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Conversations with the Inspiring Michelle Steilen

Today we’d like to introduce you to Michelle Steilen.

Michelle, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I grew up outside of Philadelphia, PA, roller skating at the rink on the weekends and my Dad and sister skateboarded outside. I didn’t know that you could actually roller skate outdoors until after I moved to California in pursuit of a life in sunnier weather. I joined a roller derby league in LA and realized that the only difference between an outdoor skate and an indoor one, was the soft wheel.

I was inspired to bring roller skating back by telling the East Coast and the rest of the world that you don’t need to be inside to enjoy roller skating!

Then, I discovered so much more. After incorporating roller skating into my regular lifestyle, I shed an effortless 30 lbs. I was hooked. I had worked so hard through all of my teen years running, elliptical stepping… slaving away at the gym to try to stay fit and then I stumbled upon this pair of shoes that I could do so much with; fly down hills, glide for miles along the beach, dance to music with my friends, shred a backyard mini ramp with other skaters, etc.

It is THE loophole to exercise for the bored, busy, daring, adventure seeking and I really see them as the shoes of the future for all people, especially women on a roll!

So, I opened up a store in Long Beach and taught free lessons weekly. I grew a customer base and then worked with a Made in USA roller skate supplier, Riedell Shoes, to design my very own roller skate brand. I always dreamed of pink or purple skates. Then, I wanted to sell them in all of the stores where I love to shop. So, I opened up Urban Outfitters and a bunch of other rad outlets. I sold my store so I could set out and promote the brand to the masses, instead of learning to master retail business.

I sold my shop to the best manager I ever had, Pigeon. She’s opened a second location in Venice, last month.

After I sold the shop, I focused on promotions and product development. I created some videos, advertising our products, that went viral. I started a team and we made some videos that have gone viral. In the making of these videos, I got REALLY GOOD at skating. I say that, because before roller derby, I wasn’t THAT great, but this pursuit, Moxi, has created me. I breathe roller skating now, promoting it with absolutely ALL of my time.

We are very popular in Australia, Europe, South & Central America, the Middle East and throughout the UK. I travel the world meeting, teaching and displaying my energy for roller skating as frequently as I possibly can. This year, I have visited all but Australia so far.

We have been on an exponential growth since I started the concept back in 2008 and last year, our sales doubled. Roller skating is back and its got a whole lotta Moxi.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
This road was messy because I am messy. I moved to CA with a college degree that I had no idea where I could use and I accepted it. I told myself, I’m not going to take anything seriously for a year. I’m going to say YES to what I feel like doing for once, rather than for a reason.

I came to CA on a 1-way ticket with a backpack and my neighbor gave me a skateboard. I bummed rides to roller derby practice. I didn’t own a car until six years into having my business. Part refusal, part standing for roller skating, part I didn’t want the responsibility.

When I started my ‘store’, I dressed up as a pinup girl in my skates and spun a sign out front of a toy store, that read “energy saving transport sold back here.” I was really selling the skates from a stand in the back of a toy store.

Roller Skating requires those that do it, to constantly take risks, fall and overcome yourself, over and over again. It is single-handedly the nature of the activity that I identify with and it’s made me really great at overcoming challenges and obstacles in many areas.

I think people first bought skates from me because I was transforming. I was happy with not a lot, for a long time. People could see how simple and easy and fun this activity was and how happy it made me. MANY of my friends saw the mess I was and started their own businesses with confidence that “IF SHE CAN DO IT, I SURE CAN!” and I egged them on to charge!

As I transformed, and my friends transformed, I expressed it through making skating content and sharing it with my customers while encouraging them to do the same. This synergy started a community that grew WAY bigger than me or Moxi.

Moxi is just my contribution, and it’s a successful one today. However, roller skating is blowing up worldwide. its mecca and historical roots are here in LA and its growing very quickly with the reopening of World on Wheels in LA.

Moxi’s never felt like a struggle but more like the ‘right track’ or the pathway to great self-discipline to get what my heart desires. It served me so well that it drives me to serve others. To serve up happiness, smiles, tricks, dance moves, healthy bodies, simplicity, style… it never ends the energy and ideas I have to share Moxi and make people happy through roller skating.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into Moxi Roller Skates story. Tell us more about the business.
I am the brand manager, so I manage the entire product line, the promotions, and marketing. I have an office in Long Beach with a small staff that produces all of our content, marketing, and design.

We were first to market this recreational, revitalization of roller skating and about eight competitors chased after us! It was a shock at first but then I realized how far ahead Moxi was.

WE ARE MADE IN USA! Nobody in roller skating can say that! We are made by hand in Red Wing, MN and each skate see 85 stations before seeing their box.

I started skating in ramps and promoting a new way to skate (like skateboarding but on roller skates) and a whole global movement called @chicksinbowls was inspired to organize. Now, we can travel anywhere in the world and find a crew of girls to shred with.

We have many celebrities taking up and loving our roller skates. Just this year, we have Willow Smith, Michelle Williams, Sabrina Carpenter, featuring and using them.

There are many things I am in disbelief over but mostly, I’m in the vortex still growing and trying to keep up with that!

Who do you look up to? How have they inspired you?
Women that inspire me are:
entertainer, Miriam Lavelle
motivator, Abraham Hicks
princess, The Little Mermaid
motivator, Pema Chodron
writer, Elizabeth Gilbert

Pricing:

  • Beach Bunny Skates $149.
  • Made in USA Lolly $279.
  • Made in USA Jack $629.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Michelle Steilen, @estrojen Kandis Davis, @mrs_muertos Legs/Marin Wendoll, @_legs_ Chloe, Chenier/Skatey, @skateymcskateface

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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