What began as a desire to play an aggressive sport ultimately led Julie Hunter to leave her career as a landscape architect and open her own roller skate shop.
Nine years ago, Hunter—who goes by Glitter, a shortened version of her roller derby name, Glitterotica—joined the Hellcats, one of the teams in the Texas Roller Derby/Texas Lonestar Rollergirls and fell in love with the sport.
“I started [Medusa Skates] on the side to see: Was there a market? Did I enjoy it?” she said. “I ended up loving it.”
For a year and a half the business operated out of Hunter’s garage before she opened the brick-and-mortar location in August 2012. Running a small business is stressful, Hunter said, but she credits her customers for her success in the niche industry.
“I get people from all over Texas and whoever comes into Austin for South by Southwest [Music and Media Conference] and conventions, so I’ll get people from all over the world,” she said. “It’s been bigger than I thought it was going to be.”
The shop sells roller skates, inline skates, socks, clothing, accessories and protective gear. Hunter traveled to Las Vegas to learn how to create custom skates. Clients pick out the boots, wheel plate, wheels and laces for Hunter to create. She said it is no easy task to ensure proper alignment.
“One-sixteenth [of an inch] over can really make a difference on your balance,” she said.
Once a customer’s skates are ready, Hunter photographs the pair and posts a photo on the business’s Facebook page as a virtual runway.
“It’s also to show people, ‘Look at these combinations [of parts],’ because everything you see online really isn’t going to show you all the combinations you can do,” she said.
Medusa Skates’ clientele does not just include roller derby skaters. Hunter said she has customers who skate recreationally or for fitness as well as inline skaters.
“They remember skating as a kid and liking it as exercise,” she said. “A lot of parents whose kids decide to skate, they want to go with them.”
Medusa Skates, 3515 Hyridge Drive, 512-203-7203, www.medusaskates.com
Hours: Tue., Thu. and Fri. noon-6 p.m.; Wed. noon-8 p.m.; Sat. 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; closed Sun.-Mon.