Industry Profile: Sandbox & Whitegold Snowboards Owner Kevin Sansalone
28 Sep, 2010
Job Title: ex pro snowboarder, owner of Whitegold Snowboards, Sandbox Films and Sandbox Brain Bucket Helmets. I also do some really cool consulting for Nike 6.0 in Canada.
Years on snow: This will be my 24th season.
Days on snow: Wow, that’s a bit of math for me. Maybe average around 3000 days on hill in my lifetime.
Currently Riding: Snowboards from the Whitegold collection
Currently I am: In China working on the new Sandbox helmets.
Kevin Sansalone at Bella Coola Heli Sports testing the new woody for the first time.
Photo: Brad Silverberg (GoPro Camera)
Shay: Tell us a little bit about yourself
Kevin: Well I’m 35 years old from Whistler BC. I like to skate, snowboard and surf. I also enjoy filming and producing surf and snowboard videos.
Shay: How has snowboarding changed your life?
Kevin: Snowboarding has allowed me to travel the world and meet so many cool people. It has also allowed me to make a living from something I love to do, this is pretty special.
Rider: Kevin Sansalone testing the new woody boards in the Whistler Backcountry.
Photo: Jussi Grznar
Shay: How did you get your start in the industry, who or what opened up more opportunities for you?
Kevin: It was a pretty natural progression for me from pro rider to working in the industry. I have always been very injury prone so I started to film more and edit videos when I wasn’t able to ride cause of injury. This naturally progressed into producing more films and taking the films more seriously. Then recently when looking for a better looking and more low profile helmet for our riders to wear while filming I discovered we could make a really cool helmet. Now we are making some killer helmets that kids are stoked on.
Shay: How has your previous education or work experience helped you in your current job?
Kevin: I took some marketing and business courses during the fall semester at a local college in North Vancouver after high school. It was really fun stuff to do before the winter season started.
Shay: Tell us about your role at Sandbox and a description of the work you do?
Kevin: I produce and direct the films with my partner Clayton. I try to ride a little more these days and film a little less… when I’m not injured. Clayton is my main man behind the films. Clay is the main filmer, he edits the whole movie. I do all the helmet stuff with my girlfriend Mel. We do all the design, sales and even the production now. Mel also does all the graphic design for the film, all the ads, box cover, posters etc…
Shay: What’s an average day like at work for you?
Kevin: Depends what time of year it is or where we are. If we are in Whistler and there’s fresh snow we will go shred for a few hours first thing in the morning and then come home and work away all afternoon and evening. If we are out on the coast of Vancouver Island we will maybe surf first thing and then work all day and try to have another surf in the evening. Work can be anything from planning film trips to talking to the helmet factory in China.
Shay: What are some memorable experiences from working in the industry?
Kevin: Just all the cool people I’ve met and all the travel. It’s cool to see guys that I shredded with back in the day and they are working in the industry too and we can hang at the shows or go shred or skate and talk about work stuff or the old days, haha. I went to ISPO this year in Munich and got to catch up with Joni Makinen. We rode together a lot back in our Option days and I hadn’t seen him forever. This summer I got to hang out with Dave Lee from Signal, we also used to travel together years ago.
Shay: What do you think are the biggest challenges that the snowboard industry faces and what changes would you like to see for the future?
Kevin: There are a lot of crazy changes going on in our industry right now. It’s sad to see how badly DVD sales have dropped off and how little support there are for film makers. The distribution is so bad and the kids are just ripping everything off the torrent sites. Really sad actually cause we film these videos in HD out in the beautiful big backcountry and it’s rare that people get to see these films on a good HD TV or in a theatre. Everything is going digital. I think it would be cool to see more cities and mountain towns doing film festival type of events where people can come and see our films on the big screen. Run a week of films and get everyone amped up for the winter season and get them amped up to go support some film makers and buy a few new videos. I also hate to see all the rip off designs out there. Seems like a lot of brands are just biting shapes, graphics and designs from other brands. Some of the factories overseas are just letting this happen and don’t care to protect the designs.
Shay: Education vs Experience…which do you think is more important?
Kevin: I think a healthy balance of both. You need the street smarts that come with experience but it’s also nice to be able to articulate and communicate what you want to accomplish in a professional way. It’s tough to do business in our industry no matter how much experience or education you have. We do a lot of business with friends which is tough and we are all very passionate about what we do because this is a lifestyle industry and so many of us live and breath our work. So when we get in a jam or we get into conflicts we sometimes act on passion and it can get you into trouble. Especially when you’re working on your own business.
Kevin Sansalone in the heli at Bella Coola Heli Sports
Self Portrait (GoPro Camera)
Shay: What advice would you give to people wanting to work in the industry?
Kevin: Follow your passions or interests and try to find a fit for these interests with a brand or in a market that you really like.
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