Quoc Pham wants you to put your best foot forward every day–and make car drivers jealous in the process. He talks about the importance of craftsmanship and shares the one truth all small businesses must with.
Who are you and what do you do?
I am Quoc Pham, the founder and managing director of QUOC. My company designs and makes contemporary cycling shoes for different types of urban cyclists.
What was your spark or ah-ha moment for QUOC?
I had a feeling that there was an opportunity in the cycling market for shoes you can wear comfortably all day and at the same time work when you hop on your bicycle that uses clipless pedals. Because once you use clipless pedals, you won’t want to go back to a flat pedal.
The first urban cycling shoe I designed was the Fixed. It’s based on a timeless track-style design that really looks great off the bicycle as well. I showed it to a shop in Holborn, London, they placed an order there on the spot. Right then I knew I was on to something. That was my ah-ha moment.
What is QUOC’s mission?
To get more people in cities riding bicycles by design and making beautiful pairs of shoes for them.
I want to make the car drivers stuck in traffic envious of us cycling by looking so good. Ha ha. – Quoc Pham, QUOC
What does the name QUOC mean?
That’s easy. The brand name is my first name. There’s no real story behind it. Quoc is a common Vietnamese name, just like “William” would be in other parts of the world.
What problem does QUOC want to solve for city cyclists?
Our products use high quality materials and craftsmanship so they last a long time. This means less waste. And having more people cycling in cities will make cleaner air, reduce noise and improve our quality of life.
How do you want QUOC to stand out in the market?
We don’t intend to be different or better than anybody else. We do what we believe in–which is simple, elegant, quality craftsmanship of contemporary cycling shoes. Shoes that we would wear ourselves every day.
What was a business challenge you had to overcome? What did you learn from it?
There are so many challenges; to name them all would end up as a very thick book. I studied pure design at Central St Martins. Nothing related to business, so everything on the business side was new and I had to learn it to make this work and survive. One thing that’s true with all business is funding. There should be more education for entrepreneurs about how to manage and get creative with money. Not in a illegal way, but how to make money from zero. That sort of thing.
What do you envision QUOC’s impact to be in 5 years?
Our impact is like a small ripple in an ocean. What would be amazing is to know that customers continue to wear our shoes after five years. This would be better for our planet and a great testament to the quality of the QUOC brand.
Time to pay it forward. Who else is doing exciting things for city cycling that you have your eye on?
Anthony Lau and his team at Cyclehoop are designing different ways to protect and store bicycles inside and outdoors in cities. They’ve got a lot of really interesting ideas for urban cycling.
Tell us your favourite cycling city or city cycling experience (or craziest!)
Of course, my favourite cycling city is London. There’s nothing better than simply cruising around the city during the summer.
Finish this thought: “Cycling is…”
Cycling is good. Just plain good!
Finally, it’s time to nerd out a bit. What do you ride?
I’ve got a handful of different bicycles. There’s a fixed gear, a road bike, a downhill mountain bike and a city bike with a child seat to show my daughter her city that she’s growing up in.
QUOC has different collections of contemporary shoes for city cycling and more performance-focused cycling. All of them can be used with clipless pedals but are comfortable to walk in when you’re off the bicycle.
(Images courtesy of QUOC.)
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