Atlanta DJ spins records … and bike wheels

Clark Atlanta University graduate Marshall Thomas — better known to audiences as DJ Mars — knows how to get people moving.

"Touring with Kelis was huge … Keri Hilson, Monica, Ne-Yo. Essentially, I’m like the go-to DJ for the big R&B acts in Atlanta," he says.

But when the pandemic put the brakes on live touring in 2020, a chance post on social media sent the artist’s creativity into high gear.

"I bought two bikes that I customized myself, and they were my birthday gifts to myself," says the DJ. "I posted the bikes on Instagram, like, ‘Hey I just did these bikes, they’re a gift to myself.’ And a buyer from the UK looked at one of the bikes and was like, ‘Hey, can I buy it?’"

And suddenly, a business was born.

Made by Mars is the entrepreneur’s line of customized bikes through which he collaborates with customers to transform bikes with one-of-a-kind designs. Mars says the work is creative and dynamic — kind of like DJing with wheels instead of turntables.

"It’s literally the same thing," he explains. "The way I put Record One together with Record Two to make the party people on the floor dance, I’m taking Color A and putting it next to Color B and mashing it up, so when you see your bike, you’re like, ‘Oh wow!’ It’s the same exact…literally, I use the same thought process."

This month, Made by Mars is teaming up with consulting agency Atlanta Influences Everything for a pop-up shop called Made by Mars The Pull Up at Atlantic Station. The space is filled with gear, like T-shirts and mugs, along with factory and customized bikes. DJ Mars says the concept behind the vibrant shop is simple: celebrating Atlanta.

Made by Mars The Pull Up is located at 232 19th Street Northwest at Atlantic Station; it will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. through the end of the month. For more information, you can follow @madebymars on Instagram.

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