This year I Heart Bikes celebrated 8 years in business. To celebrate I decided to capture the story of the company through the eyes of its creator – Sarah Craig. Sarah is an extremely passionate and dedicated woman, which is obvious even when you first meet her. I sat down with Sarah earlier last week to ask her some questions. Here is what I learned.
Q: Why did you start I Heart Bikes?
A: I started I Heart Bikes for a few reasons. One, I wanted to be my own boss, but two, I really felt Halifax was, and still is, a great city to bike in. At the time we had no bike rental shops and I saw an opportunity to do something positive for the city. I thought it was a good opportunity to learn about starting, establishing and growing a business. Somehow all those things combined to created I Heart Bikes, and now it’s 8 years later.
Q: What is your favourite emoji?
A: The facepalm.
Q: Do you have any role models?
A: I don’t have a specific role model, but there have been many, many special people who have influenced me over the years and encouraged me to keep going. Specifically, my family and close friends. Running a business can be super challenging and you really need a few ride or die relationships that you can lean on when you need support and be real with.
Q: What do you do in the winter?
A: My winters have been super critical in allowing me to step away from the day-to-day operations of running I Heart Bikes and work “on” the business instead of in it. People always like to offer me up suggestions on how I can make more money in the winter, but to be honest I really appreciate that time to disconnect, take a break, and dream up what I can do better the next year.
This year I was home in Halifax working to grow the business but the last five years, I spent the majority of my winter on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. My summers are super busy so it makes for a nice balance. During the season, my efforts are focused on making sure my staff are supported and the bikes are ready to go. Being able to go to Mexico allows me time to do other things, like learning Spanish, going surfing, and riding along the malecon (boardwalk) on my bike.
Q: What is your top tip to someone starting their own business?
A: I try to always focus on the future. One of the things I have found most helpful in doing that, is having a spot where I can dump all my mental notes where I know they will be saved so I can come back to them later. I literally have a Whatsapp chat to myself where I leave voice notes, photos, and random notes. Normally, once a month, I try to come back to that when I’m setting my priorities. No matter what you do, you always have the choice to focus on the negative or the positive. It can take a long time to build a business so you really have to decide if it’s something you want or not.
Q: What do you think the you of 8 years ago would think of you today?
A: I’m not sure. But the first thing that comes to mind is, what an adventure.
Q: Do you have any ideas of what’s next for I Heart Bikes?
A: I have lots of plans and ideas. But I can’t say at the moment what exactly those plans are. This year we doubled our fleet and have some great new itineraries for visitors or locals looking for things to do in and around Halifax. We also have a new ebike tour, the Best of Halifax, that takes guests through Halifax’s gorgeous parks and green spaces. The ebikes are super responsive and give users a whole new experience. That’s about all I can say for now!
Q: What is your favourite thing to do by bike in Halifax?
A: Honestly, my favourite thing to do is just bike around Halifax without an agenda or schedule and an empty “to do list”. Stopping in to one of my favourite shops, going for ice cream, or taking a picnic blanket to Point Pleasant Park on a sunny day, for me, is a little piece of paradise. Lately I have been doing some longer distance rides — and adjusting to using SPD shoes.
This article was written by Madeleine Stinson, a Business Management & Sustainability student at Dalhousie University working this season to manage I Heart Bikes’ social media. Last updated June 2019.