NJMOMpreneur: Kerri Martin, Second Life Bikes, Asbury Park


New Jersey is home to many ambitious and talented women who juggle family, career, and home. A select few of these women are also extremely busy building their own companies to help better manage the balance of work and family. At NJMOM, we want to highlight these extraordinary women who build businesses in New Jersey, and learn the secret to their success.

Founder of Second Life Bikes & NJMOMpreneur:
Kerri Martin

Kerri Martin is the founder of Second Life Bikes in Asbury Park, New Jersey, an eclectic bicycle shop that has become a community staple. Their “youth earn-a-bike program” provides boys and girls the opportunity to get hands-on, learn mechanical skills in the shop, and even take home their own bicycle after completing the program. When Kerri’s not in the shop repairing bikes or mentoring children, she continues to give back to her community in other ways: she serves on the Asbury Park Library Board of Trustees and even delivers Ted talks throughout the region about the work Second Life Bikes continues to accomplish. Through it all, she makes it a point to spend time with her family, bike new and challenging routes in New Jersey, and even race every week at Garden State Velodrome in Wall.

NJMOM had the pleasure of speaking with Kerri about raising her little one while operating a successful nonprofit organization, and we even got her best tips on where families can bicycle together in New Jersey.

Kerri Martin of Second Life Bikes, with her daughter, Nellie.

NJMOM: What do you offer to your clients and how is it different than other professionals in your field?
Kerri: Second Life Bikes is a youth earn-a-bike program and community bike shop. We offer youth between the ages of 12-18 the opportunity to learn bike mechanics and on-the-job skills. After putting in 15 hours of time, they get to earn themselves a bicycle. We also sell affordable new and used bikes and parts. The shop is also a place for the community to use our tools or partake in events.

NJMOM: What inspired you to come up with the idea for your business?
I formerly worked for Recycle-a-Bicycle in New York City. Karen Overton started the organization and the concept of giving youth jobs skills while giving bikes new life. Similar organizations exist around the country but all operate a little differently, depending on where they are located and the needs of the community. There is a large network of shops like Second Life Bikes, so we are all able to share ideas and inspire each other.

“Nellie and I at the Garden State Velodrome in Wall, New Jersey. Every Wednesday night since 2012, I race there.”

NJMOM: What is your favorite part about your business?
It’s never boring. Every day there is a different bike, person, or story coming through our doors.

NJMOM: What is your background in your business expertise?
I worked for Recycle-a-Bicycle and for a few other retail bike shops. I was a sociology major in college; I am constantly having to look at Second Life Bikes in two different ways. Sometimes I have to act like a non-profit director or a social service worker, and other times I have to think with the business in mind so we stay afloat.

NJMOM: What are you most proud of in your career?
I gave a TED talk at the local TEDx conference in the fall of 2013 about Second Life Bikes. It was very hard to prepare for it, and I felt like I worked on it on a daily basis for six weeks. Just recently, I co-hosted the TEDx talks that took place at the Paramount Theater in Asbury Park. I am very proud to have founded an organization that is creative, unique, and people are fascinated to hear about it. Being involved in the local TED talks lets me get connected with other interesting and inspiring individuals.

Kerri delivering a TED talk in Monmouth County. Photo via.

NJMOM: What is something few people know about you?
I have ridden and raced every sort of bicycle, but I still make it my New Year’s Resolution every year to learn how to ride a unicycle. I serve on the Asbury Park Library Board of Trustees; I love going to the library and helping to serve on its board. Sometimes when things get hectic at the bike shop, I dream of being a librarian.

NJMOM: What can we expect from you in 2017?
I just wrote in my personal journal last night that for the rest of 2017, I just want to keep my life together. I want to manage being a mom and hold Second Life Bikes together without setting any far-reaching goals.

NJMOM: What is a charity and cause you are most passionate about?
I love the work organizations like the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition and the Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition are doing to make New Jersey roads and towns more bike- and pedestrian-friendly. Just because cars are big doesn’t mean that they should rule the road.

“That’s my partner, Mark Waters, and two Manasquan High School sophomores that race for a mountain bike team that Mark and I coach.”

NJMOM: Who is your role model?
Jennifer Crews is a dear friend and also on the Board of Trustees of Second Life Bikes. You can literally talk to her about anything, ranging from business plans and spreadsheets to kids and sewing to robots and communes. She believes you can have a thriving family and a kick-ass career. She started a company called Flock to help families manage chores and responsibilities so it doesn’t fall on one person’s (usually the mom!) shoulders.

NJMOM: What is the best piece of advice your mom ever gave to you?

Don’t worry what anybody thinks about you (except your mother!)

NJMOM: Do you have a favorite quote you live by?
“Always do what you are afraid to do.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

NJMOM: Where do you reside and vacation in New Jersey?
Kerri: I reside with my partner, Mark and my daughter, Nellie in Asbury Park. Although it is wonderful living near the ocean, on our days off we like to be around trees, lakes, and mountains. Visiting Sussex County has the feel of being in Vermont without the long drive. We love to cross-country ski at High Point State Park in the winter.

“This is us cycling around Asbury Park with our friend, Derek, and his son, River.”

NJMOM: What are your favorite things to do in New Jersey with your family?
Mark and I love riding bikes on the Delaware and Raritan Canal and seeing it change with the seasons. We love riding the roads in Hunterdon County, and we love mountain biking at Allaire State Park, Hartshorne Woods Park, Six Mile Run Reservoir Site, Wharton State Forest, and Clayton Park. We are hoping to include Nellie in our cycling adventures this summer, now that she is old enough.

NJMOM: What are your favorite businesses in New Jersey?
Mark and I have always loved eating at hole-in-the-wall ethnic restaurants. We especially seek out Vietnamese, Indian, and good Mexican food. Whenever I visit a new town, I love to check out their bike shop, library, and maybe a church or two. Those are all great gathering places that give you a great pulse on a community.

“This bakfiet is how Nellie and I travel around Asbury Park. It was given to us by a Dutch family in Ocean Grove.”

NJMOM: What is the best part about being a mom for you?
Kerri: I love seeing the world in a different light. I love thinking of all the fun things we are going to do together. Every time I pass a playground now, I think, “I can’t wait to ride our bikes there, together.”

To learn more about Second Life Bikes, visit their website and follow along on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

About Author

Chelsea is a freelance writer and photographer based in the kid-friendly community of Asbury Park, and she loves sharing tips and news about this cultural beach town with NJMOM readers. When she's not discovering new bike trails, playing in her handbell choir, or reading on the beach, Chelsea works as a Children's Library Associate at a public library. You can catch her out in Asbury Park watching her husband play drums with talented local artists - be sure to come say hello!