Luminaries | International Women’s Week

Introducing the Luminaries Series and our tribute to the women in snowboarding

As a team, we’ve been thinking about this for a while, and we’re done with the idea of a specified day to virtue signal and just pay lip service to women. We understand and appreciate the concept of International Women’s Day, but a day isn’t enough. Heck, a week isn’t enough either, but it’s a start. It’s an opportunity for us to be vocal about the successes and failures of empowering and inspirational women, who have worked their ass off to be where they are now. We should do this 365 days a year.

“Let us preface this by saying this week isn’t about comparing men and women”

Let us preface this by saying this week isn’t about comparing men and women. It’s not a competition and we won’t be trampling on anyone to elevate anyone else. Our new Luminaries Series is about shining a light on some of the most inspirational people in our industry, documenting their rise in their given professions, and sharing some of their insights from along the way.

Stella and Joy. Pic: Mike Brindley.

Working in media, especially over the past year or so, where the fabric of work has shifted to become more digital, people can often become faceless entities working away behind a screen. So, we thought seeing as this is our tribute to women in snowboarding, we’d take a minute to introduce ourselves as the women of Whitelines. Currently, two thirds of Whitelines editorial team identify as female, so here’s a little bit of backstory on us…

Joy. Pic: Mike Brindley.


“How the fuck did I get here?” I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve woken up filled with existential dread saying that… But as for my career, I’ve been working in the snowboard industry since I was 17, learning the ropes as a bug-eyed shop kid while still at school. I ended up dropping out of university and booking a one-way ticket to the mountains and spending the next few years in Italy and Austria as a groady seasonaire.

Eventually, once I was semi-jaundiced and days away from scurvy I moved back to London and picked up a job at the UK’s finest bricks and mortar establishment – The Snowboard Asylum.

Joy. Pic: Mike Brindley.

I remember the first time I was acutely aware of the sexism that existed within the industry. A guy came in looking to buy a snowboard, I chatted with him for a bit, but after a minute he cut me off and said to an older colleague of mine, a big Finnish guy, “Is that true, does she know what she’s talking about?” and being the top banana he is, Lauri growled back “Yeah, she just fuckin’ told you man”.

“I definitely didn’t take the most conventional route into this job, but I think that’s kinda what makes it so rad”

I knew what I was talking about, so it was a bit of a kick in the ‘nads. Except it wasn’t, because I didn’t have them. Which was kind of the point… I’m not saying things like that are the norm, but they do still happen and though 99% of my experiences working in snowboarding are positive, there are some mouth breathing fart suckers who still think it’s a good ol’ boys club.

The UK snowboard scene is notoriously tight knit, and over the years I’d picked up friends, contacts, and mortal enemies at Whitelines, who happened to be hiring writers at a time I was looking for a job with some more stability. Despite my total non-grasp of the basic rules of grammar, and my complete inability to take anything seriously, as they say, the rest is history and I’ve spent the last two years playing verbal tennis with our readers and arm wrestling anyone and everyone at industry events.

Joy. Pic: Mike Brindley.

I know that I’m incredibly lucky to have this platform, and I want to use it to speak about meaningful issues, as well as writing scathing piss takes about things that tickle me. I definitely didn’t take the most conventional route into this job, but I think that’s kinda what makes it so rad. I’m probably not the ideal role model for young women, or anyone for that matter, but if nothing else, my story will show you that with enough genital-based humour and a flagrant disregard for the rules of journalism you can achieve anything.

Stella. Pic: Mike Brindley.


“How did I get where I am now? I’m honestly not sure. While I was studying Economics and Business at university in Finland (my home country), I was given the chance to study in some of the best business schools around the globe for one semester as part of an exchange program.

I decided to use the semester abroad as a chance to learn to snowboard (and study), hence why I chose to go to Innsbruck, Austria. Anyone reading this needs no explanation of how snowboarding has the ability to make you alter your entire life plan in the name of sliding sideways. One semester turned into two. Two semesters turned into enrolling for a Masters at the University of Innsbruck.

Stella. Pic: Mike Brindley.

It didn’t take me long to realise that I’d found a world where I actually felt comfortable being myself, and that in itself was an incredibly good feeling. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense – I wanted to work in the snowboard industry.

“It’s about us being able to speak up about things through snowboarding”

I applied to almost every single brand, company, organisation and publication in the industry. It soon became apparent how few job opportunities were available until one day Ed Blomfield, former editor of Chief of Whitelines, wrote me back.

I knew I had to pursue it. I accepted a role as an intern for Whitelines for six weeks but remained hellbent on getting a full-time job with the magazine one day. Several months after the internship came to a close, a job for an editorial assistant opened up. And here we are…

Was this the plan? No. I remember when I told my mum that I’d been offered the job at Whitelines and her initial reaction was “Are you going to get paid for it?”

Yes, mother. Snowboard journalism is a real thing.

Stella. Pic: Mike Brindley.

But that’s the thing. People think it’s just about posting the next sick edit or pushing the latest and greatest gear — which it is! But there’s so much more to it than just that. It’s about us being able to speak up about things through snowboarding. Whether it’s the broader political and social issues, or shining a light on some of the inspirational people who make our community all the brighter, this is our way to make a difference.

I know that as an industry snowboarding is still very much male-dominated and sexism occurs here just as it does in any other industry. We’ve still got a long way to go to reach equality. But it’s also important to take stock of where we are and how far we’ve come. I think we’re pretty awesome and we need to remember to celebrate that every day of the year.

Joy and Stella. Pic: Mike Brindley.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve spent countless hours chatting to women in every sphere of the snowboard industry, from big-name riders to young up and comers, creative media matriarchs to dominating businesswomen, badasses behind the scenes and tireless frontline activists.

“This is a time to empower each other and we want to make it full of positives”

We wanted to pay tribute to some of the trailblazers who have fought tooth and nail to allow us to be here and highlight some of the rockstars that’ll elevate women’s snowboarding to new heights. We wanted to tell the stories of these women and highlight their achievements, without reducing them to just their accomplishments.

Stella and Joy. Pic: Mike Brindley.

We’re going to be dropping articles, interviews, Q&A’s and video parts full of inspiring women throughout the week. This is a time to empower each other and we want to make it full of positives. However, we can’t ignore the fact that this industry is still super male-dominated and that we still consciously have to make an effort to be heard. We’re not where we want to be just yet, but we’ve sure come a hell of a long way.

The guys we work with are great, but our Editor, Rob, and the rest of the team wanted to hand us the reins for this one. So, from all of us to you, we hope you enjoy engaging with this issue as much as we enjoyed making it.

Big love,
Stella, Joy & The Whitelines Crew x


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