When a child finds their balance, a whole new world of possibilities opens up before them. What starts out as a wobbly one-metre walk transforms into a turbulent run between passageways before eventually they’re pedalling a bicycle on their own, unsupported and beaming with pride.
Propelled by the physical, emotional and educational benefits bikes have not only for adults but toddlers too, business partners and parents Chris and Sarah Mollison founded CYCLEme TOTS. Through their fun and interactive educational programmes, CYCLEme TOTS gives toddlers a safe space to learn key motor, development and life skills.
The family-run business has become a leading bike activity franchise for early learners in the UK with educational classes for tots as young as two. The company is also proud partners with Strider – a top balance bike brand in the UK– guaranteeing a safe and comfortable ride for their students.
We recently caught up with Sarah to find out how they melded their passion for cycling and education into an award-winning business.
1. Tell us about CYCLEme TOTS and the benefits it has for early learners
CYCLEme TOTS is a children’s activity provider specialising in early years cycling for children aged 2-7 years. It is our mission to make cycling accessible to everyone and give every child a positive introduction to cycling through our imaginary play activity classes, schools/nursery programmes and race track events.
2. What propelled you to start your own cycling business?
Our business venture initially started with adult cycling fitness classes (CYCLEme Fitness), and through our retail side of that business, we were introduced to the concept of balance bikes which are children’s bikes with no pedals where little ones use their feet to build speed and learn the fundamentals of balance.
We saw an opportunity to bring some children’s classes to the market using these bikes and launched our first toddler classes in September 2017 which were extremely popular with local parents. As the momentum grew, we launched new classes, developed a ‘Learn to Pedal’ programme, recruited new coaches and then followed with the launch of our Franchise Opportunity allowing the CYCLEme TOTS programme to be expanded across the UK.
3. Where did the idea to merge cycling and early learning programmes come from?
My husband and I made a choice to leave our global sales roles when we started our own family. We wanted to create a rewarding business that would work flexibly around our young family and childcare commitments.
We both have a background in fitness, sports coaching and cycling, and enjoyed taking our son to a variety of toddler classes but felt that there was a real gap in the market for a structured children’s cycling activity – something to help children learn a key life skill and remove the stress for parents who were unable to teach their children to ride a bike.
4. What are some challenges you encountered, and how did you and your team overcome them?
We launched at a great time and with our unique offering in the children’s activity industry, we were able to grow the business rapidly and very quickly. We are extremely fortunate for the position that we were able to reach by March 2020, but when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the whole children’s activities sector was effectively stopped. For activities like ours that were unable to move into online/Zoom style offerings, the impact was devastating.
During this time, we made the decision to ‘fast forward’ our long-term plan to launch our own children’s cycling brand and were able to utilise the lockdown time to develop and launch our own super lightweight children’s balance bike and a great range of cycling and safety apparel for little riders under our new brand Ti-GO Bikes.
5. What sets CYCLEme TOTS apart from others?
At CYCLEme TOTS, we focus on maintaining a really clear message and everything we do is centred around our strapline “offering a fun and educational start to life on a bike”. We also pride ourselves on our great reputation and delivering a consistently high-quality service across all of our CYCLEme TOTS services.
6. How has Storage King’s secure business storage helped CYCLEme TOTS?
Initially, we chose Storage King as we were looking for small and affordable storage that was local to us for ease. When we first visited, we found exactly what we were looking for and the staff were really helpful. As we have grown, Storage King has been perfect for us to continue to upsize our units as required and the continued service from Laurence and Hayden has been exceptional.
7. Do you have any new and exciting projects planned for 2022?
2022 is another planned year of growth for us as a business as we continue to grow our franchise network across the UK and plan to launch our own Children’s lightweight pedal bike!
Are you looking for a fun and supportive space for your toddler to socialise and learn key development skills? Visit CYCLEme TOTS to find out more about their award-winning balance bike programmes.
Do you have a business story that you would like us to hear about? Send us a message on Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn to be part of our Local Business Spotlight campaign. You can also email us at [email protected].