Four months ago, I knew for the first time that The Fuller Life, the company I work with and CFL might part ways. It was a perfectly logical, business decision â€“ the parent company had to focus on businesses that were core to it. Sure, my head gets that. But thanks to human circuitry not being quite straightforward, the decision smote the region of my heart.
I have been at the store from the get go (quite literally. From that first kitchen floor wash with sudsy water), to spending weekends subbing for someone or learning how to interact with customers, learnt the high of having a customer come close to buying a cycleâ€¦ and the quick down of disappointment when they take off to â€˜explore more optionsâ€™, learnt to work the POS system and make invoices and hoped to learn how to fix my own bike. And was all that to be in for sudden death?
And all this is just about me. I was worried about my pals in the business â€“ some people I have known, liked and appreciated for long and some I met as a result of the business. Such huge affection for young Riyaz, for the gentle expression on Nasir bhaiâ€™s weatherbeaten face, for Rishabhâ€™s unintelligible mutters amid which some really intelligent gems lurk (yep. Gems. Not germs :D) Nikhil & Pavan and all the smarts and wisdom and funnies they bring.
After months of lost sleep and uncontrollable boo-hoos later, it came to pass. Cyclists For Life and The Fuller Life were parting ways. After some discussions, it was decided that Pavan & Nikhil will buy over and run the business. While that meant a big phew for them, it also meant palpitations, raw fear and â€œWhat!! Weâ€™re cast adriftâ€ kinda feeling. Any LBS in Bangalore will tell you (hell, any sports business in India will tell you) that this business ainâ€™t for the folks looking to make bagfuls of money and walking away whistling. Try real estate for that. Or half a dozen other successful businesses. Great for them, really. Itâ€™s a pity we arenâ€™t one of them. The one big reason weâ€™re in this is for the passion for cycling. And the belief that we can make a difference to the changing cycling scene out here and can coax, cajole, play catalyst to cycling and feel satisfied in that achievementâ€¦ and of course, some money that makes us not be in the red.
It doesn’t matter how many years of good quality HR you have done – axing four people’s work with you – even if they are going to find other, better ways of working – hurts like hell. Sure, that’s part of life but not an experience I’d want repeated. What this means for Â me, is that while my official journey with the business as Head of HR, TFL is over, I intend spending some time helping with whatever needs doing – Christmas gifts or getting coffee jars or putting up description cards for cycles… and one hopes, the occasional independently handled sale. I like it! The future is full of cycles! So, read on, to see what is coming up next. So, expect some more blog posts from me 🙂
The store will be biding goodbye to Rishabh, who moves to doing comms (making videos â€“ his first love â€“ and some writing for RFL) with The Fuller Life, full time. Weâ€™re happy that Rishabh gets to go and do what he likes, with good people. Weâ€™re happy that he will be happy. And he will get weekends off. We also bid goodbye to Nasir bhai, our uber friendly source of stories â€“ that is just breaking our hearts but we are learning from him to be stoic â€“ in the last week, he has treatedÂ us to food twice, by way of goodbye. And of course, those who truly touch your hearts are never too far away â€“ and Nasir bhai has promised to arrive with food when we call him.
We have also bid farewell to RFL, who have moved back to mothership in Austin Town â€“ now that is a parting that will pervade on us and drop a pall of loneliness (which, we hope to palliate with hopefully, lots of customersÂ :D)
While the parting of ways has taken place, a lot of stuff is changing. Not just ownership and how the store looks but a bunch of other things: first up, a new name, tagline, logo are in the offing. That will start off the incorporation process. The website, the product mix, the peopleâ€¦
In the middle of all this uprooting, there pervades a sense of calm. On the positive side, we have had multiple blessings â€“ the goodwill of a ton of people who heard about this and told us they were happy that weâ€™re sticking on to the Bangalore landscape. We are grateful to The Fuller Life â€“ the association might have been brief â€“ but it was what helped us set this up in the real world. And the parting was gentlemanly. We are happy that we have warm and wonderful landlords in Suraj and Ashritha, who have treated us with amazing sweetness. We have friends and family that’s clambering over each other to invest, stock up our kitchen essentials, gift us a clock… name it!
These last few months have been, above all else, to use a cliche, a learning experience, a horizon-broadening, life-altering, spine-toughening experience. And weâ€™re thrilled, having come out the other side, that we are still standing, our heads bloodied but unbowed. And we have the chance to fight another day (sorry about the sudden appearance of the war allegoriesâ€¦ but it just felt rightâ€¦ survival is, after all, battle)
We look forward, with a smile on our faces, a rainbow in our hearts, with hope and confidence. Hereâ€™s hoping 2014 pushes us far forward in the path we embarked on, in 2013. Stick with us, for we take courage from our friends.