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Disco roller skates take off after woman repurposes rentals into 'Moon Boots'

Adrienne Cooper was stuck with 500 roller skates after the pandemic prevented her disco roller rink from opening, so she repurposed them.

After the Covid-19 pandemic torpedoed Adrienne Cooper's plans to open a disco roller rink in Tennessee, she was stuck with 500 rental skates. 

Finding herself in a situation where some might throw up their hands, Cooper pivoted.

She had her rental skates redesigned into three sleek, new colors and branded them "Moon Boots," launching a social media campaign on Instagram to generate buzz.

Adrienne Cooper.
Adrienne Cooper.NBC News

After months of promoting the Moon Boots, they went on sale online at midnight May 15.

"That night we sold almost every pair," Cooper said. "We made over $200,000 in one day."

She woke up her husband in the middle of the night, telling him, “Hey, you have to quit your job because I have to literally start a company tomorrow.”

Cooper's experience exemplifies the entrepreneurial spirit unleashed by the pandemic as people look for new ways to make a living in an ever-shifting economic landscape.

For Cooper, turning to roller skating was a no-brainer. Her grandmother once worked at a Chicago Skates factory, her aunts took her skating as a child, and her 11th birthday party was held at a roller rink. Since then, Cooper had dreamed of opening a rink of her own. 

After serving in the Navy, Cooper worked at a catering company with the skating idea always on her mind.

“I was working full time, and any ounce of spare time that I had, I spent trying to pursue my goal of opening an adult brick-and-mortar skating rink that served beverages and had a nightlife vibe,” she said.

In spring 2019, Cooper went for it, leaving her catering job and founding Moonlight Roller. Her plan was to start small, renting out skates at pop-up events in Chattanooga and surrounding areas. Eventually, when she had enough capital, she would open her own skate palace.  

But after she poured her life savings into Moonlight Roller, the pandemic hit, and she said all she had left was “about 500 pairs of rental skates that we designed and nowhere to use them.”

Exterior of Moonlight Roller.
Exterior of Moonlight Roller.NBC News

Almost two years later, Moonlight Roller is thriving. It raked in $4.5 million in gross revenue in the first year since the launch of the Moon Boot, and the company's on track to make roughly the same this year.

Cooper also opened a brick-and-mortar skate shop in Chattanooga, and she's in the process of establishing the roller rink of her dreams.

"We’re coming full circle," she said. 

Cooper, who is married and has a 4-year-old son, credited her time in the Navy with helping her succeed as an entrepreneur.

"The biggest skill I learned from the Navy is discipline," she said. "Whenever you’re pursuing your own business, some days, you don’t wake up with all the motivation in the world.

"You’ve had multiple investors tell you no, people shoot down your ideas, and it can really suck the motivation and joy out of the project. But if you can maintain discipline and stick to a schedule, I think you can succeed."