation. In the future, I believe that bicycles, more specifically pedal-assisted bicycles, will become a viable alternative and I would love for 1854 to become one of the more trusted brands.
How’s the market responding to your cycling brand of social entrepreneurship?
So far, the story has captivated millions. I believe that when the facility opens and we confirm our mission, we will set a new standard for social entrepreneurship.
Proceeds from purchases of your products are contributed to programs that help end cycles of poverty among the formerly incarcerated. Can you give us an example of one and the good work it is doing?
In 2016, we sent some of our proceeds to help with the legal costs of expunging juvenile records. However, we found that the most effective use of our company would be to create skilled employment opportunities for the formerly incarcerated. We agreed and since then, we have been using our proceeds to help secure a facility with the goal of hiring and training 20 formerly incarcerated people.
Can you tell us about a specific challenge 1854 has faced as a social enterprise faced—and how you overcame it?
There is a lot of skepticism when people interact with a social enterprise because many of them use their social activism as a marketing ploy rather than a mission. We hope to overcome this by completing our fundraising and opening our facility.
What did you eat for breakfast this morning?
Grits. I am country boy.
What is your secret vice?
What are you reading right now?
Black Skin, White Masks by Frantz Fanon.
Rock, paper, or scissors?
Rock, because I would be natural and strong.
What’s one question you’d like to ask yourself – and answer?
… What is the most valuable piece of advice that you have received during the building of 1854?
…... The world is always changing so always be willing to learn something new every day.
How should people connect with you on social media?