THOUSAND BIKE CLUB: Tell us about you!
NAOMI MAHENDRAN: Growing up in Sydney, Australia, I think I have a genetic disposition toward an intense love for the outdoors, sunshine and staying active. Moving to London 8 years ago to advance my then-career in fashion (branding and advertising), I discovered cycling. I think I fell in love with it initially because it manages to shoehorn all of the three things I love into one exercise. (Well, apart from sunshine in London!)
I currently live in Clapton, East London, and I love the local vibe of my neighbourhood. I think there are more cyclists in Hackney than any other suburb (which might actually be true according to something in a newspaper I read recently) and I’m constantly inspired by the amount of stylish cyclists I see on an everyday basis.
TBC: Tell us about The Cycling Store and how it came to be.
NM: I started riding a beautiful vintage step-through Danish bike when I moved to London, which I was so proud of. But I was so ashamed of the clothing that was available at the time for cyclists. The choice was basically between construction-esque cheap high vis, naff chintzy-printed waterproofs or hardcore road cycling kit.
This was three years ago - and after a year of planning I launched The Cycling Store as a response to the low quality goods over-saturating the market. The Cycling Store aims to fill the need for simple, functional everyday cycling wear, designed with the discerning modern city rider in mind. As a retailer, we source a highly curated collection of minimal, design-led apparel and accessories sourced from brands from around the world, including your beautiful helmets (which are one of our top sellers).
TBC: What are you trying to do within the cycling and fashion industry?
NM: Cycling has traditionally been a male-dominated industry, and with The Cycling Store (which has a female-focus, although we stock a number of unisex products) I would like to change that perspective. Many of the women I speak to on a regular basis feel reticent about cycling in London due to feeling unsure about safety or road confidence - and one of the aims of The Cycling Store is to encourage more women to ride - through feeling comfortable, and confident on their bikes.
The other aim of The Cycling Store is to combat the trend toward ‘fast fashion’. Every piece that we stock has been selected for their quality - it has be made to last years and stay looking beautiful (with care from the customer, of course) or we won’t stock it. I would rather my customers buy one thing and it lasts them years, rather than ten that last two months.
NM: In the past year our collection has been aimed toward the city commuter. This summer, however, we are launching performance wear for road cyclists. We’ve had so many customers ask why we don’t sell road kit - and since I built a steel frame road bike three years ago I have been on the lookout for comfortable, great-looking and most importantly, flattering, road cycling kit. This year I feel we’ve got a really great range. Each piece has been tested by our network of women, and we’re so confident about the way it looks both on and off the bike. Really excited to be launching these new brands in the upcoming weeks just in time for summer!
TBC: What do you believe are the greatest challenges facing women in their entrepreneurial endeavors? How do you see women overcoming these challenges?
NM: There’s so much pressure as a woman to be able to do it all. I’m still pretty young, but there’s definitely pressure that’s put on me to do the things in the roles women have ’traditionally’ been placed in by society. As someone who’s always dreamed of being a CEO over a school run mum it’s easy for me to displace the commentary. Not saying that I don’t ever want it to happen - it’s just not my top priority right now.
I think it’s really important to always focus on your own goals and dreams - and not put too much weight on the opinions of others who may see the world in a different way. As a woman, we sometimes have a tendency to think for the common good rather than our own, whereas it’s more common for men to think about themselves as single entities (aggressive, macho and competitive behaviour springs to mind here). I’m not saying that too much of either is good, but I think it’s important to stand up for your values, even if they are different from the societal norm. In achieving your dreams, it’s important to feel like you can follow your own timeline.
TBC: With so many products available, what do you look for when curating your store?
NM: Quality and design above everything else. Everything we stock needs to be made to last, and designed for style and functionality. I do all the buying for The Cycling Store and I find that minimally-designed products that have been carefully crafted with care and love, are the ones that work on the site.
TBC: Can you share some of your favorite resources; books, podcasts, or blogs that have inspired your work as an entrepreneur?
NM: As an entrepreneur my days are constantly changing, and there isn’t enough time for the tasks that need to be completed - so I’m a big fan of reducing decision fatigue wherever possible. In fact, I was vegan for a year and a half to try and accomplish this aim (it sounds counter-intuitive, but think about it. You go to a restaurant - there are only 2 things you can eat on the menu. Instant decision fatigue reduction.)
I have also turned into a rather functional book reader - everything I read seems to be either business or psychology-related. I most recently read The Art of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and immediately followed it up with The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck by Mark Manson - both books I highly recommend for anyone looking to free up some in-demand headspace to follow their entrepreneurial dreams.
TBC: What's your favorite Thousand product?
NM: I am in love with the Stay Gold helmet. I have one of my own and it's an almost daily occurrence of being stopped in the street to receive a compliment on it.