From Winfield, BC, to making the big move to San Francisco in the late ‘90s, Jessie Van Roechoudt lived the skate dream. I first learned of Jessie after seeing some photos of her in American magazines, back when it was super rare to see girls getting coverage; especially girls from Canada. Jessie is a legend in so many ways and is one of Canada’s first females to get a pro board. Let’s catch up with Jessie to see what she’s doing these days. — Rose Archie
Where you from and when did you start skating?
I was born and raised in the Okanagan Valley, between Kelowna and Vernon. I started skating when I was 10, but didn’t really get into it or see any mags or videos until I started high school. I skated at lunch with the kids in my school. Outside of school, I skated most with my friend Dan. We built sketchy ramps and explored for spots and stuff, but he went to a different school. I didn’t really have access to skate that much until I got my driver’s license. It wasn’t until I was 16 and got my license that I was able to really start skating a lot and going to decent spots.
You had a pro board for Rookie. What year was that and how did it come about?
Yeah, I rode for Rookie and had a pro board. I should have done that sooner, but in my mind I wanted to finish university and be full time skating before I had a board out. I’d talked to Elska [Sandor] and Catherine [Lyons] who ran Rookie—I’d been on the company since it started. Tiffany Bozic drew the graphic of some Canadian Geese and Matt Irving helped with layout. The process of making that board graphic was the point where I realized that I needed to learn Illustrator and other design software, so I started taking design courses pretty much at the same time as that board was coming out. My board came out around the time of September 11th, 2001, and Rookie was so close to the World Trade Center in NYC, that after that happened they were without power or any infrastructure for a couple months and that was basically the end of Rookie.
What was the contest scene like back then?
Everybody knew everyone. It was a really small, really tight scene. The prize money wasn’t all that. I won a couple World Cup events. The most I made for first in those days was $1,200 USD. I won $500 in Brazil for winning the World Cup there in 1999. Big props to Mimi [Knoop] and Cara-Beth [Burnside] for having the vision and organization to change that.
You worked making apps, right?
Yeah, I wanted to learn how to use design software to make board graphics and through that process I got introduced to making Flash animations and coding. It was a really fun and interesting time to be doing that—around 2008—but over the years the internet got more and more cookie cutter, less creative in terms of structure with everything most sites built on frameworks. After the iPhone came out, I transitioned to mostly doing motion graphics and then that led to interaction design and UX design. I worked at ad agencies, design studios, and then in-house long-term contracts designing interfaces at Samsung R&D and Google.
What are you up to now?
I’m a Senior Marketing Manager for Sports Marketing at Adidas. It came about randomly as a conversation at a campfire that led to an interview. It was a total shift from what I was doing. At first when I got out of being sponsored and into design, it was nice just to have skating be purely about the act of skating, but then when this conversation and job came about it seemed like the right time to get fully back into skating.
Do you travel a lot with Adidas? What’s that like?
It’s super fun, I’m in London right now. Just got back from a dinner with Nora [Vasconcellos] and friends. I’m enjoying the variety in this job. It can be a lot at once, but it’s great. I’m really excited for the opportunity to be in this position to be able to make things happen for others in the industry.
Going to sleep. Been awake for two days now! On a more long-term scale, planning some skate/design-related projects—but still figuring out exactly sure what shape those will take.