Like so many in the action sports industry, Danielle Beck's career started in retail. Her hometown shop, Moondoggies in San Luis Obispo, California, gave Beck her first taste of the business side of surfing and helped launch the career of one the most influential women in action sports.
After a trip to San Diego to visit a friend, Beck decided she'd had enough of the cold waters of SLO and transferred out of Cal Poly to move to SoCal, where she began teaching surf lessons at the well-known Paskowitz Surf Camp in San Clemente.
During her first summer at the camp twelve years ago, Beck—an unassuming nineteen-year-old—walked up to Roxy's Executive Vice President of Global Marketing Randy Hild on the beach at San Onofre, made what she describes as a "smart ass" comment, and in doing so would prove to launch her career at the largest women's brand in the surf market.
"He [Hild] was out on the beach working to set up a Roxy wahine contest site all by himself, and I kind of walked up and made a smart ass comment—I told him to take a break," recalls Beck. "We just started rapping and I ended up hanging out that weekend and helping with the contest."
They worked together on the contest, and since Hild was looking for an assistant at the time, he asked Beck to come on board with Roxy full time. "They hired me and in about six months I was offered the job of team manager."
As time passed, Beck assumed more responsibility and proved herself early on by building a solid roster of athletes, eventually expanding her role across sports. "I was able to grow our surf program and handle all of our core ads," she says. "We really built the team, and then I took on snow as well and built that from the ground up."
As part of Roxy's early years in the snow market, Beck brought a young Australian named Torah Bright on to represent the brand. Nine years later, Bright stood atop the podium at Vancouver's Olympic games. "Torah has worked really hard and that to me has been one of the proudest moments of my career personally," says Beck. "I was the one who picked her up on the team and worked with her. It was incredibly gratifying and the first gold medal for the company in general."
But undoubtedly Beck's biggest impact on Roxy has been her role in taking the brand to the masses. One major project, which helped define how women and the sport of surfing are associated by the mainstream, "fell into my lap," Beck remembers. "Danny Kwock, who was running Quiksilver Entertainment, pulled me into a meeting [about an MTV project called Surf Girls]. Afterwards I sent them a long e-mail explaining what I envisioned for the project, and from then on I was pulled into it, not even realizing the capacity that I would end [up] being involved with it."
Beck not only hosted MTV's 2003 hit reality show, she also acted as the proverbial den mother to the fourteen contestants, played a major role in the conceptualization of the show, and had her hands on all aspects of the project from start to finish.
"I think the year we did Surf Girls our business grew 47%," Beck, who has been at the company for several ebb and flow cycles, says modestly. "I think we were about 65 million domestically when I started and I've seen it hit the 750 million mark globally. So I've been here for a ton of growth, but during that growth period I think everybody in the industry was guilty of making some not-so-good decisions," she admits.
Beck believes that the latest economic downturn will prove to be a benefit to the action sports market, and references huge growth years as an example. "The economic downturn has been good for people. It has forced us all to reprioritize and know where every dollar is going rather than throwing a party just to throw a party," she explains. "I think I've always struggled with that in our industry a little bit."
Having recently been promoted to VP of marketing at Roxy, Beck says the secret to a successful marketing campaign is finding the right balance. "You've got to have a fearless mentality when it comes to marketing, but also [be] strategic," she says. "The game is so different now with vertical, e-commerce, and wholesale. You can't just do one or the other, so your time and attention is spread thinner … My whole plan for 2011 is to take care of all platforms at once as best we can so that the message is seamless across all the major silos at once and we get a firm foundation set … it's all about finding a balance."
Although she's too humble to say it, Beck has played an integral role in bringing the sport of surfing to a larger stage for females. She credits her own intuition and connection with the brand to her successes.
"I never finished school, but I feel like I'm very intuitive and I really connect with who the Roxy girl is," she says. "But there are times when I doubt myself because I don't have that college degree. Then when I think about it, which opportunity is really better—to learn about business hands on or at a university?"
According to Beck, the company uses six words to describe who the Roxy customer is: daring, confident, naturally beautiful, fun, and alive. For anyone who knows her, it's no wonder that Danielle Beck has been able to create such a strong connection between the brand and its target demographic—she's six for six.