Updated: Aug 25
by Mel Blackwood @troubleon8wheels
I'm all about celebrating the small wins. It's one reason that I enjoy a little dance riff with a clap - give yourself a little round of applause every now and again. I'm sure I heard a statistic that giving someone a high-five will put a smile on their face as in that brief moment of connection, because you make eye contact.
The bigger wins, things that have been longer in the making, required more grit, or are just a stepping stone along the way, are often less noisily celebrated (by me). I would say they are acknowledged with a "Oh yes, that's really great," a shrug and a smile and that's it. I'm moving onwards already.
I do know that some of this stems from difficulty accepting compliments. If you've ever given me a compliment, I am working on simply saying "thank you" instead of brushing it off. Like:
In the shop
Stranger: "Your hair is lovely."
Me: "thanks, I haven't done anything with it."
It doesn't matter if I don't think my hair is particularly great, someone is nice enough to go out of their way to say something nice, for no reason. And actually it speaks more about me, not loving myself properly.
Why can't I just accept it and be grateful? I mean, I am grateful, just not always at that moment - it catches me off guard. Let's make it a thing? #ComplimentChallenge
Anyway, I am going to toot the trumpet of celebration as we race towards the end of the year. It feels like we gathered momentum throughout the year and then continued to speed up. I'm hoping we have already reached terminal velocity as I'm seriously not sure how much more I can take at this pace!
First up, classes and events.
Our tiny team had to grow in order to support the huge numbers of skaters coming through the doors of the Sikh Centre. A massive cheer to Jen, who has to put up with my new 'latest and greatest' idea, which we inevitably don't have time to do. As well as being one of our coach squad, Jen also supports RGG by looking after the classes and events admin and website tech stuff too. We're still working on a more concise job title for her!
A few of our numbers are:
We have another 6 assistant coaches, taking our coach numbers to a squad of 12.
We've trained another 10 skate marshalls to support with administration and wellbeing at our socials and larger events. We now have a crew of almost 40! Granted, they are not always available, but that's the idea - more marshalls keeps this volunteer role fun.
Of the team above, we trained 12 of them with emergency first aid at a cost of over £1000. This was an investment from RGG into our community. We believe that having more first aiders helps people feel more confident and the whole community is safer. (After all, there are a bunch of skate groups in Leeds now.) It's what profits from classes and events help us do. If you've been to anything we run - thank you!
Musical hours: The hours listening to music may not entirely be at classes and events, as I do spend quite a bit of time travelling! During that listening time though, I'm often day dreaming about roller skating or choreographing movements in my head. We have an unlimited PRS music license too, as we want to be able to play any genre of music without restriction. Sadly, it is much more expensive than if we gave PRS a list of tunes we enjoy, but we feel it is worth it. We can't very well say that we are supportive of creative people and then not pay the music license can we?
I mean 4000+ skaters at our classes and events?! When I look back at the year, we have run a LOT of sessions. Our base sessions are four per week, often it has been more. We've had roller dance specific classes, outdoor meet-ups, our Summer Skate Picnic and the Summer Solstice Roll Out (remember when it was warmer?) Corn Exchange roller discos and that's just in Leeds. This isn't 4000 unique skaters FYI, we are very lucky to have a fabulous group of folks who come to lots of our sessions and events.
We've also spread the skate love through online classes, in our first video series. I'm actually really proud of it, I think if you are an anxious adult, wanting to roller skate, it is the ideal video series for you.
And now to the shop!
A huge part of the shop is the shop team. Emily, Janey, Sophie and Laura keep everything in order and are constantly striving to do better. I pinch myself regularly because I still don't fully know how we found each other, but I am so glad we did! They have all taught me not to assume anything - you never really know anything about anyone until they tell you. Shop team, you are all angels. Thank you.
These numbers are pretty mind blowing.
7000 orders is over 130 a week. When I took out the Royal Mail business collection service in September 2020, I was worried I wouldn't make their minimum number of 25 parcels a week and look at us now!
Although the number of shop transactions is lower, my goodness we have had some spectacular moments of human connection in this tiny space. Sunshine pours through the windows during Spring and Summer, casting rainbows all over the shop. Weekday mornings are usually very peaceful, so people browsing are caught off guard by our space. Sometimes, our energy resonates with a complete stranger. Before we know it, they are sharing their life story with us and we are all crying together. They are usually tales of being lost and later finding ourselves. I find these moments very humbling as creating a space that feels safe is magical. It's something I'll continue to work towards but not something I can ever say I've completed. After all, it's up to others to let me know they feel safe here. Ultimately, the feedback I get, (even today, when a young person ran in and grabbed a pair of trans socks from the rail, smiling ear to ear, they told me they felt seen and able to be themselves), informs what we do. *choke* Thank you!
Building skates is an absolute delight, and I intend to continue to expand and improve this service in 2023. There is no way I'd have been able to build this many pairs of skates on my own though, so now we have additionally trained Sophie and Emily to wield power tools. It takes much less time now to build a pair of skates than my very first build (I'm sure somewhere it's on the blog!) that took me about 2 days, but I still don't like to be rushed. Someone - you - have trusted RGG to create their dream, and this is something I value highly. Building the custom collection is really fun too, we get to match different components in the shop and really walk through the journey our customers do. I never realised just how important laces are to the overall aesthetic before we did this!
In total we have around 350 Instax photos. We know that our first year was quieter due to lots of different lockdown / no lockdown rules, and that is okay. This started as a way of reminding myself that without a bunch of fabulous customers who choose us over larger online shops, we don't exist. And I would have to go back to primary teaching! Thank you all for understanding that we are a very small business still, being patient and kind, reminding us to put things right when we make mistakes and just being a wonderful community to serve. Excuse my leaky eyes!
Wishing everyone a Happy Christmas, or other seasonal celebration and a Happy New Year. I welcome hugs if you see me in person.