Combining their love of cars, culture, art and basically anything else with wheels or a motor, the team at Zen Garage have truly created something unique in a once run-down warehouse in Sydney’s inner west.
At first glance, it’s hard to define what Zen Garage actually is – and that’s exactly what they are going for! Blurring the lines between online and offline, the team’s ultimate goal is to share their passions with other likeminded individuals whether it be via their website or in their 300sqm warehouse.
We hit up Justin Fox, one of the minds behind Zen Garage, to learn a little more about life behind the scenes;
Who's the team behind Zen Garage?
Currently there are 3 partners: Sergio Capozzi, Robert Green and myself. We've always got a guy running the shop, an accounts lady too but perhaps most importantly we have a tight knit group of friends who all contribute in one way or another to Zen Garage.
How did you guys get started with this idea?
Initially I was approached by Robert Green and Sean Ryan from Motoractive, an automotive advertising agency (they look after all the advertising space on all my forums). They were looking for a new office space at the time, and we shared the same dream of ending up in a business where we were truly doing what we love… the boys had a lot of faith in me, that I could convert a large empty space into something great. If it wasn't for them I think I'd still be working from home on various projects and freelance design work.
You guys have gained a massive following within a few years, what do you put that success down to?
I'm confident that I know what I like. Same with Sergio, the guy has great taste, great ideas, we're both totally obsessive compulsive types and we're so different to each other yet we're the same person at the same time. We've created a business where we can be ourselves and promote whatever it is that we're into as individuals (whatever hobbies in which we can find moments of Zen). I like to think that we're curators of great content, and in many ways we're trying to inspire others to dig what we dig too.
What is the coolest thing about Zen Garage?
Personally, it's the ability to combine all my passions into the one project. When I stopped riding bikes I felt fake for continuing to run the Bikes Move Us (http://www.bikesmoveus.com.au) forums, when I stopped doing graphic design work for money I felt guilty for not contributing as much to Australian Infront (http://www.australianinfront.com.au/). With Zen the concept is to be able to promote whatever it is that I am into right now. This way if I'm not into bikes anymore then I won't feel guilty for not promoting bike content, etc. It future proofs Zen in many ways. IE: I will always be able to promote what it is that I love through Zen.
Are the whole Zen team car nuts? What do you guys drive?
We are! Sergio's just sold his bagged Skyline. He's currently driving an E30 and has a new project on the cards. Rob's just sold his CRX and is currently taking a break with a 4WD (we all have to take breaks every now and then!). I have a supercharged R32 Golf for a daily driver, an MX-5 for track duties, and a street registered, but track spec R32 GT-R which I've owned forever and most likely will never sell.
Is doing photo shoots with attractive women all the time as awesome as it sounds?
It's awesome, but it's most likely nothing like what most people think. Whilst shooting I'm so busy trying to make the model feel comfortable, and at the same time concentrate on lighting, framing and everything else in order to get a good shot. What is awesome though is having the community dig our girls, and the girls dig our brand and appreciate the exposure they get from our little shoots, features and events.
What kind of music would we usually hear pumping out of the garage?
My background is in rock, metal and grunge but I listen to just about anything. The boys tend to prefer electronic, so the mix is pretty eclectic. We've re-created our in-store playlist on soundcloud, you can listen to it here.
Have you found any sweet perks that come with such a big online presence? Do you get freebies delivered to your door all the time in hope of a product review? Free tickets to events?
Yeah we get freebies sent to us quite a bit, and we love it! Gadgets, clothes, recently we had coffee sent to us from Italy! And yes, we also get invites to special events. A little while back the Autohaus Hamilton guys invited us out to their first GT3 Cup test day where we got to see, smell, hear and touch a whole fleet of brand new, not yet stickered up fresh off the trailer Porsche GT3 Cup cars at Sydney Motorsport Park, that's the kinda stuff that we live for.
What's next for Zen Garage? Any big plans on the horizon?
We come up with a billion ideas a minute at Zen. Yes there are massive plans; a food element, a race team, more events, a bigger premises… We have too many ideas and not enough time!
Any one that you guys would like to give a shout out to?
We've met a lot of very powerful and passionate people over the past 3 years, many who have genuinely been excited about what we're doing, and have supported us and continue to support us. Ian Baker from World Time Attack Challenge, Brad Heasman from Heasman Steering. Massive shout out to the broners, our little group of friends act as a life line for Zen Garage. Ved Kay from Selectnine especially for all the photography and video work over the past year. Sergio's brother Claudio for basically being our 4th partner. Of-course we would not be anywhere without our fans. We're just so grateful that people have accepted our brand and get what it is we're trying to do. The feedback is gold and never ceases to amaze and humble us.