Small Business Spotlight of the Week: Bicyclette Amanda | September 26th, 2012
It’s time to admit something embarrassing: I never learned how to ride a bike. There was a string of events that lead to this, but it’s mostly a result of crashing into the corner of my house, an aversion to physical pain, and a stubborn “streak” approximately a mile wide. Some additional fun trivia: our customer service extraordinaire, Guiseppe, also doesn’t know how to ride a bike. You can ask him about it next you find yourself on a Skype call with him.
Learning to ride a bike as an adult has proven to be extremely difficult. As I struggle to find my balance and overcome this deep shame, I watch everyone zip around effortlessly with perfect helmets, slick bikes, and accessories like this. Someday, my friends, someday.
But until that day, I can browse sites like this week’s Small Business Spotlight. Bicyclette is an apparel, accessory, and home decor shop for the discerning woman who loves to bike. The shop will be carefully curated, with women who are environmentally friendly and fashion savvy in mind. Stay tuned for their online shop (which you can find at bicyclette.com) which should be launching in the next couple of weeks.
Meanwhile, founder and owner Rebecca shares her thoughts below about the boutique and bicycle business:
How would you explain what you do to somebody’s grandmother?
Remember how much fun you had riding your bike as a kid and how much fun Mom and Dad had on their bikes when they were kids? At Bicyclette, we capture that joy for discerning and stylish women in our limited collection line of apparel, accessories, and home/decor. Our goal is to curate products from talented artists across North America and inspire our Customers to get out and ride, if only for 15 minutes a day. Our philosophy is that riding a bike is good for your heart, your soul, friends and family, and of course, the earth. We believe that women can bring this philosophy to life and into their homes and wardrobes with our product lines.
What are some industry specific challenges you faced?
While I worked over a decade in the SAAS environment, getting a handle on working with actual products offline, as well as how to best work with suppliers, were my biggest challenges. Overall the retail industry has been challenged over the past several years – big box retailing is in flux, Amazon and Zappos have created an environment of free shipping, lax return policies – and that’s just challenging for a small start-up like myself, as I’d love to offer free shipping, etc – but then I wouldn’t be in business very long! Despite the industry challenges, I believe I’ve chosen a great target market – where women are willing to invest in themselves in order to stay healthy, connected to their community, do good for the earth, and of course, for their soul!
What was your biggest learning curve/experience?
It’s true – building a business is like building a home – many projects will be twice as expensive as you originally thought, and take twice the time to come to fruition. The sooner one accepts these realities, the faster you can move forward with realizing your dream of launching a business.
As a small business owner – the devil is the details and yet, we need to get products launched and sales made. So balancing the hundreds of touch points – with getting to market in a timely fashion – has been a big learning experience. All of that being said – it’s really very cool to be challenged everyday and in a constant state of learning. I thrive in that environment.
What made you use crowdSPRING?
Having been in the online employment space for years, it just made sense to advertise my creative project for Bicyclette this way. Going the agency route would have been too expensive for a small start-up like myself. The main bonus was to get a global perspective on my brand – to see how many different ways one could interpret a lifestyle brand inspired by the bicycle for women! With hundreds of responses, the voting system was much appreciated and we use this collaboration tool for each project. For new creative, I will turn to crowdSPRING first every time – I know I will get results, and within my planned budget.
What’s the craziest story you have from starting your own business?
Perhaps that I’m starting my own business in the first place? Who decides in this economy that retail is a great idea? I believe though that I’ve applied my years of marketing to launch Bicyclette in a strong position in the marketplace. With our brand building expertise and our commitment to delivering an excellent customer experience, we believe we have an advantage, even in this type of economy.
We also believe that the emerging forces of women needing to take a more active approach to their well being – both physically and mentally – soaring gas prices and the desire to connect with people offline in the real world, all bode well for the launch of our lifestyle brand.
If you could go back, would you do anything differently? If so, what and why?
With my technology background, we learned quickly to change on a dime (yes, there really was a time without iPhones, Facebook, Twitter, wireless!). Which I think helps us to adapt more quickly and be flexible with our planning. We create goals, plans, etc – but pick ourselves back up if we don’t hit them and put new and improved plans/processes/attitudes in place! So at this point, there isn’t much we’d do differently – ask me in 6 months! I do know that we need to be better at leveraging our relationships to grow the business – so we will continue to work on that moving forward.
How do you see your company growing in the future?
We’d like our company to be an inspiration to women to get on their bicycles with their friends and family and enjoy a healthy lifestyle – to do this, we need to grow across the United States and deep within key markets. We need to grow at a healthy pace so that our quality never suffers and we want our brand to be the place talented artisans turn to collaborate on collections.
Six words of advice to those looking to start their own company.
Target and Position (two words go hand in hand, sorry!)