I had the pleasure of interviewing Aileen Brousseau, the CEO of “Cycle Party”. The start-up is now in its seventh year of operation in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach and is beginning to license the concept in other States and in the Caribbean.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?
My husband was born in Hamburg and we are both avid adventurers. We absolutely love to do our adventures by bicycle! On one of our trips back to Germany, we planned a journey of about 700 miles across Germany. Near the end of our journey, we found ourselves in Freiburg. This is where we saw a Party Bike in action. It was such a unique contraption but I immediately thought it would be a perfect fit in South Florida. Our son Christopher was in Miami for school at the time and we already had strong roots since we had lived there previously for 11 years. The stars seemed to align just right to make this idea come to life. We’re now on our 7th year of operating where I can get to work with my husband, son and his best friend from middle school.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
We began our operation out of a local Fort Lauderdale complex called Riverfront and in 2015 we took on a project to take over and restore a 100 year old historic home that is now our main office. Both my husband and I have taken on projects like this before but this was one of the most complex as far as getting approval since it was the restoration of a historic home. Initially, when we first started working on our approval in Fort Lauderdale we sat down with the commissioner who actually recommended the historic home but it took us 6 years to realize it was the perfect fit for Cycle Party.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting?
We found a fabricator in Florida to build our first custom designed party bike. I recommended that he get a bicycle mechanic to help him. He has built custom cars and motorcycles but did not know bicycles. He refused to seek any help throughout the process. Within the first two weeks, the pedals fell off the party bike while people pedaled. It turns out he did not know that there are Right and Left pedals for that reason.
Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Don’t trust any man who is too proud to ask for help.
What do you think makes your company stand out?
This is a family run business and we work out of a historic home. We are constantly striving to be environmentally conscience and community oriented. Cycle Party itself is one of the most unique ways you can get a view of the city through any of our unique tours.
Can you share a story?
While we working on our approval to get into Miami, we set up one of our party bikes during Wynwood’s art festival. We invited local artists to bomb the bike. We preemptively bought chalk paint to offer to the graffiti artists thinking it would be easy to wash off the next day. It was a huge success because every inch of the party bike was covered in paint when the festival was over. Boy was I wrong though about the paint. It took us about a week of scrubbing and powerwashing to get the paint off.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now?
We are having a radically new Party Bike designed with the help of my son’s father in law. It will be the first of it’s kind and we are hoping to revolutionize the industry. How do you think that will help people? It will help push towards more environmentally friendly tours.
What advice would you give to other females to help their teams to thrive at work?
Enjoy what you are doing and allow your employees to make mistakes.
What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?
Praising your employees for doing a good job goes a long way.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
Eugenia Duncan Ellis, President of Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale Can you share a story about that? Genia has been instrumental in getting Cycle Party established. I met her while participating in benefits pro-bono before we got our license to operate in Fort Lauderdale. She introduced us to influential people around the community during festivals and benefits. After that we were able to smoothly get approval and for that I am grateful for everything she’s done for us.
How have you used your job to bring goodness to the world?
At Cycle Party, I have made it my mission to be environmentally friendly. By using only human pedal power and electricity we help lower the carbon output. Our tour operation also supports many local establishments and helps boost the local economy in whatever neighborhood we’re in.
What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experiences” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Persistence- We had several failures when installing electric assist on our party bikes. If we had given up after the first one, we wouldn’t be as far as we are today.
- Patience- It took us 5 years to get approved in Miami. By waiting and being persistent we finally were able to grow what is becoming our largest market.
- Strong Relationships- By maintaining and nurturing relationships with the right people, we have been able to achieve greater success than if I worked alone.
- Learn from Mistakes- We had 5 incredibly successful years until 2017 when we had our worst year to date. We looked closely at the mistakes that were made and rebounded in 2018.
- Be Authentic- I find it’s important to truly be passionate about your work. The more you enjoy what you do, the more it will show in your business.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?
“Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of travel” by Margaret Lee Runbeck.
Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Instead of working to achieve happiness, I want to make it a goal where I find it hard to remember when I’m not happy. Living this way has awarded me with such great triumphs.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)
Sara Blakely would be an amazing person to sit down with. I first heard about her when she was named as one of the most powerful women in 2016. After reading more about how she grew spanx and her charity work. I imagine I could learn so much from her from one conversation with her.