Interview with 180 Skateboarding founder Tracey
Article by Lena N.
Up and newcomer to the business world, Tracey Gibson is smart. She's
turning her passion for skateboarding into a line of work. Beginning with an innovative spark of an idea, within
a year, she built her own after shool skateboarding program for girls and boys. Located in Manhatten Beach with instruction
located at the Manhatten Beach Teen Center, her after school program is an incredible opportunity to learn how to skate in
classes divided according to age and ability level. The skate program is also taught by professional skaters like Alex
White, Bo-Yee Poon, Gus Song, and with special guest instructors like Lisa Whitaker and Vanessa Torres! Today, she's
working harder then ever. With a new skate session kicking off this September, I got to catch up with Tracey and ask
her some extremely awkward retrospective questions for her one year anniversary of 180 Skateboarding. Enjoy.
your name, age, years you've been skating, and skate stance?
My name is
Tracey Gibson, I'm 26 and I've been skating for about a year and a half, but I took nine months off to heal from an injury.
So I've really only been skating for 9 months. I skate regular.
What and/or who motivated you to start an all female skate school?
OP Girls Learn to Ride motivated me to start a skate school. It was
a week before I was going to my first skate clinic, and I was so excited that I couldn't sleep. So I was laying in my
bed thinking about how great it was going to be to learn how to skate in an all-girls atmosphere. And I kept thinking
how awesome it would be if they would do it every week. Or if they did it everyday, I would go after work. I had
been looking online for other skate clinics around the country and couldn't find any that had any after-school programs.
So I got out of bed and looked one last time, and just decided to start my own.
What's it like trying to get sponsors? I heard it can be tough.
for a skate school/camp is totally different than getting sponsored as a skater, because as a skate instructor you meet with
a skate company's target market directly. Not only do you have influence over the kids, but also over the parents.
Skate companies know this and are eager to send out stickers, banners, and T-shirts to help promote their products.
However, there is a lot of work involved in getting in touch with the right people at the companies, and gaining their trust.
You've gone through a year of your program, what have you learned
and what plans do you have for the future?
So many things!
1.) Be cost effective--save every penny. 2.) Have a list of at least 15 instructors who can come in at the
last minute if one calls in sick--hey, skaters can be flaky. 3.) Follow-up with parents, kids, skaters and companies
4.) Rome wasn't built in a day--this shit takes time to grow. Plans for the future? Progressing in everything
I do in regards to skating and the biz. I've also proposed after-school programs and camps to two other cities that
are very interested, and I've started a boys after-school program and a co-ed summer camp.
What's the best part of your job?
Seeing the look on kids faces when they learn something new; knowing that
I've helped them achieve their goal.
Any last comments, thank yous or shout outs?
Even though it's been a rough Spring and Summer, I've learned a
tremendous amount about having your own business. However, I wouldn't even be half as far as I am today without help
from girls like you Lena, Lisa Whitaker, Alex White, Bo-Yee Poon, Skate shops in the South Bay and advice from guys
at the skate companies. And an extra special thanks to OP Girls Learn to Ride Director, Mark Sperling.