Image Credit: Kate Disher-Quill
Small apartment. Big bike. It’s not a good mix. But for Adrian Sheather and wife Heleana Genaus, it was the impetus that would lead them to open Rising Sun Workshop, Sydney’s first communal workshop space for motorcyclists and eatery.
“We saw we weren’t the only ones,” says Heleana.
“A lot of people, who own motorcycles don’t have anywhere to store them, work on them, maintain them or even customise them.”
“There were guys who were building their bikes in the lounge room and in order to get back out of the lounge room, had to disassemble the whole thing, take it down three flights of stairs and reassemble it again on the footpath.”
Clearly, a solution was needed. Pulling together a team of designers, chefs and a barista extraordinaire, Heleana and Adrian began planning Rising Sun Workshop.
Named after Australia’s first drive-in garage, the concept of the workshop was to provide motor enthusiasts with the tools, expertise and space to do more than just tinker. And a café. (A good cup of coffee never does harm.)
And so in 2013, inspired by the success of Melbourne’s Kustom Kommune, the party of five launched a Pozible crowd funding campaign to open their first Newtown pop-up.
“After three months, we raised just under $40,000 and presold around 120 memberships to the workshop,” says Heleana.
But, she continues, “It took a lot of hard work this article.”
“It was like the riders that had just gone through a bad break-up,” she explains.
“They thought it had been tried but never worked before. Who are these new kids on the block? I don’t want to trust them because I’ve been burnt before and I don’t know if I can deal with that again.”
To deal with the community’s trust issues, Heleana and her team set about shaping the workshop to meet the riders needs.
“We had to answer questions, go to events, meet people, hold rides, let them know that we’ve actually got it covered.”
“We wanted to involve them honestly and consistently.”
The result has been overwhelming.
“People are really excited by having somewhere they can go and just hang out and get that exchange of knowledge from real people and not from forums or Youtube,” she says.
“We’ve had a lot of stuff donated to us like tools, manuals, wrench sets, through to vintage magazines.”
And yes, Levi’s too has been of some support, if only in keeping the crew comfortable.
“I have several pairs of Levi’s. My husband too,” she says.
“My first pair of jeans were Levi’s 501’s. I lived in them. They were amazing. I was 15 and I had really long legs and a tight waist and a round butt and they were the perfect fit…I wore them for years.”
While no longer 15, Heleana still enjoys wearing Levi’s as she and her team embrace new opportunities for the Rising Sun Workshop.
After all she says, “We also care about looking good”.