Industry Profile: Stepchild Snowboards Marketing & Design Sami Shams
21 Jun, 2012
Job Title: Marketing, design, development
Employer: StepChild Snowboards / Boozy the clown
Years on snow: 10 years or so. 2 years at Step.
Days on snow: as many as I can get
Currently Riding: Latchkey 48, Sleazy rider 152, union teams, 32 boots
Currently I am: Enjoying a Red stripe
Shay: Tell us a little bit about yourself
Sami: I was born in 88 just outside London, UK. Spent most of my growing up years London way, you get exposed to a lot of cool stuff when your in and around such an amazing city. I Started snowboarding when I was like 12 or something in Italy one Christmas on a family trip. Spent most of my early snowboarding years on the shitty dry slopes we had back home, these things would rip you to shreds when you fell. When I was 17 I left UK and did a couple of living stints in mainland Europe and in Queenstown, NZ, just to snowboard as much as possible, since then only really pass back through London. This time of the year I can be found either at home, record store or the pub.
Shay: How has snowboarding changed your life?
Sami: I guess it played a massive role in shaping my life. Got hooked on it from a young age and ended up moving all around the place to live like dirt just so I could snowboard constantly. Working shitty jobs like as a dishy in some random kitchen in the zillertal valley in Austria, lived with 11 amazing people in the 5 bedroom beer sponsored Dero palace, wouldn’t want to change any of it. I guess Snowboarding played a role in a bunch of factors in my life. Made a lot of great friends from it, live/lived in a bunch of cool places and got to experience a load of stuff. Its taken over a lot of my life up till now and hope it does for a long while, that’s because its fun as shit and team sports suck.
Shay: How did you get your start in the industry, who or what opened up more opportunities for you?
Sami: I used to get a few boards from Anton & Ben – UK StepChild guys – a ways back, had to have a few knee operations and so I had to mellow out, they then put me in touch with Scotty who does Operations/Holds it down at Step. I started off as a marketing and design intern, then at the end of my initial stay the guys decided to keep me onboard. It was pretty collective from everyone at Step, its a real tight family, Brad and Sean was stoked on what I was doing and they all wanted me to stay involved permanently.
Shay: How has your previous education or work experience helped you in your current job?
Sami: I think its like a mix of education, experience and who you are as a person. I guess my experience is still pretty youth compared to the majority of “industry” folk I’ve met, but that lets me look at things differently you know. University helped but not as much as getting involved with the StepChild crew. Sean Johnson/Boozy is mentor, having him guide me through work and life stuff really helped me more than the uni books and monotone lecturers did. Having the support of the crew has been the most important I’d say on all aspects from working life to personal youth/growing up shit.haha.
Shay: Tell us about your role as at Stepchild Snowboards and a description of the work you do?
Sami: We are a pretty small company here so I guess we all wear a lot of hats. I’m involved on a whole bunch of different levels, its cool to have the trust of the guys around – even though they tell me that I’m UK pikey rave scum, they’re just bitter. Haha. I generally focus on the design and development side of Step with Johnson and Keating,, I get to work with great artists, develop themes, concepts, drafts and do graphics for some boards. I’ve been putting a lot of focus on designing and developing the Softgood’s line recently because we are fed up with buying clothes. I also work on the marketing front, team stuff, Man-Ams and child support dirts, social media dribble, PR and product guides, web, print stuffs and Blunter which is our yearly magazine / catalog we put out. Its sort of jack of all trades master of fuck all. We all chip in on different tasks when needed, its a small show so we all pull our weight and then some to keep the Chi ship somehow afloat.
Shay: If you had to make up a job title that most accurately described what you REALLY do, what would it be?
Sami: Marketing and Design and pissing off keating.
Shay: Describe the craziest day/moment you’ve had at your job?
Sami: Dealing with the cops after the hotel called them to come kick me out at like 4am during SIA week. It was all pretty blurry those hours but I got the full story at breakfast the morning after. Good times. Think that’s when I got hired too.
Shay: What are some memorable experiences from working in the industry?
Sami: Think I’ll always remember the first time I saw the boards I’d done the graphics for, that was pretty amazing. Also not only meeting the guys I look up to but working next to them is still something amazing, JP, Johnson,,.
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?
Sami: Snowboarding is in real weird spot right now. Ski companies, energy drinks and crazy Corporations that all don’t give a fuck about the sport have taken a lot away from the smaller core brands. These corporations have jumped into the industry to take as much money as they can out from the sport and not put it back in. They want to seem “cool” and “core” behind their million dollar marketing budgets and its a total fucking joke. Every snowboard company pretty much has a binding, boot, outerwear, goggle and lingerie program – revenue streams over getting it right. You see a load of companies constantly manipulating their styles to suit what the “cool” current trend is and I call bullshit on the whole thing.
I think the smaller brands are slowly starting to gain more support again, us brands who care more than just about making a cheap chopstick covered in market tricky. I would like to see an increasing support for companies that are independently owned and also for local snow and skate stores. The market needs to stop buying into shitty marketing ploys and look deeper into their board, where its from and the people who are actually behind that brand. But I guess without Red Balls we wouldn’t have had that movie about helicopters and shit.
Shay: What advice would you give to people wanting to work in the industry?
Sami: It shows when you do something for the passion of it and not just for the paycheck. Keep grinding, go snowboard as much as you can, enjoy yourself, surround yourself with good peoples and have fun. That’s some pretty shitty advice but maybe in a couple of years time il have more. StepChild or Die.