When I started my first snowboard lesson at Xscape Castleford I never thought I would have the opportunity to become a sponsored rider, in fact it never even crossed my mind. Inspired by watching a young Jamie Nicholls hitting rails in the dome I knew I wanted to learn freestyle riding yet I had no idea what it would lead to.
My first ever sponsor was Subvert Boardstore which is a snowboard shop with stores located in Castleford and Manchester. Throughout my whole snowboarding journey these guys have been there for me, even when I have switched brand sponsors Subvert have always supported me and helped me progress to better things. Starting off with a shop sponsor is great, I think it works really well for both sides because if you are using products from their shop and people ask you about it then there’s a good chance they will then go and buy it from the shop. Snowboard shops are also great because they have contacts with lots of different brands, if a company is on the lookout for a new team rider they will know about it.
I spent a couple of seasons riding for Forum & Special Blend which was a dream come true, out of all the companies that were big on the scene Forum was my absolute favourite. They produced the best team videos every season and the boards and outerwear were amazing. The highlight of my time with them had to be doing dome laps in Holland with Stevie Bell & Cameron Pierce at the ‘F**k It’ movie premier.
People sometimes moan and say ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ Which is true to a certain degree, I didn’t know anybody to begin with though and to be honest I was a massive punter. The more people you meet the more connections you end up having and you just have to make an effort to talk to people. Yes opportunities will come to you if you are talented at what you do but there’s no harm in doing some networking and asking for advice from brand reps or shop owners. It can be daunting putting yourself out there but be confident and don’t play down your talents, you want to show a brand what you have to offer so it’s important to be honest about your riding style right from the start. I had a few no’s before I got a yes but they also gave me constructive feedback which really helped. If you love competing and entering every comp you can get to that’s great but if that’s not your thing and your more into making dome edits or updating your instagram that’s great too. Companies want to reach a wider audience so being different isn’t a bad thing, they might already have a team rider than is a gymnastic double cork slayer but that doesn’t mean they won’t consider recruiting a rail/jib rider.
Things have changed a lot over the years, I feel like competitions used to mean everything and they were the ultimate gage for who the best riders in the UK are but social media has completely changed that. Short rail edits and shots that show you actually using a companies products are really helpful for them to use as promotion.
If you do end up picking up sponsors I think it’s really important to learn about the kit you use, ask the rep/team manager questions about your setup or research it online. People will start to message you and ask for your opinion on stuff and it’s always good if you can give a detailed response instead of just it’s rad. I recently tested out a whole range of boards that I wouldn’t normally pick up but I wanted to make sure that if someone asked me about a certain board then I would be able to give them helpful advice about it.
Be nice on social media! A longgggg time ago I ‘liked’ someone else’s comment on facebook in an arguement- no I didn’t actually write anything I just liked somebody else’s comment which lead to a massive backlash with other people getting involved, it even went as far as my sponsors because the person took it that badly! Obviously this is extreme and immature (over something stupid) but sometimes you have to think about who is actually seeing what you do on facebook.
Competitions are still a good way of getting your name out there too but don’t think it’s the end of the road to sponsorship if you can’t make it to many of them. I hope this has given a bit of an insight into things, obviously it’s different for everyone and I never pursued a career in snowboarding I just love doing it and working with companies to help encourage more girls into the sport.
I’ve been really lucky to meet some amazing people through snowboarding and it’s been great to be part of such an awesome community!