It's 1000 days today since we pressed the big green button to launch VeloVixen.
The picture above shows Phil the day we moved a few files and bags of 'VeloVixen stuff' to our new premises in Neasden back in the Spring of 2012. Things have come on a bit since then.
Earlier this year, we were voted the 2015 Total Women's Cycling Awards Female Specific Retailer of the Year. That was about Day 950.
It's been a breathless ride, and it hasn't always been straightforward. Frankly, it still isn't. But would we change what we're doing for the world? Of course not. We love running VeloVixen and everything it stands for.
In no particular order, here are 17 observations and things we've learned since that exciting day when we said to our website people: 'Go on then, what the hell...'
1. Customers like being treated like human beings. They love to be shown respect. And it's actually not a hard thing to do.
2. Customers are almost invariably loyal, constructive and positive (there may be a link here to Point 1).
3. There are loads of people out there producing top quality women's cycling kit - the trick is finding it and bringing it together in an attractive way.
4. With some notable exceptions, still not many people are selling nice kit to female cyclists properly.
5. With some notable exceptions (very few) the cycling world is chock full of fantastic people pursuing their passion, honestly and bravely.
6. Events are an amazing way to meet customers and suppliers face to face, and a lot of fun. But they're exhausting. We've done dozens and now know.
7. There is rarely a link between the dimensions of a woman and how well, far or enthusiastically she can ride a bike.
8. Women are far more prone to viewing cycling as part of their life rather than segregating it into a stand alone activity.
9. Women are refreshingly more open to asking advice and admitting to being a beginner than men. Which, obviously, means they learn and progress more quickly.
10. Some women DO love pink. There's no point in banning pink outright. But anecdotally we reckon more men like to wear pink on their bikes than women. And 'shrink it and pink it' is never an excusable approach from manufacturers.
11. Whatever you do, never start a business and have children at the same time. But if you do, you will love your life more than you could ever have imagined.
12. It's all about cash flow.
13. Living frugally whilst establishing a worthwhile business isn't that hard.
14. Coffee is a life giving force.
15. It's almost impossible to eradicate cycling's seasonality. Sometimes it's cold/wet/windy and - let's face it - it's not so much fun riding a bike then.
16. Amongst the groups who have least chance to ride their bikes are: parents of young children, entrepreneurs, people in the cycling trade. We are in the middle of this Venn diagram! But we will ride more in time...
17. There are no limits to how hot or cold an uninsulated industrial office unit can get.
So here we are, straining at the leash to get cracking with our next 1000 days. If we can make as much progress in the second 1000 days as the first we'll be onto something special.
Thank you to everyone who's been part of our story up to this point - customers, colleagues, suppliers, friends, family. You know who you are. We're loving doing what we're doing and we hope you're enjoying it too.
A Few Current VeloVixen Favourites...
Unit 28, Wheatley Business Park, Old London Road, Wheatley, Oxford OX33 1XW // firstname.lastname@example.org // +44 (0) 1302 249 323