13 min read | Posted on: March 31 2022 | Last updated on: April 15 2022
Racing Towards the Future: Brikl Meets Louis Garneau
In his farmhouse located very close to Garneau's factory, Louis Garneau tends to his beehives. This picturesque piece of land situated near Quebec's St. Lawrence River in Canada is Louis' sanctuary. "Business is a hard game," he comments. "We all need a place to relax and take stock of the little moments". As he pulls honey from the hive three times a year, he can't help but be impressed at the singular focus of his bees and the scale of their achievement.
Louis has more in common with these bees than he realises.
Read Garneau's brand story below or skip to our interview with Louis.
Someone who believes that defeat forges new beginnings can never be beaten. This is Louis' attitude to life and business. He left Laval University, Quebec, Canada in 1983 with a degree in visual arts and a scholarship under his belt. And that same year, Garneau, along with his wife, Monique Arsenault, showcased their entrepreneurial spirit by setting up a mini factory in his parents' garage.
“I was supposed to be a professor and an artist, but at the end of my studies I decided to start a company with my wife Monique. We were the first company in Canada to produce cycle wear in 1983. Before that, all this stuff came from Europe - from Italy, France, et cetera”. Garneau explains.
"We told ourselves if we could sell 12 jerseys and 12 shorts a month, we would survive. Monique was a nurse, and her salary covered our overhead. Everyone was surprised we were doing this. I didn't expect to become a big businessman with 400 employees. I had no vision: I just wanted to make good cycling clothing."
In this understated space in Saint-Augustin-des-Desmaures, Quebec, and with modest ambitions, Louis Garneau Clothing was born.
A legend set in motion
Garneau's cycling career had exposed him to the elements, and although he emerged a better cyclist from the grueling athletic process, his gear did not. There was a distinct gap in the market for fitted, well-designed, and high-quality custom cycling apparel, and what was out there was unaffordable to many.
In 1984, Garneau, with his sights trained on Olympic glory, knew the importance and rarity of good kit in the cycling world.
Wool shorts and non-technical garments were a staple of the times for those who could afford them. These expensive pieces imported from Europe would cost around an eye-watering $80. This explains why Garneau himself often raced in garbage bags and dishwashing gloves for rain protection - a million miles away from the lightweight, protective and abrasion-resistant gear we know today.
Garneau created innovative designs that weren't made unobtainable by a hefty price tag, "We had no experience, no business plan, and no money. What we did have was a good product at a competitive price. I think we survived because of our passion." Garneau commented.
By the time he competed in the Men's Road Race at the 1984 L.A. Olympics, the kit he and the rest of the Canadian team wore in the L.A. Games was among his first creations, sold from $25 apiece to his teammates.
This was the value of a good idea in its purest form, and so, from their humble location, Garneau and Monique were able to expand the company from two employees to 118 employees by 1988. The company grew into a 32,000 square foot building from a garage, transcending local distribution to national distribution throughout Canada.
Garneau's passion is instilled across its company values and designed into every product. The brand is on a mission to encourage every person, regardless of gender, background, shape, or size, to seek healthy, happy lives. And to empower their vision with action, they design high-quality product lines engineered for fit, durability, performance, and comfort: every item is emblematic of Garneau's original aspirations.
This includes his custom-made approach. Garneau creates product lines that are tailored towards the granular needs of you as the cyclist, whether you're a roadie, mountain biker, spinning enthusiasts, or triathlete, with the cross-functionality you need to spur your momentum on during other activities. With its slogan, "Live Your Dream," a mantra rather than marketing, Garneau has set the pace and standard for other cycling brands to follow.
And now, thanks to its partnership with Brikl, Garneau is offering its customers a digital experience that reflects the quality and standard of its inherent values and products.
Nobody is more enthusiastic about Garneau’s future with Brikl than Louis Garneau himself: “We tried to create our own system in the past, but then we found Brikl, and it was exactly what we needed. Our goal was never to make a great system, but great product. Brikl allows us to focus on that.
“It's also so easy to use - our customers love it - and it's a next-generation system. That's the way to work. I really see Brikl being integral to our success. I’m confident we have the best technology and we are all very proud of what we’ve managed to achieve with it. Plus, we have great support from the company - I’m just very happy”.
Brikl meets Louis Garneau