When’s the last time you saw a group of 15 girls riding together, and not to mention totally ripping? I think most of us can say we never have. Hell, I don’t even know 15 other girls that I’d want to hang out with all at once! Luckily for me, that all changed about 2 years ago when I was invited to join the Ladies Ride Collective, a really cool women’s focus group put together by Ride Snowboards.
The Ladies Ride Collective is a group of about 15 girls and includes shop employees, buyers, instructors, Ride employees and even pro riders from all over the United States. The group started 2 years and the goal of it is simple, let real women who snowboard impact the design, graphics and functionality of the women’s product available. Sound pretty obvious? It may be, but unfortunately the snowboard industry is predominately male. Plenty of product gets designed for women by men who think they know what women are looking for. Ride however, doesn’t want this to be the case.
So how does the Ladies Ride Collective combat this? Well, the agenda of the group is simple. Each year in early March we all meet up in Seattle where Ride Snowboards is based out of. We drive up to the Cascades, take some much needed turns on next years equipment at Stevens Pass, and then spend a full day hanging out in a cabin in the woods discussing all the new product we just rode. It’s absolutely crazy riding with a group of 15 awesome female riders. The first year we did it, none of us had ever ridden with that many girls, let alone girls better than the dudes we ride with and we definitely turned heads. It truly always is a sight to see. Riding is obviously a blast, but we’re not just out there to play. When we get back to the cabin, we spend a full day covering every category from boards, boots and bindings to jackets, pants and gloves. We go through every model in the line and talk tech, graphics and marketing as well as any observations we bring from our individual channels. Of course we don’t always agree on everything especially coming from different backgrounds and regions, but its great see the difference in opinion of girls from all areas of the industry. We look for areas of opportunity for the brand as well as areas and opportunities with certain aspects of products that can increase the participation of female riders everywhere.
The following day we head back to Seattle and meet to product designers and engineers in each of the categories. This is where we relay our ideas and opinions, but also see future product that’s still in the design phases. That means that last year when we met up in March for example, we were in the 2010-2011 season, riding 2011-2012 gear (which is what’s on the market now) and looking at mock ups for 2012-2013 stuff. It’s crazy to think that when a board hits the market, it’s technically two years old already! As the event wraps up our participation does not. Throughout the summer months Ride designers and engineers send us survey’s and mock ups with options for the next years products. It’s really cool to see the different options in graphics, tech, and even the small details down to the fonts chosen for the logos. The end result is then womens product designed specifically for women, by women.