Cindy Zhou: Skate Invader

Our dear friend Cindy tells us about Gastrogasmic longboarding adventures in Israel last year, interning with Loaded Boards and her super rad Euro trip!

cindy2Good morning CANDY!
Morning Gbemi! Sorry I don’t have a nickname for you.

How is your weekend going
Great! I got to skate with the crew yesterday and today I’ll be seeing some last minute friends and packing for an adventure.

Still invading?
Of course! They’re my 2nd family.

What’s the next adventure?
Well, it all starts with a mini Eurotrip. I’ll be in Barcelona from May 27th- June 3rd (maybe Valencia for a few days) and Paris from June 4th-12th. From there, I’ll be living and interning in Portland for the rest of the summer for Adidas. Surprise! You got the exclusive.

Haha, let it sink in. It took me a solid 3 days to calm down from the news too.

Nussy Photo

Nussy Photo

BArCelONa! (can you see the BACON)?
Haha, damn… you are TOO clever. I hear Barcelona’s known for its nightlife? Either way, I’ll be able to see and skate with OPEN team-mates Eider and Cristina, so I’m stoked.

Wait. What? How do you know MY Eiderina?
Well, I’ve watched their videos from the start! (Marta does a kickass job on them) and last August, I got to meet them for real in Israel when we were shooting for LGC’s OPEN.

How did this Euro dream come true?
With the support of sponsors, parents, and the opportunity to collect media in Europe. Above all though, my BURNING DESIRE to visit Europe for the first time.

No KnK?
No skate events really lined up. Just people. All about the people.

What do you hope to find in Europe?
Good food, good people and a lot of rich history.

DO NOT bother with ”bacon”, Euro ham will do. You’re welcome.
Thanks. Mostly excited for the baguettes and cheese!

What will you be doing for Adidas?
I’ll be there as their Employer Branding & Digital Marketing Intern. It’s basically taking Web 2.0 concepts and applying them to human resources to further brand Adidas as a desirable employer.

The stars are aligning?
Definitely. It’s been a crazy couple of days finding all this out.



Adidas skateboarding sponsorship around the corner?
I think it’s going to take another couple of years for huge companies to really support longboarders. I feel most of them (Nike, Adidas, Red Bull etc) are still developing their core skateboard-related brands and don’t truly see the market or return on sponsoring longboarders yet. Just my opinion though.

Is there any return for Red Bull sponsoring a longboarder?
Potentially! I was actually in LA last week interviewing with Red Bull and we got to talking a bit about longboarding. I think in North America, you’ll see them continue to be open to event sponsorship and then promote those events through video afterwards. As for Red Bull sponsoring an individual, it’s tough to tell. It’s definitely possible but at this point, I think they still know too little about what makes up the industry and who the main influencers are within it. I think they need to do a bit more research on their end before they make any moves on sponsoring a longboarder.

Someone from Nike skateboarding is reading this. What do you want to say to them?
Hypothetically, I’d tell them that longboarding’s potential market growth is exponential. It has mass appeal, is viewed as a viable source of transportation and is seen as far more accessible than skateboarding. I’ve found that more females are prone to picking up longboarding than skateboarding. Same goes with older demographics who have never skated. There are a variety of reasons why this is the case but I would literally end up writing a whole essay if I elaborated.

Will the sport benefit from their money?
Yes. Here are my quick, general thoughts. More money = better run events (hopefully) = more prize money = riders getting supported = better calibre riders making it out to more events = better racing = growth and progression of sport. That’s just one train of thought.
Another is: more money = better coverage of events/riders = more online views and awareness of sport = market grows = shops/companies/events all benefit. There are infinite possibilities but the above are my quick 2 minute associations. Regardless, the sport can definitely benefit from more money if the money is allocated correctly!

What would be the downside to having these huge sponsors step in?
I think Marc Johnson said it best in his interview…

Here’s an excerpt:
“The reason that skateboarding footwear companies are in trouble right now is because some people said ‘Yes’ to Big Company Footwear. Some people decided to take that big check, then some more did, and then some more did after that. Those people, who took that check, gave Big Company legitimacy in OUR skateboarding industry. Certain pros have been paid a lot of money to endorse Big Company being involved in skateboarding, and kids have seen that and think, “Well if So-and-so is backing them, then it’s ‘cool’, right?”. Kids are growing up thinking that Big Company Footwear in skateboarding is normal. They don’t know that there was a time when skateboarding wasn’t popular and Big Company wouldn’t touch skateboarding with a 50-foot pole.”

Gel Shark

Gel Shark

Last time we spoke, you were gearing up for a summer with Loaded and finishing Business Management, how did that go?
Interning with Loaded was definitely an eye-opening experience. I got to witness the day-to-day operations of a hugely successful longboarding company. By the end of the internship, I really ended up appreciating their approach to product and community development. As for school, I just finished up my 3rd year and had a wildly different experience from my 1st and 2nd years. This was mainly due to my shift from working part-time to becoming heavily involved in school activities instead.

What was your typical Loaded day?
There was never really a “typical” day. If I had to describe a “structure”, it would basically be get into the office, check my email, see if we were filming or taking photos for anything that day… if so, Ethan or Adam and I would go do that. If not, I’d help out with social media content, research potential publications/events/people to collaborate with, help out in the finance department (filing, credit checks, etc), help in the warehouse, or help figure out logistics for an upcoming event (Maryhill FOS, Pier Concerts). Every day was different.

How did that internship help you figure out where you want to be in 5,10 years?
I realized that the longboard industry is small and that without experiencing other types of roles and responsibilities, I wouldn’t be able to add much value to a company like Loaded in the long-run. I knew I wanted to gain marketing insights from other companies in the sports industry so that I could maybe one day return to a company like Loaded and really help make a difference.

Did you do much skating last summer?
Never enough.

Any new friends?
Too many to name.

What other adventures did you have that summer?
With Loaded, I went up to Maryhill twice (once for the FOS and once for the Girls’ Freeride). I also went to Central Mass and Israel to film with LGC. Throughout the summer, I’d also go visit family in the Bay Area and skate there. That’s about it. The Loaded internship itself was an adventure since I got to live in Los Angeles.

Israel? How did that happen?
LGC and I were in the talks of doing another “Endless Roads” type film for a couple of months before it actually happened. I guess they met up with Da Silva longboards (guys from Israel) in Spain one day in the Summer, talked about their vision of filming a bunch of girls in a foreign country, and then made it happen! Monica, Jacky, and Valeria are like Superwomen.

“…longboarding has the ability to break down the barriers of culture, race, religion and politics; bringing people together.

What was the project about?
In my opinion, the project was about how longboarding has the ability to break down barriers of culture, race, religion, and politics and bring people together. We were 14 girls from different countries put in one of the most politically and religiously torn countries in the world and asked to skate!

How did the trip turn out?
Amazing! The spots were top-notch thanks to the DaSilva crew. The days were stressful but planned beautifully. The filmers were all masters at what they did. (Matt K follow runs are the best) All the girls were amazing in their own way.

Gnar skating?
Indeed. We had some of the best riders from each discipline. Katie for downhill, Micaela for freeride, Gina for tech sliding and a bunch more. I’m sure we’ve all gotten even better since the trip but the hope is that the storyline and cinematography will transcend time even if the skating becomes outdated.

What were the highlights of the trip?
Skating this downhill run that led to the Sea of Galilee. Freeriding with EVERYONE at ONCE. Freestyling on a rooftop in Old Jerusalem. Eating at a 5-star restaurant in Tel Aviv. Eating in this massive tent meant for Kibbutz. Eating in general. I promise it won’t be a gastronomic film. Haha.

Had you skated with any of the girls before this?
Surprisingly, a bunch. Marisa, Ishtar, Amanda, Micaela, Gina, and Cami were all girls I had met and skated with beforehand.

What impact do you hope the project has?
I’d love to see more girls get into the sport of longboarding and have longboarding companies see the value in backing more projects that showcase girls who shred! More so, I hope the film achieves what I originally thought the concept was… “longboarding’s ability to break down barriers of culture, race, religion, and politics and bring people together.”

Any idea when we’ll see it?
Sooner than later. I hope.

What did you get up to after Israel?
Went back to school, made it out to Broadway Bomb, and joined 2 rad student organizations related to sports and marketing.

Still on Loadrangatang/Caliber?
Yes, yes, and also G-Form!

What are your plans for the rest of the year?
The stuff I mentioned above! Travel, work, finish up school, and try to enjoy life to the fullest.

Zhou wow! Most pleasurable doing this interview thing with you again. Stoked you’re coming over here. Stay rad. Please leave me an invader sticker with Pai pai!

Any last words?
Discover your passions and don’t be afraid to chase your dreams!
A huge thanks to my mom, dad, stepdad, close friends, and sponsors. They have all given me countless opportunities to grow and develop as a person. I would be nothing without them.

Personal Website:
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DaSilva photos by the brother Ben Kaufman. <3