Society has deemed many pairs dynamic: Peanut butter and jelly, popcorn and movies, pumpkins and fall, football and chicken wings… The list is seemingly never-ending. But a new pair is seeping into the limelight: coffee and bikes. And it’s gaining popularity in cities worldwide, including Tempe.
Kingdom Life and Bike Co. opened its first physical location at the beginning of this year in the form of a coffee shop. The store combines the crafted cycling efforts of Kingdom with their community engagement philosophy in the sociable atmosphere of their space adjacent to ASU’s Tempe campus.
The shop touts a modern and spacious feel. ASU students can stop by between classes to study and socialize, or design a bike that fits their style. Ultimately, it has become a creative and welcoming sanctuary for customers.
Since its inception in 2015, Kingdom has evolved from a whimsical online apparel company to a public-engaging cycling community under the dedication of founder Andre Abreu.
“I’ve been a cyclist for seven, eight years and I usually don’t like the bikes. They’re pretty ugly… There’s no reason for that,” Abreu says.
The design process began there. It resulted in a customizable, affordable one-speed bike that boasts a sleek aesthetic and smooth riding experience.
“And from there, we had the product. How could we use that to affect the community?” Abreu says. “The answer to that was the store – the physical space.”
The colorful bikes embellish every corner of the shop. They hang from the ceiling and walls so customers have inspiration for their own cyclist creations.
But for Abreu, it has always been about more than just the product, which is why the coffee bar located in the center of the shop also plays a central role for Kingdom.
“We know that we have affected some people that came in here kind of hopeless, being like, ‘I just need to talk to someone,’” Abreu says. “So that’s what has motivated us and definitely kept us excited every day to come in and open early and be like, ‘All right, who are we going to talk to today?’”
The crowd inside the shop doesn’t have to be vast for Kingdom’s small eight-person team to feel successful. With only one paid staff member and the rest volunteers, Abreu was intent on creating a passionate team of people who were invested in Kingdom.
Their goal is focused on engagement with a community that aligns with their company’s ideals.
“We want to do it organically and have followers that are actually people that care about us. That’s why our following is still not the biggest, but it’s a very engaged group of people that actually care about the company,” Abreu says.
The technique is working well so far, as Kingdom is taking its first steps into international business. There is a website in Dubai that sells Kingdom bikes, and the company is working to start chapters worldwide.
“What it is, is someone in like, Spain, that is interested in being a part of Kingdom, they’ll buy a chapter, which means they get a certain number of bikes. They get all this stuff that gets them ready to start up their little Kingdom community wherever they are,” Abreu says.
His desire to expand internationally makes sense, since he is originally from Portugal and has traveled his entire life. That includes his most recent move from Dubai to the United States to attend ASU and, currently, GCU.
His travels are not going to be over anytime soon. Abreu is in the midst of putting together a team of devoted cyclists to compete internationally.
“It’s a tough process because we want really strong riders, but we want people that align with the brand and that are local. One of the riders is a girl that’s here all the time, Christina. She’s a student at ASU. She’s a freshman. A really strong rider,” Abreu says.
Christina Hashimoto began her cycling career four years ago while competing in triathlons. After her move from California to Tempe for school, she unintentionally discovered the Kingdom family on her search for a bike to ride around campus.
She now spends five hours each day after class in the Kingdom shop, on top of the 200 miles a week she rides to train for Abreu’s cycling team.
“It’s been really nice finding them here. It’s like having a little community and family away from home,” Hashimoto says. “Everyone is super supportive of everything.”
That support extends beyond cycling and the physical shop. Kingdom also hosts a variety of social events throughout the month that cement the company solidly into Tempe.
“It’s like a little community. Like a kingdom or town in the middle of the campus area,” Hashimoto says.
Abreu adds, “We see a connection there. The more we grow, the more Kingdom makes sense. And it’s almost like it’s gotten its own meaning now. Because it’s not the kingdom, it’s just kingdom. It’s just us.”
Kingdom Life & Bike, 1015 S. Rural Road, #106, Tempe, 480.765.2103, madebykingdom.com.