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Meet Aislinn Munck of Home Ice in Brighton

Today we’d like to introduce you to Aislinn Munck.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I’m originally from Helena, MT and since the age of 5, I have been absolutely obsessed with figure skating. This was not always an easy sport to pursue in Montana because there are only a few ice rinks in the entire state, all of which are open only for hockey season. There were many times I would drive up to 6 hours for a couple hours of ice time. The Summer I graduated high school, I was offered a contract with Disney on Ice and I jumped at the opportunity.

I was able to travel the world, work with people who were just as passionate about skating as myself, get my degree online all while getting to play dress up and do the one thing I love most. It was literally a dream come true. I skated with Disney for 6 years and after several significant injuries I knew it was time to retire.

My transition from a Disney performer to a Bostonian was very serendipitous. I was sent home from tour after tearing several ligaments in my foot and I saw a job listing to manage a skating store in Boston called Skaters Landing. I have always wanted to live in Boston. Unlike where I grew up, Boston has a very unique relationship with ice skating. Whether you’re considering the loyalty of the Bruins fans or the multiple Olympians that have emerged from the historic Skating Club of Boston, this city is a haven for skaters. There are more ice rinks within a 15 minute drive from my shop than there are in the entire state of Montana.

I moved here and managed Skaters Landing (which is a Connecticut based company) for a little over a year and then very recently, I bought out my store location and renamed it Home Ice.

The slogan for Home Ice is: “because the ice IS our home”. This means everything to me. My entire life I have been traveling and searching for Ice. When I was growing up in Montana, I would happily jump in a car and drive 300 miles just to feel the ice under my feet: it was what brought me comfort. Similarly, when I skated with Disney, it didn’t matter where I was in the world or what language the songs were played in, as soon as I was on the ice, I was home. I want my store to be a tribute and a celebration to all who share this passion for ice, no matter what their level or ability is.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Overall, my road has been smooth and met with incredibly supportive and loyal customers. While I have only been a business owner for several months, I am eager to see where the next few years take me.

Considering obstacles I have faced:

I sometimes find that my age and gender is not always what people expect when they’re looking for someone to mount and sharpen their skates. I have to admit that looking back at my own skating career, I never had my skates sharpened by a girl until I learned to do so myself. If you were to consider what a stereotypical skate technician looks like: it’s usually a middle aged man with a hockey background and callused hands.

I’ve actually enjoyed breaking the “skate guy” mold. I think a power drill looks better in manicured hands and safety goggles can make a bold fashion statement when encrusted in Swarovski stones!

I don’t know if I would consider being a young woman in the industry an obstacle, but rather an opportunity. Boston at 5 pm.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Home Ice – what should we know?
What remains my most important value as the owner of Home Ice is that I always have been and always will be a skater. Even if I don’t skate professionally any more, I am never far from the ice. Throughout the year I skate at the Skating Club of Boston, MIT, Harvard, Veterans Memorial in Somerville, Ed Burns in Arlington and several others. I want skaters to know that I share their discomfort with blisters, and know the difference between skating on the soft ice at SCOB versus the hard dry ice in Somerville. Personal experience is everything in this industry and I can never get enough of it.

This is also important to me because the style and design of skates and blades is always changing. I own several pairs of skates and am always eager to test new products. I want to know with absolute certainty how a new product will perform before I encourage customers to buy it. As of now, I have one employee who works with me on the weekend who is also a former competitive skater. She’s a phenomenal asset to have in the store because she is so passionate about sharing her love and knowledge of the sport with every customer she helps.

My main objective with customers in the store is to educate. Ice skating is one of those sports than many people want to become involved in, but don’t know how to get started. It’s not something we learn about in PE class like soccer or football. There is so much to learn just about the equipment and maintenance side of this sport that so many people are unaware of, which can make their skating experience uncomfortable or worse, incredibly dangerous.

For this reason, in order to buy skates or sharpen, I operate on an appointment system. To buy skates is incredibly different than buying shoes. There are hundreds of different models, but it is crucial that the skate you buy is fitted properly and an appropriate match for your level. Certain skate brands are better for wide feet/versus narrow feet or high arch versus flat arch, etc. Different brands also have different sizes. People often make the mistake of buying skates on Amazon not realizing that their shoe size is not what their skate size is.

I don’t ever want a customer to come into my store, buy some skates that “seem ok” without spending at least 30 minutes with myself or an employee to guarantee the skate is fitted and adjusted correctly.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Patience and kindness.

You have to be patient and empathetic to customers. I have some skaters who will buy a pair of skates and come back every single day for a month needing things adjusted: stretching here, added padding there, move the blade slightly to the inside, etc. etc. Everyone’s foot is different and everyone’s skating goals are different.

I never want a customer to feel like their value to me depletes right after I swipe their card and they sign the receipt. I’m not here to make money, I’m here to help people develop their own special and unique relationship with the ice. The money just helps keep the lights on 😉

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