These frames were originally built by Soma a few years back as their venture into the mini velo market - they didn’t sell well (the concept has understandably struggled to take hold in the West) so they stopped making them. For some reason unknown New Albion then took over production of the frames - as far as I can tell it’s the same frame just rebranded. They have also stopped production after a relatively short period. This one I got from a bike shop in Wisconsin (on eBay) - they had a few to sell and were accepting pretty decent offers it seems so presumably they had struggled to shift them.
The main idea behind mini velos is space saving - more compact and convenient for city living - but closer to the ride and aesthetic of full size bikes. Essentially a full size frame built around 20” wheels.
My purpose is to try and reduce the bike footprint in my flat - currently my town run around / shopper lives in a cupboard - hopefully I can replace that with this and it will take up less space. Also because I have wanted to built one and see what’s it’s like for a while.