Feb 6 • 5M

Make it yours

Plan your next #94

Nate Kadlac
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I'm Nate Kadlac, designer of Plan Your Next. A weekly newsletter that connects design, creativity, and how you prepare for your next thing.
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👋 Good morning from Los Angeles! I'm Nate Kadlac, and this is #94 of Plan Your Next. A Sunday newsletter that connects design, creativity, and how you prepare for your next thing.

Welcome to all 160+ people who joined this past week. And a special shoutout to Abhishek Shah who shared Plan Your Next in this fantastic thread. I’m feeling incredibly grateful. ❤️


💡 What’s new?

🎨 My next live creative workshop, Approachable Design, will be held on March 19-20. Hop on the waitlist to learn more and get updates as we get closer.

⌚️ The Wearable Challenge I’ve been a part of is going extremely well. My biggest takeaway so far: Taking a 10-15 minute walk after meals blunts most blood sugar spikes. I’m down about 10 pounds, doing 20-25 min HIIT workouts most days, and my sugar cravings have been almost non-existent.

(Truth time: I have an alter ego nicknamed by my wife and friends. His name’s Dane. Dane eats or drinks everything in sight when he’s hungover or DGAF. He also loves sugar and has no problem mouth prancing all over a plastic sleeve of Oreo’s if given the chance. His motto: A cookie not eaten is a cookie wasted. This entire challenge has been to keep Dane locked up. I’ll keep you posted if we’re successful.)

11 years ago, I bought an old 86’ Schwinn bike from my friend, Eric. Around this time, I had just sold my condo and most of my posessions. I was looking to detach myself from the idea of homeownership, and all the stuff I felt was weighing me down. Like the vintage lime green vinyl sectional that was missing an arm.

After selling that sofa and most everything else, I was left with my laptop, Eric’s old Schwinn bike, and my clothes. Then I asked Eric if I could rent a spare bedroom in his small craftsman home. 

Imagine Thoreau leaving behind his material possessions, but instead of moving next to a pond by himself, he moved into a friend's house. That friend was Eric. 

I paid Eric $550 a month to live in his upstairs bedroom for a couple of years. This was down from the $2,250 I was spending on my mortgage, which forced me to learn about investing and other ways to put my money to work. 

During that time, Eric and I became close and I found myself fully immersed in his own passion, building and restoring bikes.

His basement looked like your local bike shop. Any tool you needed was readily available, even a wheel truing stand for building out custom wheelsets. If you ever had a bike question, Eric was your man.

It reminded me of my dad’s basement studio when I was growing up. He was a graphic designer and he had professional tools like graphic design markers, a projection machine that would allow you to reflect images perfectly, and every kind of paint you could ever need as a 12-year-old.

Eric had put in his 10,000 hours of riding, building, and perfecting the customization of his bikes. 

This was a new world to me, but I became fascinated with how much thought, patience, and personalization you could apply to a vintage bike, versus buying one off the shelf.

Personalizing a bike has an infinite number of choices to make, and defies some of the myths you might have in your head, like having fat tires doesn’t actually slow a bike down but instead makes it more comfortable to ride. 80’s Japanese steel was built to last forever, and the randonneuring community is just as passionate as the Jeep community. Because of that, there are many aftermarket parts available, so you could build and personalize almost anything your heart desires. Craigslist was your bike parts shop. 

My newly vintage Schwinn bike was one of the few possessions I kept after selling my home, and I wanted to make it mine. Not only did I want to personalize it, I had a goal of taking a long bike trip over the course of a couple of weeks.

My bike was an ’86 Schwinn Voyageur, originally used as a touring bike. This meant it had a lot of braze-ons to hold equipment like racks and cables, without having to use extra zip ties or clunky accessories that added more unnecessary weight to the frame. 

What started out as a dark-green road bike with clunky components, turned into a custom powder coated sleek ride with new lights, re-wired braking, design touches like Italian leather gripping, Brooke’s leather seating, and new fenders locked into place by a wine cork. 

Building up my 1986 Schwinn Voyageur
Building up my first bike

These changes don’t mean much on their own, but each decision I made connected me to the bike. Conversely, it makes it more difficult to try and sell it later, but it’s what creates a bond I wouldn’t want to make if given the choice. 

Personalizing objects around you is one way to fend off the desire to buy more. I’m inspired by the Neistat brothers—Casey and Van—who were inspired by the talented artist, Tom Sachs. Their approach is to customize everything, which plays into their aesthetic, but also the longevity of the object’s shelf life. Look at Casey’s studio and all of the old gear most people would throw in the trash.

What I love about this video is there is no real monologue about why he personalizes his electric bike. His approach to making the bike his own is so commonplace, that he just wants to be able to charge it more conveniently. So instead of making an elaborate plan, you see in real-time how he thinks about modifying the bike to his own needs. 

There’s so much shit in this world, the shelf life of most consumables is incredibly short. To me, there are a couple of ways to reduce the number of things you buy. Either invest in high-quality items that have a longer shelf life, or connect with the items you have through personalization. By personalizing, you make it yours. And when it’s yours, you’ll want to use it forever.

That is until someone steals your ’86 Schwinn and now you have to start all over with a newer, older, ’83 Schwinn Voyageur. 

Time to make this mine.

Starting to personalize my new bike
Starting to personalize my new bike

⚡️ Two creative hits for next week

Deep focus rooms
I doubt I’ll ever need these unless I owned a tiny home, but they’re so well designed. We live in a rental house right now, but even then, I’m looking for quiet spaces to record the newsletter, or take calls. (via Mike B.)

🐦 A guide to Twitter
If you’re at all like me, you might find it difficult to use Twitter in a healthy way. You understand the power of a network, but haven’t spent the time personalizing it for yourself. I found this article nuanced and helpful in approaching Twitter the right way.


👋 See you next Sunday

If you’ve forgotten who I am, here’s a little bit about me. As always, my calendar is open to chat about your next adventure, crazy idea, or if you’re feeling creatively stuck.

Have a great week,

Nate

p.s. If you enjoyed this letter, would you please let me know by tapping on the heart below?