Jobs In Skateboarding - Tim Cisilino
Ever thought about juggling some of the biggest pro skaters in the world, alongside marketing one of skateboarding's skater-owned and operated shoe companies as well as dealing with the almost endless amount of new skateboarders coming through via the internet? Well perhaps Global Brand Management makes sense.
We took a dive into Tim Cisilino's world over at Emerica where he does just that and probably way more.
Jobs In Skateboarding' interviews here.
How did you get into working for Emerica Footwear at SoleTec?
My buddy Noel was Team Managing Altamont when it was going through SoleTec, during that last rad little push of Altamont with a squad of Herman, Frakie Heck, Chris Wimer, Ryan Lay and Neen was still on at that point too. There was a trip out to Texas with Thrasher and A Northwest Tour with the Berrics (who I was working for at the time), which was Seattle and Portland. Basically, what happened was that I was friends with Frankie, I was saying ‘I never been to these places, we could get it on the Berrics’, I'm down to go too because the Berrics paid my way and Noel was happy for me to come along and film. One week later I had one of the best trips of my whole life, it was minimal hassle with nothing crazy, all the dudes killed it and got so much footage in just five days.
Noel and I clicked on that trip and he eventually was switched over to Emerica. At that point I was primarily filming and when John Miner left I called to see if I could help out. I was in between jobs after the Berrics so Noah got me on a Fresno trip first and then a Canada tour with the whole team. That was with Reynolds, Spanky, Leo, Figggy and a bunch of the up and coming kids, that was probably my first big team/demo tour.
I got the random call of ‘ I don't know when… but I want you to become the team manager of Emerica,’ I wasn’t sure what or how. Was it that I could work well with the team or that I was down for anything or whatever? He said I can't say when but hang tight.
I got hit up about a Japan tour with Sonic Distribution and when I came back I got a text to go to SoleTec for a meeting. It was so quick, I’ve never applied for a role before but that was a job I had to fill out a whole form. It was social media, team managing, assisting with marketing and continuing filming for projects.
What was the role then, did you have a job title for all those responsibilities?
The job was ‘Team Manager & Marketing Coordinator’ Noel was my boss and after 90 days he left. He’d gone through to the higher-ups and told me “I'm leaving, I'm going to work in music stuff, I've trained you already so you can do my job.”’ Within those few years things definitely moved very quickly.
Within these roles in skateboarding they tend to lean into natural progression rather than formal training, does that seem fair?
Oh for sure, earlier on team manager skills are putting together videos. It's pretty natural for a skater. I think it's part of the skate DNA. Having a filmer background and just doing it with your friends creates some kind of ‘skate common sense’ too. But there are things that need to be trained on the back end, working with budgets and promo orders. It's also the first footwear company I've ever worked for, before it was just boards.
What major difference have you found between the hardware and footwear skate brands?
It's so much different. You have to remember the four seasons of product and selling which are Spring, Summer, Fall and Holiday. Firstly you stand there thinking ‘how do you guys remember all this stuff?’ it can be overwhelming, how do you memorise months and products so far in advance? Once you get to grips with all of it you’ll start remembering Summer to Holiday 2023, it becomes second nature overtime. With hardware you barely have to do product campaigns, maybe on a ‘Skater of the Year’ push but most brands don’t have to do that, they might post the latest graphics to drop via print ads, web banners and socials but they won’t be putting together huge video projects for a single graphic.
My first major product from start to finish was the Green video based on Jon Dickson's shoe. A board company won’t do a full video for a shape, maybe a pro part but not literally a deck. Certain brands will do a colourway video for a shoe but we dive so hard into a product from 18 months out of production to the marketing side.
And in that position you’re constantly living in the future I guess?
Yeah! We're always a year and a half ahead, if not more. I'm currently in late 2024 to early 2025 and I have roll-out plans along with videos, ads and campaigns for 2024. It's so different to any other part of the industry, working on 2024 launches is weird, they can be loosely planned and tweaks can be made on the way too. By the time it comes around it will be how you wanted it. I’ve got friends who are with board brands who are only looking one or two seasons ahead complaining about Holiday 2023, that's wild. It's got easier after four years but I've got used to how much goes into these products.
Any advice for wannabe team managers? Are there some fundamentals to the job?
It sounds like a gimmick but just being a skater to begin with, it plays a major role. I’ve never just been a team manager, I've always been the filmer too, so it becomes a combo role. A lot of brands out there have the same thing going, their team manager will be their filmer or vice-versa. I’m not sure which role constitutes some jobs, for example, I’ll go make spots skateable. Leo just put out the Skater part, his last trick we had to fix that water tower in the middle of the night, hopping barriers and fences to get a clip. ‘Being down’ is one thing but as a skater my whole life you just know what needs to be done for a trick to happen. You can gauge what people need like food or where we are going to skate next but as a kid you do that anyway especially if you’re the person filming your friend group. Even when it wasn’t your job you’ve got to be motivated, get a camera ready, film everything, learn to edit and upload, on top of all of that you're more than likely the one driving your friends around too. Those are the kind of people you’ll find in the industry, the skaters who have done all of it from an early age, especially the filmer who picked up their friends to skate.
That's built into you from an earlier age, you’ll do what it takes to get the clip or motivate someone else and plan out trips. Then you just build on that, now instead of a few spots you’re planning out a whole East Coast tour with 20 flights, 40 hotel rooms, flying people in at the same time as out for one airport run.
You’ll find that throughout the industry if a brand has a team manager and they don’t film the person will be more than likely an ex-pro skater. Very rarely is it a random person or even more rarely someone who has never skated, which has happened. Filmer roles naturally progress into the team manager skills and further towards how the video might roll out and look.
You’re on top of global and not just the US, bearing that in mind how has the search for talent changed overtime?
It's hard to adapt, some of us are old school. Video parts are your resume; they represent who you are to the world. They show style, tricks and even music taste, they are such a good tool to gauge someone. Through social media we've talked to kids and put them on without having a full part, they've grown up with the social media era. Going back to when I was young we’d go to trade shows with 20 DVDs so my friends could hand out their ‘sponsor me’ tapes to managers and sales reps, it's the complete opposite now, it's just ‘Hey, here's my instagram.’ which is cool, I mean some kids only skating their local skatepark (which is made to be a perfect spot) and that doesn’t necessarily positively correlate to getting the same trick on actual street skateboarding.
Street can be a mentality.
You’ve got to adapt though and yeah I do sit through people’s instagram accounts now, I’m a team manager. There might be the usual DM with a video, or shared hard posts, and links. “How do I get sponsored?” is the usual message. Put together your raw two minutes and send them over. One clip of you skating a skatepark rail doesn’t tell me a lot about you, it could sound crazy to a kid but you feel like asking ‘do you know how to push?’, ‘Can you piece together a line’, ‘What's your trick selection like?’ ‘Is there a variety or do you just have 5 tricks you can do on everything?’
It's hard to gauge through social media, you unfortunately go through 10 maybe 20 posts of bullshit but you’ll find a good way of looking at them . Some kids can rely on IG too heavily forgetting about how the people they look up to came up. I mean look at Nyjah he doesn't need to put out anything anymore but he is, he’s out there still putting together multiple full video parts.
Leo Romero’s a great example of that, he's done everything and is still producing full parts.
That's why he named that part ‘Skater’ he's just a skater, he's just genuine, he didn't want to bullshit anyone it was straight up “I’m a skater this is a skate video part”, it's no more no less and it doesn't need to be anything else.
Has social media helped with looking further afield and out of the bubble or does it just add to the pile of more skating?
I’m finding new skaters everyday, there are people out there who I might want to get involved with the brand and then there’s just people who I just like watching. It's an open platform for every skateboarder to shine, there could just be someone out there doing slappys and fun tricks, so I have to follow them. I want more and more skating and I've got to watch it. There's people who are doing mind blowing stuff on this platform who I'd never had the chance to see thanks to social media. Hey, I've discovered this person or I found a skate rat who I just love to watch and it's straight up on my phone and that's probably not going to be a ‘video part skater’. Back in the day you’d only know someone from the magazines and videos pre-internet, you'd wait years for a brand's video just to see who's the next person, I remember waiting years for Flip Sorry to come out. I must've been the most annoying 13 year old kid ever going in week after week for Sorry.
‘Sorry’ is sitting right on top of our video player in the library right now.
If you're talking about the early 2000’s, we'd find out about new people through 411 openers. There'd be people featured every time that you had never heard of, that was the way. Now it's blown up to the point that a clip will go viral on IG of a kid i’ve never heard of and probably wouldn't have ever. Maybe they’ll never be the next big thing but they went viral and that shit is always happening which is cool, it just goes to show how much skateboarding is growing across the world, especially post-covid. Skateboarding is getting to the point where everyone is good right now.
Speaking of new skaters and videos, Emerica put out some incredible footage of Braden Hoban from the past few videos. How did Braden end up in the Emerica camp?
What we did is we knew we had an AM video coming out with Jordan Powell, Matisse and Braden. We also had 'THIS' with Colin and Figgy, where we had a team section early on in the vid which teases the AMs, if you look their names in the video (which every Emerica rider has their own font) they don’t have that yet, which is regular Emerica type. Shortly after, THIS sep 2021 Emerge march 22. So early tease led to Emerge, the ‘young Emericans’ we call them.
I think the first time I saw him, I heard a little and I had seen some of his photos in a Thrasher. Braden had the Kickflip Backlip on the Muirlands' 14 rail which figgy always skates stood out. He was on Toy Machine flow and Leo, Dakota and the Tum Yeto guys do a 2 to 3 month long tour to stack clips, put on demos and stuff like that. I kind of just cold called him since we’d never met properly, I asked him if he would be down to ride for Emerica and he turned me down haha. He was skating for Nike SB flow at the time but it's a pretty good story, from not being down too hesitant. After that trip he started staying over at Leo’s house, me, leo, Dakota would be filming over the weekends and he’d jump in whilst wearing nikes and yeah people would give him shit or a fun hard time, it got to the point where I got a photo of him just trying some on, we kind of just sat around saying ‘Dude we know you want it.’ haha. I’d still film him in his Nike. It's not like we weren’t going to film his tricks, you know? He's the best dude. I think he texted me whilst I was at soletec one day ‘Can we have a quick call?’As soon as I said yes he called super fast and said “Hey, I want to be a skater.”
It was a pretty easy yes, what's your address? The box is on the way. Ever since then we've seen him progress so much from SLS, the Hubba Hideout contest, I was there for his Kickflip Backside Noseblunt on UCI too. It's been so rapid and he's blown up. Braden puts so much time and energy into his skating and it shows. It's all worked out and we all couldn't be more stoked to have him part of the team.
It was a matter of time really, he was already skating with us all the time and there are so many skateboarders out there that find a crew and it's only a matter of time that they naturally end up on that brand. It's how it goes.
I guess there's a big choice when it comes down to riding for any huge brand, do you want to be part of the mass amounts of sponsored flow skaters where you probably wont skate with the other team riders.
It comes down to two options most of the time. You can either be a small fish in a big pond or big fish in a small pond. That's my opinion on it. Do you want to be 1 of 200 or 1 of 15? It gives the rider more chances of marketing, signature products and care, it all works out for the best.
One of the hearts of Emerica is the demo and the skate tour. It might be a tough question but wise might wonder what's the return on doing this kind of marketing?
For sure, I hate to say it but over here kids are sort of used to it all. They'll probably see their favourite pro at a coffee shop. They almost don't give a shit haha because around here we have so many pro skaters. You could go to Poods Park in Encinitas anytime and see a big name pro there anywhere else in the world it makes such a heavy impact. It's what Emerica’s always done, a good example is Kids In Emerica is basically a tour video. It's part of our image and formula of doing a demo. Looking at guys like Leo at the Leeds demo went off, that's Leo in general but the mentality of the demo with Emerica is so strong because Heath raised Leo on ‘you go to a demo and you skate your heart out’ meaning he’s passed it onto Dakota and now even Braden. We’ll go to a demo and they'll fuck it up. We recently had one with SubSect in Iowa and Leo was grinding the double-kink rail and Braden was front blunting the street 16 set rail there. It was insane. For one there's a 16 stair rail at a skatepark that no-one should be touching and Braden and Leo are shutting it down and going above and beyond for the demo, and that's every demo for those guys. It's in their blood.
Yeah you can teach that but it comes from the inside of being a skater, it's not like other brands don't care about that but I grew up on that shit, I got to see Muska at a Circa demo. He signed a poster for me and something I've never forgotten. At Emerica we want to create memories and keep that going by being a brand that is 100% focused on skateboarding. Maybe it's not giving back or it is but being there for skate scenes, communities and skate shops (who are the backbone to it all) so if we're not doing everything we can the what are we doing?
Obviously brands couldn't do it for two years but as soon as it was possible we did an east coast tour in Boston and Philadelphia and straight over to the uk and then the midwest, we love doing it and its beneficial. WHo doesn’t want to go to an event and skate with their favourite pro?
I love that about any Leeds event, the skaters are just excited to have people around. There’s not a whole lot standing around and the locals without ‘showing off’ will get involved and it seems to resonate with whoever is visiting.
Dude, that Muska demo was 20 years ago. It matters a lot, I remember it like it was yesterday. Muska got on top of the van pumping out Muska-Beatz, that's the point behind this stuff. We could preach “hey we’re skater-owned or skater-operated!” and we are but we're not just banking off it. Yeah it's actually our DNA and history and we want to keep that going and give back to skating. Without skating none of us would be here. We all value the support from skate shops and the skaters. It goes a long way with us. It means so much, we love going on tours and seeing new cities, new spots, new parks and hanging out with the shops.
You mentioned DNA and formula, is there a prime mix for Emerica? Is it Footwear + Demo x Skating = Emerica?
I guess what we’ve been known for is the Green tint, the team and the last thing is the videos. Emerica has a video legacy from Yellow, This Is Skateboarding to Stay Gold… there's so many gems Emerica has put out enough to define itself. Formula wise there's never always the correct thing, its personal opinion kind of thing. Its product which is essential that's the backbone. Then it goes deeper, as a filmer I would say the video is integral. It shows the brand image, who the team is and what we're all about. The video is the answer to who, what, where, when, why of your brand in a single creation you’ll find a video will answer all those questions. Stay Gold could answer them but so could all the latest videos. Of course you have activations, the team and demos but for me its videos. Especially our days like what we discussed earlier with social media, Thrasher, even the Berrics but everyone watches the video whether it's a commercial or tiktok. Filming stuff, that's the number one format now and it's become common sense. If video parts are your personal resume and who/what you are then for Emerica you have ‘Video Parts’ plus ‘Engagement’ that’s us. If we could just put out skate videos and do tours everyday that's what I'd put my money on. They go hand-in-hand, if you go on tour for a video and film more footage for another full-length. Tours and Video projects that's what makes it.