My grandfather was a gentleman, an explorer, and a mechanic. He traveled the world as a merchant marine during World War I, helped build Timberline Lodge for the WPA during the Great Depression, and worked as a diesel mechanic building minesweepers during World War II. He had a workshop behind his house where he tinkered until the day he died, just two weeks before I was born.
I got to know my grandfather when I was seven while staying at my grandmother’s house that summer. His workshop had been boarded up after he died, but I remember the first time I found my way in through an open window in the back. From floor to ceiling, the shop was packed with hand-built tools and half- finished solutions to problems that were faced on the ships he worked on.
I spent hours sorting through the projects and inventions he had left stacked on his benches. I tried to understand him via the problems he solved. He built most of his own tools. I deconstructed his solutions and discovered him for the maverick he was. He lived by his own rules; governed by skill and guided by his own instincts.
My Grandfather grew up with his cousin Rear Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd. Byrd was a famous naval explorer in the 1920’s and 1930’s and was the first man to fly across both the north and south poles. My parents gave me the middle name Byrd to pass on the family name and it ended up fueling my early desires for exploration as I researched and learned more about my long lost relative and namesake.
Like my grandfather, I grew up with a great curiosity and a passion to explore other cultures. I built a school in a garbage dump outside of Mexico City, studied the Guernica in Madrid, survived Saharan sand storms outside of Marrakech, climbed to 19,000 feet on Mount Everest, raced vespas on the volcanic islands of Lipari, worked in factories outside of Saigon, escaped a coup in Thailand, studied structural firefighting in Vail and was a member of the Colorado Search and Rescue team.
I taught Outward Bound out of long boats in the Puget Sound, rock climbed in Arapiles, and picked grapes in the Mildura Valley, Australia. I studied Industrial Design in Bellingham, and eventually ended up as the Design Director at The North Face in San Francisco. At The North Face, USA, I designed and developed their technical alpine, lifestyle and adventure travel categories. I eventually went on to become the Global Product Director based in Montebelluna, Italy where I became immersed in the “stile di vita italiano” and was addicted to the culture of speed: Ferrari, Ducati, MV Agusta, Moto Guzzi, Laverda, Campagnolo, Pinarello, Lamborghini, and Alfa Romeo.
I later founded Syren Industrial Design & Mfg. Co. (www.syrenid.com), a full-service product and branding house that specializes in technical soft-goods for the outdoor, tactical, deep water, and fire/rescue markets. We have built several award-winning programs for iconic brands around the world.
Through our projects at Syren, we have been fortunate to work with the greatest suppliers and manufacturers on earth. People who work tirelessly to perfect their craft. We work only with certified factories that undergo rigorous inspections to ensure that they meet strict social and environmental standards set by the international community. We’ve built strong relationships with these craftsmen, over time, and continue to build Velomacchi product with them today.
With Velomacchi I wanted to build a business that respected the earth and all the people who help bring this product to market. We seek out the best craftsman, the best materials, the best factories and processes from around the world. We seek to bring unique solutions to problems faced by people everyday. Our prices reflect this commitment to quality and our commitment to building a carbon neutral footprint.
My travels have taught me the humility of the road. By traveling to distant lands, and allowing yourself to be vulnerable, you experience the grace, nobility and generosity of other cultures. Like family, we have more in common than what makes us different.