From cyclist to entrepreneur: the genesis of Teeezy.com

In my latest post, I asked myself the question: "What to write when you think you have nothing to say"? Well, in this first real post, I thought that it would be a good idea to just write about my own history, and how everything just aligned perfectly for me to become the owner of a bicycle t-shirts store on the Internet.

Bicycles, illustrations and computers

First, let's just establish the facts. Bicycles, illustrations and computers have been part of my entire life (well, maybe not for the computers as they didn't exist back then, but still, for a long part of my life!). At first, it may seem I did many different things in my career, from computer science to illustrations, to antique store owner or technical support manager. And now, I'm just having fun selling bicycles in a local bike shop. From the unadvised onlooker, I may well be seen as "the man with the 23 careers", as once was said by a friend of mine. Well, let me explain how such diverse expertise makes sense when you relate them with the 3 aforementioned words: bicycles, illustrations and computers.

The early years

Early years as a cyclist

When I was I kid, like many more kids at that time, I was riding my bicycle through my neighbourhood and enjoyed drawing. A lot of both. The only thing is, I never really stopped liking any of these, even as I grew older. The first two words already had a major impact on my life, and still do today as I still ride bikes, and still make most of the drawings for the t-shirts on Teeezy.com

The computers made their appearance in our house when I was maybe 7 or 8 years old, I think. We had, I don't remember in which order, A Sega Genesis , a VIC-20, a Timex Sinclair and maybe a few others, but the one machine that had the greatest impact on my life was definitely my collection of Macs, from the early days of my Mac Plus to the current MacBook Pro I'm using right now, they all really had a lasting impact on me. I can still remember the feeling of using a - by today's standards- a very primitive drawing application named SuperPaint. Nothing like what we have today, but in 1989, drawing with a mouse, on a graphic computer was something no other machine could do so well. I was in love! So this is how I got hooked to the third word: computers.

The teenage years and a complicated career choice

When you are a teenager, our society asks you to make the most important choice of your life: what career path will you be pursuing for the rest of your life! Better make the right choice, or else, you'll be unhappy for a long time (or so I thought). Whatever I choose, would not have impacted my love of the bicycle. There were so many choices in my city, that I could do whatever I wanted and still go to school by bike. That part settled, I still had to choose between my love of the art or my love for the computers. I didn't knew we could have both, back then. Maybe I would have been happier with something like graphic design, or multimedia integrator or something like that. The only choices I thought I had were either of Art or Computer Science. Two extremes that seemed to never cross path with each other. I decided on an art program and a computer science program and went for the school visit.

The Art program was the first one I went to, and they had these older students explaining their "Art" to Us. That guy had the most negative influence on my entire life: "This is a cloud, man", pointing his pale long finger on some abstract art that I don't remember, but was clearly not a cloud to me! Not to my conception of a cloud anyhow! And so, I chose the Computer Science route. Big mistake. It was boring.

I wasn't entirely unhappy with the Computer Science program, as I liked computers, but when do we have to use our creativity? I really didn't like that so much as to program a mainframe server using the Cobol programming language or how to configure a UNIX machine for TCP/IP access over a beige terminal with amber text written on its screen...

I figured to pass my certificate anyway, trying to program my Mac at home in my spare time. That machine was so much more fun and creative than the beige box we had in school. A colour screen, a mouse, Photoshop and HyperCard as a very creative programming environment. I was able to program simple videogames at home, while I was just trying to hook UNIX boxes together at school with this unfriendly typing of obscure commands with the beige keyboards. That's how it went for me. At least, they had a bike touring class in Physical Education...

Trying to be a computer nerd was not easy

As I made my way into the working world, it seems I couldn't get happy, whatever I did. From a UNIX network installation to 2nd level technical support, I was always missing something. The very strict world of computer science it's not where a creative soul can find his inner peace. When I asked myself, at the end of the day, what was the best moment of that day, it was most often, the bike ride before and the bike ride after.…  Not much for the work itself!

I spent a good number of years trying to just be creative and forget about the computers. I've spent more than 10 years trying to earn a revenue as a freelance illustrator (the other extreme on the creative scale!). The market here is not easy: customers negotiate the prices, asking for numerous revisions, forgetting to pay you in time… It was a good time for my creativity, but not for my health and certainly not for my wallet. It cost me a lot of money, my marriage and almost a house. Not a good period of my life!

So, after trying to make it work with computers and art, without much success I have to admit, I was deeply in need of trying something else. Back to my third passion: bikes. I've been happily working in a local bike shop for the last two years. The job is physical, lets me meet nice people and pays for the bills. The added bonus is that it's closed to my house and I have plenty of time for my newest business project: The Teeezy Bicycle T-Shirts store!

The Teeezy Bicycle T-Shirts Store

When you try to remove the entrepreneur from a person, it kicks back. You can't. Once an entrepreneur, always an entrepreneur. Just binge-watching Netflix doesn't cut it for me. I had to have a project I could work on my spare time. Something I would be passionate about and that I could love working on for many years. That's where the Teeezy Bicycle T-Shirt store came into my life. I wanted to combine my passions for computers, art and the bicycle. How I could mix all these aspects was by creating and selling bicycle t-shirts designs online. What you see in my store, is the combination of my three passions, united together under a single brand: bicycles, computers and illustrations. The perfect combination that is unique to my own little self. 

At my job in the bicycle store I'm active, I meet nice bike people and I can pay the groceries. In my evenings and weekends, I'm happy to sit in front of a computer for hours and work on something that may be more durable than any job, where you're renting your time, in exchange for money. Maybe one day I will be able to ride my bike and just manage my business from wherever I can find an Internet connection, living for real The Bike Life? Let's no think too far, this business if a marathon, not a sprint. Rome wasn't built in one day…

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