In the back of the Low Pressure Studio’s office, sits the Velvet Hammer—a gentle yet commanding force that manages the complicated flow of money in and out of the company. Like most superheroes, Jackie Flanagan uses her power only when needed, and she’s living proof that things are never as they seem. As a former pro snowboarder and one of the kindest humans you’ll ever meet, you might not expect her to be the financial manager for a large snowboard brand group (donning beanies instead of those classic green visors). But growing up in Ohio, her roots show in two ways: through a safe, homey feeling when you talk to her and a quiet, Midwest work ethic like you’ve never seen.
So, what does a financial manager do? In short, they keep your favorite brands running. At LPS, Jackie is in charge of both day-to-day operations and long-term financial management. Overall, this requires that she does lots of risk analysis, making sure the business and the books are balanced. On the flip side, one could consider her early days in snowboarding as risk maximization. Whether relying on Myspace friends she had never met to help her move to Colorado, driving through the night in cars with no secured seats to get to Michigan for contests during high school, or using extension cords attached to Chevy Blazers to get enough speed to hit a down rail, none of it was reckless to Jackie. It was all calculated risk to get to her dream—snowboarding. And her parents trusted their eldest and only daughter to make these decisions because they had already seen her dedication.
Jackie started snowboarding when she was a sophomore in high school, hanging up her soccer cleats and lacing up snowboard boots. Growing up in Ohio, the closest resort was a hill with 200 vertical feet where you could easily carry a conversation (a loud one, but still) across the entire ski area. To fund trips to Michigan and Vermont for contests, she spent the last of her high school years working at a physical therapy office after school and on weekends to replenish her always-empty bank account. But Jackie had a goal. “I always knew if I wanted something, I had to work for it,” she says. After graduation, she moved west, where her dream of snowboarding every day was worth any job needed to make it happen. She worked nights as a janitor at Keystone for a couple of years. One summer, she bought a one-way ticket to Mt. Hood. Living in a tent on the airstrip for two-and-a-half months, she worked at the lodge sweeping up day tickets to afford a diet of PB&Js, bananas, Cobra Dogs, and PBR. After that summer, she moved back to Ohio and started riding at Seven Springs Resort in Pennsylvania, filming 7 Deadly Edits with Ian Macy and crew as the only girl. It was around this time that Jackie started riding flow for Rome.
Jackie’s history with Rome is intertwined with her falling in love with snowboarding. The Artifact was the first board she ever bought. She hit her first box at a Rome event. And she met Pete Harvieux and Rich Whinnie, the Rome Midwest reps at the time, who gave her pro-forms for gear. Even after getting flowed a couple of seasons from Burton and then Forum, Jackie went back to buying Rome boards. “I just always went back to them. They weren’t flowing me product yet like the other brands were, but I just loved Rome as a brand for myself.”
Despite never before visiting Washington, Jackie moved to Seattle to ride new terrain and get out of the Midwest in 2015. She worked in medical billing to fund her lifestyle. “It was all repetitive robot work,” she explains. “Nothing I was passionate about. It was all to pay the bills. I never had a drive for a career, other than that I wanted to snowboard.” By this point, she was riding Rome boards, getting more into big mountain riding, and giving feedback on women’s board designs. Then Matt Stillman became the TM and Rome reassessed their team. Rich was the first to throw Jackie’s name in the ring, and in 2017, she became one of Rome’s female ambassadors.
The next year, Jackie got a letter: Rome was sold to Low Pressure Studio. At the time, LPS managed the North American distribution for five brands, Rome, Bataleon, Lobster, Nidecker, and Flow Bindings, with only four employees. The fifth employee they needed was someone to run their financial department. With her experience in medical billing and a little help from Stillman, Jackie officially became an employee and an ambassador for the company. Going from living paycheck to paycheck just so she could afford to snowboard, to running finances for a large snowboard brand group, Jackie’s journey typifies her drive to succeed.
When asked more about her early days at Low Pressure, Jackie laughs about the craziness but there’s a faint realization on her face that says, Oh yeah, I did do all of that. She loved her new role, not despite the challenges but because of them. “With no prior training, I had to create and develop my own department. I love the part of building something up from nothing,” she says. “I look back and there were only five or six of us in the beginning, and now there are eighteen total and I have two people under me.”
It wasn’t just the job she loved—LPS treated her like family. “I can’t tell you how many times in my first year I would have a call to make these relationships with shops and they would dismiss me, saying, ‘Let me speak to your boss.’” Jackie was undeterred though, and Rome and Low Pressure backed her up completely, giving her the autonomy to run the department and the support to do what she needed to get things done.
This is where the Velvet Hammer emerged. As one can imagine, it’s not easy being the person to make sure the bills are paid, but as the financial manager, that falls under Jackie’s responsibilities. Coming in, Jackie realized that LPS has aged billing, meaning that at the time, they were having trouble getting shops to pay them back. She explains, “We gave shops a whole season to pay off their bill, and then 90 days after having that equipment all season and they still weren’t paying it. In the snowboard industry, you’re buddy-buddy with the shops, you feel for them if they don’t have a good season.” But coming from medical billing, Jackie wasn’t taking shit from anyone. It was plain and simple: The bills needed to get paid.
“I came in knowing the business and easing in. ‘Hey I’m a girl. I’m a snowboarder.’ But then I was like ‘Hey, don’t pull this shit on me because I’m a girl and a snowboarder.’ We are working together as a team here—we are building a partnership,” she says. Legendary director of sales at Rome, Dan “Sully” Sullivan, captured Jackie’s philosophy eloquently, bestowing her the nickname the Velvet Hammer.
Six years into her role at Low Pressure, Jackie has dutifully and genuinely created relationships and earned the respect of everyone around her. She snowboards all the time; she won a mini SKOLF a few years ago and goes to Snowboy events every season. She’s also on the Summit Syndicate, the ambassador team at the Summit at Snoqualmie. Last winter, she started coaching with Beyond the Boundaries, a women’s snowboard camp, and she’s focused on being a part of projects that give back to the community.
Nowadays, she may be more velvet than hammer, but she’s not afraid to pull it out when she needs to—whether reinforcing relationships on the vital frontlines of the industry where brand and shops work together, ripping big lines in the Pacific Northwest, or relentlessly pursuing new experiences and challenges in the thing been her north star from the very beginning, snowboarding.