Tampa entrepreneur turns love of cycling into apparel business

In 2013, Paola Bedin launched a business designing and selling women’s cycling apparel. Like the clothing she designs, the business was a perfect fit. After all, Bedin has cycling in her blood. Her grandfather, father and uncle raced competitively. As a teenager, she raced on women’s teams in her native Italy.

When she was a 7-year-old in her hometown of Vicenza, her parents asked her what she wanted as a reward for being promoted in school.

“I said I want to have a road bicycle with Shimano gears,” Bedin, 49, of Tampa, recalls. “My dad was shocked because it was like saying I want a Tesla.”

The first day she went riding with her father, she cycled 30 miles with a two-mile climb. Her mother was angry with her husband, saying, “You’re crazy! You want to kill the kid?”

But the child was hooked and it’s a thrill she has never given up. The cycling clothes of the era were another matter altogether.

“First of all, at that time the jersey was made of wool and also the shorts,” Bedin says. “And the padding that was inside the shorts, it was made of leather. It was so uncomfortable. You were sweating with the wool and it was itching all the time.’’

Shifting gears

Bedin raced for three years, long enough to realize that she wasn’t good enough to be successful against that level of competition. She quit racing but kept riding and eventually went to work for cycling fashion companies, first as a sales manager and later as a designer.

“I could see the items that were selling the most were the ones that I was inventing,’’ Bedin says. 

She proposed to her boss that he come out with a new line of apparel exclusively for women. He balked at the idea.

“I said, ‘You know what, I’m going to start my own brand,’’ Bedin says.’ 

In 2013 she launched MYN Sport and started selling her designs online. 

MYN stands for “Mind Your Nature,’’ she says.

“It’s kind of like ‘Just Do It ’ for Nike, but you have to accept who you are that day,” Bedin says. “Because sometimes you are a strong cyclist but today you have a bad day, your body’s weak. Just mind your nature. Just go enjoy it; go ride the bike anyway.’’

Eventually, she moved her company to Florida and expanded her line to men’s cycling apparel, and clothes for other sports.

“It’s going well, but when you’re an entrepreneur you always want to do better,’’ Bedin says. 

It went better the first few years when she was working through distributors and shops.

“We sell online and we are happy,” Bedin says. “We are satisfied with what the clients have said. We have really good reviews. But at the same time, now it’s very very difficult. You cannot sell to shops anymore because most of the shops are owned by huge brands … They have their own brand of shoes, their own brand of helmet, their own brand of clothing.’’

She has found a niche in designing team cycling clothes for bicycling clubs. She’s also seeking investors. She’s tackling the business with the same attitude she has cycling up a mountain.

“Before reaching the climb, you say, ‘Oh, I really want to reach the summit,’” Bedin says. “The first thing you do when you get up there, you start looking at the scenario, you say, ‘Which one is the highest now that I can go?’’’

For more information, go to MYN Sport
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Read more articles by Philip Morgan.

Philip Morgan is a freelance writer living in St. Petersburg. He is an award-winning reporter who has covered news in the Tampa Bay area for more than 50 years. Phil grew up in Miami and graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in journalism. He joined the Lakeland Ledger, where he covered police and city government. He spent 36 years as a reporter for the former Tampa Tribune. During his time at the Tribune, he covered welfare and courts and did investigative reporting before spending 30 years as a feature writer. He worked as a reporter for the Tampa Bay Times for 12 years. He loves writing stories about interesting people, places and issues.