I met Sheridan Marquardt years ago when I began riding a bicycle with Team Young Life OKC. He’s one of the most fun-loving guys I’ve ever met—true of most avid cyclists by the way. I dropped by his shop on a Friday night. I unintentionally crashed an impromptu party, saw some old friends and shook hands with a few new ones. Sheridan started out as a starving artist and learned how to make a living doing what he loves— helping people, owning a bike shop and riding his bike.
Sheridan, how did you start Celestial Cycles?
I didn’t start out thinking I’d own a bike shop. I actually started the company as a custom, bike frame builder in 1999.
Really? Why did you want to build bike frames?
I wanted to be an artist. Bikes and bike frames are art to me.
My dream was to have a retail shop, an art gallery to show off the frames I build. And, I wanted to be that old guy in the back of the shop building frames.
“I’ve always valued time over money.”
Really? What caused you to start the retail side of your business?
I got sick of being the starving artist.
[Laughing] So it was tough to start the frame building business?
It wasn’t tough to start.
It was just super tough to make a living. Man, those were lean times. I actually spent some time sleeping at the shop. Really, I was living out of the shop at times.
Wow. After all that, why did you stick with it?
For the love of cycling and the people and community that come with it. You never really go into this industry to get rich.
That’s good insight. What happened next? How were you able to make the jump from starving artist to small business owner?
Leaving the bike industry was never an option so, in 2002, I started carrying a little of inventory and then started the retail side of the business. That helped me turn the corner and start the process of making a living in the industry I love.
“Cycling and community, man! What else do you need?”
You were able to stay self-employed. What do you like best about being a business owner?
I’ve always valued time over money.
I control my schedule. This allows me to do super cool stuff, the stuff I love. Like, I just spent the afternoon with my daughter at a P.E. Assembly at her school.
You’ve been at this for 20 years. I know you now invest heavily in the community in a variety of ways. Why?
Cycling and community, man! What else do you need?
I’m proud and honored to help people doing cool work. I’m proud to be a part of making the miles of new trails around Oklahoma City possible. Cycling is more than a sport, it’s a lifestyle and a community.
That shows, Sheridan. I look around and there are fifteen people hanging out doing life at your shop’s counter.
All the time, man.
One last question, What advice do you have for other small business owners and aspiring owners?
Make sure you love it. You have to love your idea and dream.
Don’t expect to do more than make a modest living. There has to be more to your motivation than money.
Then, when you do make money, that’s just icing on the cake.
You’re welcome. See you soon.
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