Industry Profile: Backcountry.com Women’s Merchandise Emily “Milly” Wallace
04 Jul, 2008
Shay: So tell us about yourself?
Milly: My name is Emily “Milly” Wallace. I am 25 and I live for anything that gives me an adrenaline rush. I shattered my back a few years ago and every day I try to live life as full as I can with the use of my legs. I love snowboarding, mountainboarding, kiteboarding, rock climbing, kayaking, hiking and running. These are the things that make me smile and make me feel fulfilled in life.
Shay: What is your job title?
Milly: Women’s Softgood Merchandise Division Coordinator. I started out as a gearhead, then moved to a gearhead supervisor, then moved up to my current position.
Shay: Did your parents question your job choice?
Milly: At this point in my life I think I have done enough questionable things that this was not anything they thought was too crazy. They were just glad that I was not working at a ski resort for minimum wage anymore. When I told them it can pay my monthly medical bills…they were stoked.
Shay: What was your first set up?
Milly: My brother got me a K2 Fat Bob 149cm and my dad got me K2 clickers and boots.
Shay: What is your current set up?
Milly: Well I have like 10 boards…but by far my favorite currently is: My Blue Skate Banana 149cm with Burton Escapade Bindings and Burton Sapphire Boots.
Shay: What was your first job?
Milly: A bagger at Safeway Grocery Store.
Shay: What’s a great day of snowboarding to you?
Milly: Any day that I do not take snowboarding for granted, I am smiling and having the time of my life. There is no particular conditions this happens in. But I sure LOVE a great powder day over any other day.
Shay: Who are your influences?
Milly: Well there are always those pros that have great style in what they do and conduct themselves so well that you look up to. But my real influences are my family and friends who support me and tell me all the time “I can do it.”
Shay: How long have you been snowboarding?
Milly: 8 Seasons
Shay: How many days do you get to ride a year?
Milly: It can range. This year I got in around 80-90 days and still going and hiking and such. I have reached up to 250+ days in a season before.
Shay: What is your role at Backcountry.com as the women’s merchandise division coordinator?
Milly: I am in charge of how the site merchandise looks. I choose what colors are showing are the main color, where the product sits on the website, pricing, site taxonomy, promotions: picking the product to highlight and monitoring, assist buyers, watch trends and styles, watch when new product comes in and highlight it, work on gift with purchases, cross merchandising, catalog marking and many more things. Overall I try to merchandise the site to help the customer get the best experience, while getting optimal site conversion.
Shay: Anything coming out for women’s products that you are looking forward to?
Milly: Cila baselayers – I received some of their gear to test out and I am such a huge fan. My butt is never cold! Betty Rides Outerwear – great colors this next season! DC is coming out with a much better women’s line of gear. I am really stoked on the Roxy Torah Bright (The Eminence) Magne Traction Banana Technology board made by Mervin Manufacturing. I really think overall the women’s market is really taking off and women’s stuff is getting just as much respect and design as the men’s. I think the women’s stuff looks better and more stylish than the men’s stuff now!
Shay: What’s your favorite backcountry/dogfunk product?
Milly: My Betty Rides Siouxsie Pant and my Skate Banana!
Shay: Do you feel there is anything lacking in products for women?
Milly: At this point, I really think the market has filled all the lacking areas for women. I would like to see more women’s specific backpacks. They don’t make great women’s specific backcountry backpacks. Women have hips and different torsos than men and the women’s specific backpacks make all the difference when I am doing over night hikes and such.
Shay: I understand you co-manage the dogfunk myspace page. What’s your favorite part about that job?
Milly: Well, I am actually the only one running it now. It was really fun with my co-worker and we would go out and do lots of photo shoots and stuff. Now by myself I use the gearheads and other backcountry workers for help on gear reviews and such. But it is really fun to do. I get to help people pick out boards and whatever else they have questions on. Keep them informed on industry things that fit the dogfunk model, tell them about our rad sales/promotion, when the newest gear and clothes get in and so on. I get them involved in the sweepstakes we do and also get to put stickers in envelopes and mail them to people.
Shay: Do you encounter any weirdos on the dogfunk myspace?
Milly: Not really…just your average spammers every myspacer encounters.
Shay: Prior to backcountry.com, what other jobs have you had?
Milly: Pet stores, Brighton Ski resort, office jobs, grocery stores, Red Robin waitress, teaching mountainboarding and currently still do.
Shay: What’s your average day like at work?
Milly: Looking at weekly reports to see where my time is best spent and needs attention to improve. Check some fashion websites to make sure I know what colors are hot and in style, check vendors websites, check for pricing issues, go play ultimate frisbee or a snowboard break, then come back, work on promotions, email promotions, get out catalogs and do cross merchandising. It is hard because every day is different. The only thing that each day has in common is I work on merchandising the site every single day.
Shay: What are some memorable experiences from working at backcountry.com?
Milly: Getting to go shred at the DC Mountain Lab, winning a heli-boarding trip (to take next year), some of the friends I have made, my first time at Outdoor Retailer. Meeting some amazing people who have helped changed my life for the better!
Shay: How is working for Backcountry.com (any cool work events, work environment, job perks)?
Milly: It is a typical to any office job…but more relaxed environment. The merchandise dept is more 9-5 than some of the other depts. But overall, you are working with passionate people who share a common interest in life…that passion shows up in their work ethic and so on. We get to go play ultimate frisbee at least once a week at lunch. We do a huge “Adventure Contest” that takes places from May-October. The past 2 years I have won the most snowboarding days done from May-October company wide. I have also won the most hiking days one year and also the most reviews written on the site (430+ reviews).
Shay: What experience did you have or attributes before getting the job?
Milly: I had a love for outdoor gear. Computer experience from college and customer service skills from past jobs. My strong work ethic and passion for what I was going to be doing was key.
Shay: What’s the best perk you’ve gotten from your job?
Milly: DC Mountain Lab shredding, discounted season passes, free day passes, free gear, pro forms.
Shay: Any disadvantages of your job?
Milly: We have been slowly molded into a 9-5 job. I had my snowboard ride breaks taken away 2 times and I don’t think I will be able to do them next season…even though the Canyons is 3 minutes from our office.
Shay: Since you started working in the snowboard industry, what’s been the biggest change?
Milly: Style, Technology and molding the two together.
Shay: What’s the busiest time of year for you?
Milly: 4th Quarter…Christmas time/Winter time.
Shay: Education vs Experience…which do you think is more important?
Milly: Both. I am not sure I would be hired at another company to do what I do, because I do not have a “merchandising degree”, but when we are looking to hire new people…education or experience in the area of expertise is important. Both are killer awesome to have!
Shay: What advice would you give to people wanting to work in the snowboard industry in your job?
Milly: Work hard, never burn bridges, be a nice and good person, be genuine. It is a small industry and news can travel fast in the network. So treat others how you would like to be treated.
Shay: Final thoughts?
Milly: I love snowboarding clothing. I wish it were cold enough everywhere I went to wear them like casual clothes. Life is better wearing pom pom beanies everyday! I just hope that someone out there I am helping to dress more fashionably on the slopes and casually. No one wants to hook up with a gaper…
*photos compliments of Emily Wallace.