Wizards at Work: A Visit to Wizard Works in London
Join Mattie on a visit to Wizard Works where Harry and Vee create vibrant bikepacking bags with community spirit. From a humble Peckham space to their thriving Greenwich studio see how Wizard Works plays a key role in the revival of the UK's independent textile industry.
It’s indicative of the community minded nature of Wizard Works that I first met Harry and Vee at a coffee outside event that the brand regularly hosts. Rolling up to the coffee spot on my bicycle, I was instantly put at ease by a group of friendly smiles, an array of beautiful bikes and a jar full of freshly brewed coffee. It’s welcoming and thoughtful community events like this coffee outside, that sets aside small makers like Wizard Works from the larger, faceless, companies in the cycling industry. An immediate feeling of goodwill and good vibes that helps you understand how small brands are able to thrive.
Coffee done, Harry and Vee lead the way back to their studio space, some 10 km by bicycle (of course) along the river from the coffee spot. We’re joined for the ride by Sam Rice who can’t resist tagging along for a glimpse behind the curtain at Wizard Works HQ. It’s not just the caffeine boost of a couple of coffees zinging through our bodies that has us chatting happily the whole ride back, these guys are just genuinely good people.
We arrive at the Wizard Works Studio and it blows me away. The studio is part of London’s new Design District on the Greenwich Peninsula, a purpose built community created specifically for creative folk and creative industry. Wizard Works' large, open, bright workshop is a far cry from the brand’s humble beginnings, as I find out when I sit down for a chat with Harry and Vee.
The Wizard’s Tale
Like all good startups, Wizard Works began life in Harry’s parents’ spare room. This was 2019 and with a website launched, the brand was out there in the world. Wizard Works was there, not to disrupt the industry, but to offer a more playful alternative to what was available in the UK. This playfulness was represented by a greater vibrancy of colour, but also by a more playful attitude. An attitude that still runs strong four years later. Wizard Works recognised that for many people cycling isn’t a sport, it’s a lifestyle and something people do just to have fun!
Fast forward one year and the turbulent global impact of the Covid pandemic sees Harry and Vee moving into their first workshop space in Peckham. During 2020 business was booming. In addition to the globally increased interest in cycling, the team recognise that a healthy Instagram account also played a part, with plenty of traffic and activity pushing Wizard Works in front of the right audience. Third up, the brand was featured on both The Radavist and Bikepacking.com which completed the trifecta of growth. Positive reviews of the Alakazam Basket Bag on both sites, have been followed by regular acclaim and Wizard Works has been showcased on these sites many times since.
It wasn’t long before Wizard Works had to relocate to a larger space within the Peckham studio as their team had grown to four in order to meet demand. At that point they quite simply didn’t have the space to grow any bigger.
A Wizard’s Workshop
In March 2022, having well and truly outgrown their space in Peckham, Harry and Vee found the opportunity to relocate to their current workshop in North Greenwich. With a larger space available, this meant they could transition from “bag makers, to manufacturers.” Interestingly, the growth of Wizard Works has seen Harry and Vee transitioning from making and sewing every day, to spending more time focusing on the business side of the company.
Wizard Works now has three full time machinists, in addition to Harry and Vee, and they have invested in plenty of new machinery. This helps increase the efficiency of processes and saves time, particularly during batch production. It might all be sounding very businessy, but the team certainly maintain their playful ethos with each sewing machine given its own name and personality. As Harry says, by growing, they aim to “keep the soul but increase the scale.”
As we continued to chat, Vee explained that Britain used to be considered the textile making centre of the world, an accolade that hasn’t stood the test of time as manufacturing has increasingly moved overseas. Wizard Works proudly make everything in house and part of their new studio’s appeal is its ground floor location and huge windows. Sure they get interrupted by passers by occasionally (read frequently!) but the studio also serves to inspire and showcase the manufacturing processes, aiming to spark curiosity and connection.
Both Vee and Harry are excited to explore how manufacturing can look like in the UK moving forward. “Manufacturing in London is dying out and it’s fulfilling to provide a place for manufacturing.” To put it simply, “making stuff is really cool” and Wizard Works love to make things.
A Team of Wizards
With the growth of Wizard Works, Veronica has found that she particularly enjoys being an employer, especially in a so-called 'dying industry' like textile manufacturing in Britain. Wizard Works ensure that their employees are valued, which means paying them fairly and treating them well and this is evident in everything they do.
With talented staff looking after much of the manufacturing and shipping, Harry and Vee are spending increasing amount of time on building the community, developing products and working on strategy. It was great to get a first hand look at this and see the effects of this aspect of the business. The coffee outside that had started our day is just one example of the benefit of Harry and Vee stepping away from the machines to focus attention elsewhere.
We also chatted about their recently released Hobgob hip pack and the years of development, prototyping, testing and thought behind the product. Something that is so much harder to do when you’re spending all of your time hands-on at the sewing machines.
A huge thanks to Harry and Vee for taking the time to chat with me and share their journey from spare room makers to business owners and employers. You can connect with Wizard Works online, through their instagram or if you’re in London by popping along to a coffee outside.