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Rian Rhoe On Her Career, Women In The Industry And What’s Up Next For Salomon and Bonfire


“Snowboarding changed my life. That’s a fact.”

Rian Rhoe portrait by Matty AlbertsWe recently caught up with Rian Rhoe, a.k.a Bonfire’s resident media magician and one-woman Public Relations ripper, who fell in love with snowboarding on her 15th birthday and hasn’t looked back. She got started in the industry as a contributing writer for Transworld and Future Snowboarding Magazine and later got hired by Bonfire in 2007. We caught up with Rian to learn how she got started in the industry, what she loves most about her job and to find out what Salomon/Bonfire does to stay green.

SIA: How did you get involved in the snowboard industry? What about Salomon/Bonfire?
Rian: I started snowboarding at 15 and by 17 was working at my local shop. A move to the mountains followed, along with being poor, snowboarding all the time, working at the resort, at shops, teaching, riding for local reps in my area, digging to ride for HCSC and getting hired as a digger & then coach, while pursuing a degree in journalism and communications. After graduation I started freelance writing and worked as a contributing writer for Transworld Snowboarding. I met the Bonfire crew through a local shop in Portland. I was always a fan of the brand and its deep roots in the Northwest shred scene.

Rian at Pipe to Pipe photo by Hau PhamSIA: What’s the best thing about your job?
Rian: Travel and the awesome people I work with.

SIA: It’s been 4 years since you joined the Salomon and Bonfire team, what have been the biggest lessons for you both personally and professionally?
Rian: The importance of teamwork is something I learn every day. We have a diverse crew with different perspectives and strengths– everyone brings a unique talent to the table. I am constantly learning from my coworkers, which is sweet.

I’ve also had to learn how to take mistakes in stride. I tend to want to do everything right the first time, which is pretty unrealistic. It’s how you react and respond that matters the most. I think being solution-oriented goes a long way.

Rian Bonfire product testingSIA: What are a few communications/marketing lessons that you can give out?
Rian: First and foremost, stay curious. I’m not naturally a tech savvy person, but I like people, which lead to a curiosity about Friendster, MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. The social media sphere is changing and developing so rapidly, a sense of curiosity is crucial to learning and moving forward. This is true in PR too. The people who I see making progress in marketing and communications are people who ask questions rather than jumping to conclusions.

SIA: How do you fit in riding with all of your responsibilities?
Rian: We make sure to take “Pow Days” when it’s dumping, so we remember why we work in the industry in the first place.

SIA: Where’s your favorite place to ride?
Rian: Mt. Hood Meadows and Courmayeur, Italy.

SIA: Overall feelings about the 2010.11 Season (industry/company)? Lows and highs? What’s up for next year?
Rian: It’s been amazing to see the recent transformation of Salomon as a brand in the US, with the team momentum, buzz at the summer camps and honors like winning the Transworld Team Shoot Out. I have more product requests from media and industry insiders each season and spend 1/3 of my time on Twitter responding to requests from riders looking to buy our products. The tide is slowly turning and the future is looking bright. For 11-12 we will put more resources and actions into engaging kids on the floor and on the Internet. Half of our marketing team comes from a retail background and we recognize the crucial role kids on the floor play in selling our products. Rian in Italian Alps

SIA: What do you think is the biggest challenge for women in the industry?
Rian: Balancing work and family life is probably one of the biggest challenges that women in the industry face, but I think that is true in most industries. Bonfire has always been very family-oriented and supportive and I think that is crucial for success in the modern workplace.

Women are also a minority in terms of participation numbers and products purchased. This impacts many aspects of the way the industry functions. It’s an evolution. There is more diversity among women in snowboarding now than ever before and I see that as a good thing.

SIA: Spring/Summer plans?
Rian: Spring plans: Ride pow at Hood, it’s still snowing! Summer Plans: Bonfire Pipe to Pipe July 10th and shredding at HCSC & Windell’s, biking around Portland, BBQ’s… the good life.

Sick Stick and Man's BoardSIA: In honor of Earth Day, Tell me about some of Salomon/Bonfire green efforts/products?
For Salomon we focus our efforts in our GIFT (Green Initiative for Tomorrow) project as part of our product line and through reducing packaging, recycling in our offices, and significantly reducing our Eco Impact at Trade Shows through partnering with Greenspace, who builds our booth out of reclaimed or recycled materials and goes to great pains to reduce waste and make sure we’re reducing our impact on the environment we appreciate, all winter long. They are awesome!

Even in my PR efforts, if I can send a journalist a product to test that is already in their local area, I’ll try to make that happen before shipping something from a different part of the country. This isn’t marketing; it’s just a sensible way to do things if you can. Our Portland office is usually full of bikes as many of us commute to work that way.

As far as product goes, the Eco Award winning Sick Stick, Grip, Answer and Ivy are part of our GIFT Project, along with next season’s Man’s Board and Idol.

As part of Salomon Snowboards Green Initiative For Tomorrow (GIFT) project, the new Mans’ Board takes a step forward in environmentally conscious construction methods. The Green Ghost wood core is harvested from FTC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified wood.
Fiberglass and resin are significantly reduced through the use of Bamboo Laminates, paired with Ghost XY Basalt Stringers for added pop and long lasting flex. Sidewalls are a combination of Bamboo and Cork, rather than ABS plastic, further reducing the use of rubber and plastic.

SIA: Anything else to add?
Rian: Snowboarding changed my life. That’s a fact.