Here at Valvoline, we have a deep appreciation for folks who love to get their hands dirty. When we caught wind of Brother Moto, a DIY garage, coffee shop, and motorcycle lifestyle goods brand in Atlanta, we couldn’t wait to meet the guys behind the business. Brother Moto allows people of all skill levels to have the ability to work on their own bikes with the right tools at a low monthly membership cost. A by-product of the shared space has been an amazing community of all ages and walks of life that find common ground in motorcycles. We asked co-owner Bobby Russell to share the Brother Moto story with Team Valvoline.
In 2013 my business partner Jared Erickson and I met in an apartment complex parking lot in Atlanta, GA in the borough known as Cabbagetown. We were brought together by our mutual love for motorcycles and our affinity to do things ourselves. We spent that afternoon in the humid 100-degree Atlanta heat working on our new-to-us vintage motorcycles in the lot. We got frustrated by the simplest tasks, the bikes broke down all the time. Management hated that we always had motorcycle parts strewn across multiple parking spaces. It was less than ideal. We would spend hours working on a project only to have to stop, because it was getting dark. We never had the right tools. Did I mention it was 100 degrees outside?
It wasn’t long until we realized other urban dwellers had to have a similar problem. Since we were new to motorcycling in general, we decided to use our strengths to try and test the market a bit. Jared has an amazing background in graphic design and my strong suit was in copywriting and photography, so we decided to create a “brand” to see if people latched on to the idea.
We knew we were on to something when over 400 people showed up to our first party. People from all across Georgia drove to this event to show support and encourage us to pursue our passion project.
Even with this newfound wind in our sails, we took our time to transition from our day jobs and decided to start small. In the early days I would work a shift at a tech company from 4 a.m. to 2 p.m. and then moonlight at Brother until 10 p.m.. Jared and I never slept (and still rarely do).
In the beginning our efforts were focused on building awareness around the Brother Moto brand. We continued selling tee shirts and growing a following so we could build something from the ground up. This allowed us the flexibility to pour everything back into the business and keep overhead low while we continued to build up our community and fans.
To gauge interest in the beginning we started a beta version of the DIY business in Jared’s shed. We invited our friends over to work on bikes and to spread the Brother Moto message. After a while we saved up enough for a few months rent and decided it was time to make the jump turning Brother Moto into a reality.
We knew we wanted to have an inclusive environment for people to work on bikes, but we also knew we wanted to have a coffee component for the general public to come in and ask questions about motorcycles. Since we were pretty new to motorcycling; we wanted a safe place for new and old riders to come in and find community, while also providing the necessary goods and equipment for riders to explore the world around them. Our dream was to build an inviting environment where someone could grab a cup of coffee as an excuse to be around motorcycles. That has always been our goal, to provide a welcoming environment to the “moto-curious” and get as many people riding as possible.
Flash forward to 2017, and our flagship location is a 6000 square foot DIY motorcycle garage, coffee shop, and lifestyle goods center located less than a mile from where it all began in that Cabbagetown parking lot. We are able to provide a dream shop for moto enthusiasts to work on their own bikes in our community garage. At the time of writing this we have right at 100 members to the garage and they are the real champions of Brother Moto. They have started to take on the reigns for creating rides, scheduling meet ups, and helping each other build really cool motorbikes. It is amazing to see members come in and meet new friends and help each other towards creating and discovering dreams. It’s cool to watch and we wouldn’t want it any other way.
The Brother Moto community is something special and we are so humbled by how good all of our members and the general public of Atlanta have been. We are really excited about growing the business, both in Atlanta and who knows, maybe other cities.