General Store Partner Profile: Nantucket Bike Basket Company
Woven with Love: Nantucket Bike Basket Company crafts stylish, durable baskets that are perfect for any occasion, like a picnic at the beach, or as fun home décor
“A happy accident”—that’s how Kristen McCann describes the origins of her business, Nantucket Bike Basket Company. While enjoying the final weeks of a summer on Nantucket before a big move to China, McCann and her father became frustrated with constantly needing to replace their bike baskets. “Every year we’d buy new baskets. They were inexpensive but almost disposable,” she explains. “We didn’t think much of it at first, but my dad had sold baskets for home and garden use before—very different application, but he was able to use that knowledge to come up with something durable for our own use.”
At first the pair went to bike shops on Nantucket, where they traded baskets for bikes. “Finally, we had a ridiculous amount of bikes, so we decided to turn it into a business,” she says. McCann still went to China, and while she was there she worked with different vendors and weavers to come up with creative, durable designs. “I moved home with about three separate containers of baskets,” she says with a laugh.
“In the beginning, we thought this would just be Nantucket bike shops using the baskets, but we slowly realized that there was a need for it everywhere. And originally they were meant to be baskets for your bike—hence our super specific company name,” jokes McCann. That didn’t happen either. People use the baskets for everything, from decorations and plant holders to attractive storage bins for things like office supplies, towels or mail. “There are all these different, fun ways to use them,” says McCann, who explains that her dad likes to jump on the baskets and throw them around just to show people how sturdy they are.
The company has clearly become a passion for McCann, whose favorites are baskets in honey brown and natural gray. “Honey brown naturally grows that color, and the natural gray comes from soaking the fiber in a special clay for up to a week,” she explains. As McCann’s needs have evolved, so too have the products. When the company started, she thought about carrying around small items like car keys and water bottles. Then, when she and her husband moved to Ohio, they designed panniers to carry groceries on a bike. For her two-year-old twins, McCann created lightweight wire baskets. “It’s all about making baskets that are functional but not complicated,” she says. Soon, Nantucket Bike Basket will even offer a line of baskets for dog beds in all different sizes.
Creating Nantucket Bike Basket was never intentional, and that’s the beauty of it—it’s a company fully tapped into the needs of the average person. McCann mentions hearing about entrepreneurs with big, money-making ideas. “It wasn’t like that for us. It was always something my dad and I were working on in the background, and then a few months later I found myself with all these baskets,” she says, laughing. “I feel so fortunate to be in an industry that is all about sustainability, being outside and healthy living, and I love making connections with people that tell me the baskets remind them of their childhood and that use them in all different ways.”