Check In: Circe Wallace
We catch up with one of the most influential figures in global action sports: Circe Wallace.
Circe Wallace is the real deal. She’s an agent, a producer, a former pro and a true believer in snowboard culture. I caught up with her to chat about the challenges of being an agent and her thoughts on the current state of women’s snowboarding.
What are the difficulties trying to get snowboard companies and athletes to buy into the idea of having an agent?
If you as an athlete think that you’re intellectually equipped to negotiate with the biggest businesses in the world, without someone to advocate for you, explain contract law and advise you to avoid the challenges and maximize your window of opportunity, then all the power to you. But I know I can help any athlete with the potential to do great things, be better. I’ve been doing this for 14 years and worked with some of greatest talents of their time and I’ve helped build stars. Some people will probably say they’re afraid of me, but that’s the ultimate compliment. It means I’m doing a good job of advocating for my athletes. I strongly feel I have a level of integrity and awareness of what is in the individual’s best interest. I know I’m helping these athletes make the most of their careers. The athletes I want to work with know they can’t do it all. They are focused on what they are doing on hill and have great ideas, but realize no one can do everything on their own.
So it comes down to navigating both the snowboard and business worlds?
You’re dealing with billion dollar corporations with savvy legal departments and they send you a contract and hope you sign it. If an athlete signs a contract without understanding the implications, it’s negligence of their own career. We get opportunities at our agency where people ask, “Hey we need a snowboarder for this campaign. Do you know anyone?” They just know they need someone good, and if they call me they’re going to get it. Having someone who’s advocating for you beyond the core marketplace is going to bring you more opportunity.
How do you balance working with traditional snowboard companies and the more corporate brands?
There are challenges on both sides. The endemic brands don’t want to deal with an agent and that can be challenging. For me that is the easy stuff, I’ve created relationships and have a certain level of respect in the industry because I’ve been here the whole time. There are some corporations that have been in the game for a really long time and do get it. There’s always tension, but that’s part of the job. It’s a challenge and that’s why I love it.
What’s your view on the current state of women’s snowboarding?
In snowboarding we have been so lucky. We didn’t have to fight for our right to be recognized or have lucrative endorsement opportunities. If you’re winning or getting video parts you can make a good living. In snowboarding, women have a ton of opportunity and if they manage their careers properly can make a living and follow their dreams. With that being said, I certainly think the endemic market could do more. Companies that have strong women’s programs have a responsibility to continue to develop female talent and support the iconic women in the sport. When budgets get cut, women’s marketing tends to be the first thing to go. There are exceptions, like Roxy, who are extremely supportive of their athletes and set a great example. But I would challenge each and every brand to continue to nurture that really important consumer.
Check out this video of Circe and Nicolas Müller discussing the rise of the snowboard industry.