Atlanta mom builds brand to keep roller skating world moving
For the last 20 years, the roller skate community poured into Gloria Downs.
Now, she’s making sure she returns the favor.
The Atlanta-based skate instructor started the group Each 1 Teach One two years ago to provide a bridge between the new and older generations of roller skaters.
E1T1 started as lessons and workshops designed with this concept in mind, but now it’s becoming a movement.
“The name means everything only because each one should be able to teach one at some point,” said Downs, who started skating as an alternative to the nightlife and social options available to her when she was 20.
Downs, who is now 40 and a mom of two teenage daughters, observed somewhat of a gap between various age groups of skaters, which inspired her to start the program. It creates a comfortable learning environment.
She was already teaching skate informally, so E1T1 became a natural avenue to address different generations, empower others to skate and explore additional facets of the culture — such as business.
A bonus for her is that her oldest daughter Justice Bell gets a front seat to the action. Bell, 17, started skating a couple of years ago. Lucky for her, her talented mother has been her teacher.
“We spend a lot more time together,” Downs said about how skating has bonded the two. “We travel more. She gets to see a lot more…from a business aspect and a political aspect of the skate world, see what you can do from an activity that you love.
“Now she gets to see that you don’t have to just skate. You can build from that. You can build a business. You can build a brand. You can build all these different things and have more of an influence in the skate world.”
In addition to E1T1, Downs started Rollerfit ATL skate lessons and the Each One Teach One Prints brand. The print shop provides skaters with merchandise bearing the recognizable E1T1 logo, and it offers custom print options for businesses.
Skaters outside of Atlanta have proudly donned shirts from the shop, especially since Downs travels for workshops and has an influence reaching beyond the city.
“I just want to give back everything that was given to me,” she said. “It was a lot of people who did that out of the kindness of their hearts — no charge. I soaked it all in. If anybody else is willing to receive the same things, I just want to give them the same thing, keep the skate world moving.”