Debra Zusin and Mariana Chambers were already best friends, but their love of biking turned them into business partners, as well.
A lawyer and a fashionista, Zusin and Chambers started GiveLoveCycle to get more women riding by providing a product that supports their cycling lifestyle. Last year, the duo launched their line of unique bags — stylish CarryAlls that comfortably fit, not just your day-to-day items, but your bike helmet, as well.
We’re delighted that GiveLoveCycle will be one of the exhibitors in the Pop-up Shop at the National Women’s Bicycling Forum, but I couldn’t wait until March 4 to learn more about the inspiration and entrepreneurship behind the GLC brand. Read more from Zusin below — and meet her in person next month!
I know that bike share got you riding for transportation — what about it appealed to you? What would you tell other women who are interested in incorporate more biking into their lives?
I remember receiving the red glossy Capital Bikeshare pamphlet in the mail in the summer of 2010. I loved riding my bike recreationally and on trails but never considered biking as my daily transportation. Bike share answered the question of not wanting to worry about my bike everywhere I went. The idea of a one-way ride was so appealing that I became one of the first people to sign up! I still have my original black FOB card and carry it around like a badge of honor.
Once I realized I actually can have all my stuff with me for the day on my bike (helmet, gym clothes, lunch, purse), the next step was to plan my route. I used the bike map on Google and mapmyride.com to make sure I knew where all the designated bike lanes are in DC. Since I started riding in 2010, so much has changed to improve the biking infrastructure in DC, it is remarkable. There are also a lot of women’s cycling seminars being offered in different cities so women can build the confidence they need to start riding. With the right accessory and the realization that it is the best, easiest, healthiest way to get around, there is no stopping us women on bikes!
How long have you and Marianna known each other? Is this your first business venture?
Mariana and I met our freshman year of Rutgers University and were roommates for the rest of college. Yes, this is our first business venture together.
Where did the name GiveLoveCycle come from?
GiveLoveCycle came from the idea that we both feel we get back so much from biking and that we give back to our cities and the earth by biking.
What were some of the challenges in getting this off the ground?
Funding the company presented a challenge and it’s the reason why we decided to use a crowd funding platform. Kickstarter was an amazing experience for us, both for funding and exposure. Another challenge we face is introducing a women-oriented cycling product in a predominately male industry. Daily women cyclists are a growing market and it’s our mission to open bike stores up to this idea.
Your bags are vegan! What other considerations did you take into account when you were conceiving your products?
We really wanted to present a product to the market that is both beautiful and truly functional. Our bags are easy to bike with every day, fitting your daily essentials like your helmet, iPad/E-reader or laptop, as well as being waterproof, easy to clean and hands free (the small attaches to your bike and the large converts to a backpack). We’ve added safety features, like reflective piping, and various internal compartments, like an easy find clip for your keys and a separate, aerated shoe compartment on the large. We have received a positive response from commuters to moms, who especially love the easy-to-clean, waterproof inside and out.
What’s been the most exciting part of the process in launching GiveLoveCycle?
The most exciting part of GLC is anytime we hear a woman cyclist say she’s now able to commute to work because she can easily take everything with her using her GLC bag.
Carolyn SzczepanskiCarolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.