Dashing Bicycles & Accessories owner Marin Tockman is a badass, to say the least.
She greeted me with a big smile and a tank top that read “Don’t Steal Bikes” as I entered her cozy storefront on Rampart. She has distinctive grit, a DIY ethos, and the glow of someone that has turned their joy for biking into a full-time job. Marin reminds us that making your dreams a reality requires a certain amount of badassery, but with enough tenacity, it’s definitely possible.
Name: Marin Tockman
Current Title / Company: Owner, Dashing Bicycles & Accessories
First Job: Babysitter
Worst Job: Working in the Film Industry
What lead you to open your own store?
My family has a long history of being small independent business owners. Going to work with my mom at her toy store, and showing up at my uncle or grandfather’s stores on a visit, showed me from a young age that working for myself could be crazy at times – but definitely possible. I opened Dashing Bicycles & Accessories in fall 2013, after about six years of volunteering and then working in the non-profit world of bicycle/pedestrian advocacy both here in New Orleans and New York City. It’s really a passion of mine to cross the worlds of advocacy, community, and the joy of biking – and having a storefront space is a great way to accomplish all that at once.
Tell me more about Dashing Bicycles.
Our tagline is New Orleans’ bicycle boutique powered by women. We operate out of a shared storefront space that is one part coffee shop (serving amazing espresso and coffee) and one part city bike shop in the French Quarter. It’s become quite a bustling community space where you can grab a cup of coffee while we work on bikes, sell new and vintage bicycles, and fun accessories and apparel geared towards everyday city riders. It’s a pretty unassuming bike shop and definitely a fun & friendly space for women, men, and families alike who love coffee and bikes.
What’s been the biggest highlight in your first year of business?
Seeing so many of our customers out on bikes! It’s really great seeing the city and its residents embrace biking more and more throughout all of our neighborhoods. That energy and enthusiasm is really contagious. One of the best feelings is when one of our clients leaves our store with a new or improved bike and we spot them out on the streets riding around town.
What advice do you have for anyone wanting to open their own shop?
My biggest advice is to be realistic about your commitment and constantly reminding yourself of your bigger vision. Daily details can seem overwhelming, but I’ve found it’s really important to not get away from the passion of why I started out on my own, and even on the most exhausting of days still find joy in why I’m working hard at opening this store.
What is the hardest thing you’ve experienced this month with running your own business?
The hardest thing I think is that I work 7 days a week and haven’t had a day off in a really long time. Finding time for myself and my personal life is really hard when I care so much about getting this business off the ground.
What are some of your goals/plans for this year?
My goals for this year are to expand the business and its reach into the community, to offer more free bicycle maintenance workshops for women across the city, and to offer more types of bikes and bicycle accessories for all types of bike riders. To get a day off every once in a while is a good goal too.
If you could go back in time, what would you say to your 21 year old self?
Travel, explore, ask more questions, and ride a bike everywhere! When I was 21 I hadn’t yet had the “aha” moment of how awesome biking can be. It’s truly one of the most freeing experiences, makes you feel super healthy and energetic, and has allowed me to travel so many interesting places very cheaply. I really should’ve done a lot more of that in my younger years.
What type of bike do you ride?
I ride a variety of bikes – I can’t just have one! I ride a very tiny fixed gear Affinity Bicycle on my fast riding days built by a friend in NYC; I built up an old 1960s steel English Royce with handlebars I brought back from a trip to India that is my city cruiser to ride during parades; and I constantly ride, test, and zip around in our Public Bikes we sell in store as my main “get around town” style bike now.
Favorite place to bike in New Orleans?
I think biking in the French Quarter is a pretty amazing experience and why I love having the shop located in the heart of the city. You can catch the architecture, characters in the street, and as they say, the “tout ensemble”, in no other way from the seat of bike.
Favorite local restaurant?
That’s a tough one, but if I had to think about if there was one place that would describe the taste of New Orleans to me it would be at at Coop’s Place — you just can’t beat their rabbit jambalaya and fried okra!