Unchained magazine: by a cycling family, for cycling families
Michelle Jeffcott created a new publication, Unchained Magazine, to support the cycling community in Scotland.
by Colleen Reid, Mindful Mum, 15th June 2012
Michelle, 29, first fell in love with cycling and the lifestyle that came with it when she met her husband, Fraser, 10 years ago. From a very young age cycling was a huge part of Fraser’s life, Michelle even jokes he was practically born riding a bike.
Within a short space of time, Fraser’s cycling passion rubbed off on Michelle and when their first child came along, they were keen to get him involved in the sport as soon as they could. Michelle remembers, “Cycling is a way of life for many people and we liked the idea of this. After our first child we decided to get him into cycling as early as possible, we bought a trailer for the mountain bike and he was taken on long cycles throughout the year from only a few months old. He loved it and it was great getting him outdoors and engaging in a sport from such an early age. Natural progression to balance bike came and so did another baby, the trailer still going strong and cycling journeys a plenty come rain or shine. We enjoyed the freedom a bike gave us to explore the country side and cycle ways as a family.”
As a cycling family, Michelle and Fraser avidly read cycling magazines but felt they were very much aimed at men. Michelle felt women were not encouraged in cycling as much as male counterparts and that families were largely left out. It was this realisation that lead to the Jeffcots launching their own magazine, not to rival others but to bring something new to the community.
Get Scotland cycling!
Unchained Magazine, which is to launch this month, is a Scottish based social enterprise. It is to offer free, online content aimed at families and communities. Michelle explains, “We aim to promote support and become ambassadors for people, companies and organisations who are driving social change within the cycling industry. We also want to promote communities cycling initiatives. We understand the importance of looking after the environment – cycling can help reduce congestion, gives people more opportunity for exercise and cycling can play a big part in the fight against climate change so let’s get Scotland cycling!”
With her own cycling family as inspiration, Cumbernauld born Michelle is juggling being a mum to Zak and Paige, launching and running her own magazine and still manages to work part time in a consultative sales role. Her experience in sales and marketing across a variety of industries have gifted a wealth of transferable skills to the magazine process. Fraser, a fireman, used to work in the cycling industry for major brands and knows the market inside out. Together, they knew they had found the perfect business idea.
Since starting her own business, Michelle admits it’s been a rollercoaster with many years passing by as she conjured up ideas, nailed a great one and finally followed it through. Unchained Magazine are one of a few business start-ups to have been invited into ‘Entrepreneurial Spark’, a social enterprise and Scotland’s first free business incubator. After a tough six months of hard work and development, Unchained ‘flew the coop’ knowing that they had ideated their idea to fruition.
Michelle says, “The hatchery provided us with the most amazing atmosphere in which to start a business, there was support and mentoring that enabled us to pivot when needed and follow through on ideas to make them happen. We owe a lot to Jim Duffy and the team and would encourage anyone with an idea to pitch it to Entrepreneurial Spark and get help to turn and idea into a great working business.”
Although still in launch mode, Unchained Magazine have a few memorable achievements they are never to forget. “We recently decided to become Scottish ambassadors for the Rider down, a trust which helps promote helmet wearing and safety to cyclist. Trust Director Lisa, is dedicated to increasing awareness of traumatic brain injury after her brother, Scott, was involved in a 4x race accident. We loved her dedication to her brother and wanted to help promote the trust. They have recently joined us at the launch of Biggest Journey where we support Stuart Potter on his biggest journey – a bike ride to raise awareness or MIND charity. ”
Be passionate and have fun
Both Michelle and Fraser’s family have provided immense and vital support to the family throughout this exciting time in their lives. For other parents thinking of launching a new business, Michelle says it’s all about passion. She says, “Think of a passion and think can that passion make a business? It will be difficult at times but if you love what you do you will want to do it no matter what gets in the way. Encourage your children to be part of the experience, this was easy for us as cycling is something the whole family can enjoy.
“If you are in business with your partner takes breaks for dates! It can be stressful, but it can also be amazing fun and you will bond in ways you didn’t expect. It’s team work at its best! Make time for family things, sometimes business and your idea can take over every minute of the day -this is fine – but enjoy life still and enjoy being a mum – or dad too! Set Metrics and know how you are going to achieve them, this will need you to plan your time wisely but the result will mean you will have more time to be a family and have fun out with having fun building your business.”