Niagara Gazette — Bicycle riders across Western New York may soon have a new way to ride in style with a set of custom made quality leather handlebar covers.
Ryan J. Mulrenin, of Lewiston, is launching a business aimed at creating a stylish and unique addition to make their bikes more their own.
“I’ve always been making crafts around my house, just to make my every day stuff look better,” he said. “I used to take old t-shirts and sew them on to other things. I make leather bracelets and straps and I’ve always wanted to start my own business.”
Hailing from Lockport, Mulrenin says that crafting is something that runs in his family. His mother and grandmother were both seamstresses and he credits them with sparking his interest in sewing and embroidery.
His father was also into making crafts and leather goods, Mulrenin says he picked up interest there too. He enjoys making quality crafts because he embraces all the little imperfections and knowing that it was made by a person.
“In communities where people love art, they tend to want handmade quality goods,” he said. “Something different that also has functionality is pretty hard to find.”
After earning his Associates from Bryant and Stratton in 2011, Mulrenin focused his attention on building a career in graphic design. He’s worked in several print shops and done side projects like creating logos menus and signs for an Italian bistro.
During this time he tried his hand at embroidering a wallet which turned out well. After seeing other companies that made custom leather goods he got the idea to start making his own leather goods and launch his business Bronislaus Handlebars.
“In bicycle communities, people like to put their heart and soul into their bikes,” Mulrenin said. “When it comes to those people everybody is looking for another way to show themselves in the bicycles they ride everyday.
“You could change its color or add accessories, but handlebars were always a single color, I’d be able to make handlebars with any design to fit their liking.”
To complete the artistic value of the project, Mulrenin has been working with George White, a local artist who will be making unique custom boxes which the handlebars will be sold in.
“It’s a like a packaging for the handlebars made of scrap wood from where I work,” said White. “I turn it into all sorts of boxes, mostly they’re made from oak, cherry, pine and some ash. I like to make them vintage looking and old-school. They’ll be 20x7x7 inches made with a hinge to have a nice rustic feel.
“Ryan works with leather and the two are natural earth bound materials so they should match up nicely. I hope this project will inspire people to be creative themselves and start these types of little businesses.”
To get Bronislaus off the ground, Mulrenin has submitted his project to Kickstarter, a website that encourages the people to pledge money to help fund projects in exchange for rewards if the project’s creator reaches a financial goal.
“My goal is $12,000,” he said. “After crunching numbers that’s about how much I would need to comfortably supply myself with leather and other materials and buy an embroidery machine. That’s how much it would take to get everything up and running.”
He has approached several local bike shops such as Rick Cycle Shop in Buffalo’s Allentown and Northstar Bikes in Amherst who have agreed to carry his handlebars and plans to continue to continue looking for other outlets.
Bronislaus Handlebars supplies two different types of handlebars, pre-made designs, and original custom-made handlebars that meet requirements and designs specified by the customer.
If the Bronislaus Kickstarter website is successful, Mulrenin plans to expand his business to include the production of several different types of leather goods such as portage straps, leather pouches and bar cushions. His aim is to produce a line of custom bicycle accessories characterized by youthful designs, style and functionality.
“He’s got the passion behind him, it’s awesome to see,” White said. “I’m glad he told me about it and I’m glad to be a part of it.”
“I want to own my own shop,” Mulrenin said. “In Buffalo or a place with a strong art community. I want to make my product a household bike name.”
For more information on Bronislaus Handlebar search their name on Kickstarter, or go to www.ryanmulrenin.wix.com/bronislaus