Today we’d like to introduce you to Elsbeth Cool.
Elsbeth, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Four Star Family Cyclery began after I went from a reluctant cyclist (seriously, I refused to bike for years in the city) to year-round bike commuter (with kids!). I struggled to find a community of like-minded parents, so a friend and I started Chicago Family Biking, an online group that now has over 1500 parent members/followers. After hearing the same questions over and over again from fellow parents, searching for knowledgeable local resources and a family-friendly local bike shop that welcomed giant cargo bikes, I knew I could meet those needs and fill a huge gap in the market.
The bike industry is tremendously dominated by men, and as a female entrepreneur and business owner, as well as a tiny startup with very little funding, I’ve come up against numerous obstacles. But every time I teach a woman to ride a bike that frees her from sitting in traffic, empowers her to choose a mode of transportation that embodies freedom and joy and offers tremendous benefits – financially, physically, and environmentally – I know it’s well worth it.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
No! It’s still hard every day 🙂
Being a woman in a male-dominated industry. Making cycling a mainstream, ‘normalized’ way to get around the city, rather than a fringe crazy thing. Promoting riding in a city where safe cycling infrastructure just isn’t there yet.
Financially – starting a business takes so much money. Time-intensive. Balancing starting a business with parenting & family life.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Four Star Family Cyclery story. Tell us more about the business.
We’re proud to be the friendliest, most helpful, non-judgmental bike shop in the city. No mansplaining, no spandex required. A business that exists to serve our neighbors. One of the only shops in the city trained and selling electric bikes.
We focus on bikes that can handle the daily demands of city living, carrying groceries, kids, library books, friends, pets, Craigslist finds, and your farmer’s market haul.
We rent cargo bikes – the only shop in the city to do this – so customers can try before they buy.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
None! I can’t take credit for everything that has happened with my business – there are so many people behind the scenes who have mentored, coached, shared their time and expertise, industry leaders who have believed in me when all I had was half a business plan and a crazy dream, but I don’t chalk any of it up to luck. I have a quote on my desk ‘big things happen one day at a time’.
Everything that has happened has been an alchemy of hard work, really listening to our customer base and hear how we can best serve them, generosity + trust from other companies extended to us as we were just starting out.
- Address: 2814 N Whipple St. Chicago, IL 60618
- Website: www.fourstarfamilycyclery.com
- Phone: 2243585455
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/fourstarfamilycyclery
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/fourstarfamilycyclery
Mike Williams – Liveside Media