meg stark, marc o malley, ride snowboards

To be at the core of snowboarding is something innate, something felt. A switch that never gets turned off. It’s clear where that exists in the front of house, with pros and media buttressed by spotlight and vibrant personalities, but there’s something sorcerous that happens in the back. What happens behind the scenes is often unknown to the end user, but those who have committed to contributing to snowboarding from behind closed curtains are truly at the core of our culture.

Megan Stark is one of those people. Snowboarding has always been home for Megan, and after taking some time to pursue a career in environmental science, her deep-seated need to be involved in the sport landed her at Elevate Outdoor Collective as the global senior product line manager for all snow categories. This includes boards, boots, and bindings across both the K2 Snowboarding and Ride Snowboards brands.

Meg Stark Marc O Malley Ride snowboards

“It was the place I felt most myself,” she muses about her childhood spent night riding in the Poconos. From a young age, Megan found something in snowboarding that she never let go of and has since structured her life around. She chose to study at the University of Boulder in Colorado, then left campus to pursue classes online, giving her more time to ride. She worked at High Cascade to snowboard in the summer.

After graduation, Megan worked in environmental science, but while actively seeking pathways out of her degree-focused field, she got a call from Tom Johnson and Tanner McCarty at K2 and Ride, respectively, asking if she was ready to come back to snowboarding. Her answer? “I’m ready, what do you have for me?”

“That moment for me was definitely a turning point in my life and in my career that set me up in the place I am now,” says Megan. She returned to snowboarding and found a position where she could flex her creative muscles, while also helping to create a product line that serves a large variety of riders. Taking inspiration from fashion, daily life, and peer perspectives, she is constantly absorbing ideas with acute objectivity and applying them to both her personal life and work. “My inspiration always comes from other designers and how they think,” explains Megan, “but also a lot from high fashion, just to see how people rethink the ordinary.” After five years committed to the K2 line, she has shifted her current focus over to Ride.

Meg Stark

The expanse of what Megan does in her role is ungovernable, but if you’ve ever met her, it’s all quite tightly maintained. She oversees everything in the product assortment, encompassing development and line structure, consumer insights, and athlete feedback, and works collaboratively with sales  and marketing. In her words, the product line manager is “kind of like a linchpin within the company. Everything starts with you and it kind of ends with you.” What Megan brings to the table at Ride is cemented by genuine commitment to snowboarding. She keeps a finger on the pulse of every department, ensuring that Ride, as a brand, stays true to itself, while consumers can find products they identify with wholly. From aesthetic, to function, to price point, it all comes back to the consumer.

Megan approaches the snowboard category with an uncanny dedication to each individual product. When she starts working on something, whether it be a new addition or an alteration of an existing piece, she fine-tunes the product to be the best fit for the target consumer, researching, collaborating internally, and using feedback, insights, and athlete input to truly hit the nail on the head. “We are creating a product to create the best possible experience for somebody else,” she exclaims. Megan holds a strong commitment to each demographic the team at Elevate designs for, making sure that any given product is built and tested to meet the consumer’s needs.

“I think some of the best years I’ve had were on boards that I was psyched to be on,” she says. We all want to be on a board we are stoked on, but to be satisfied with every component can be hard to achieve. Megan is working to remedy that. She knows what she likes, so much that she is known to alter, adjust, and refine everything in her life to become exactly what she wants. She laughs remembering times where she had spraypainted a board’s top sheet, colored over her boots, or hand-dyed and restuffed pillows in her home, all to find a happy medium of aesthetics and function.

Meg Stark

She applies the same mentality and precision to her work, ensuring that all consumer insights are directly aligned with the entire production process to bring something to life that meets the needs of the rider it is designed for. It’s about taking a genuine approach to rider needs for Megan. On the topic of prototyping and testing, she remarks, “We can test a board all day long but if we are not testing the product with the end consumer in mind, then we aren’t doing right by snowboarding.”

Her ability to tap into a demographic and pin down their needs is the product of personal experience and an internalized commitment to making things right. “Decisions are never taken lightly,” Meg states. “These decisions affect the person’s day and their time on the mountain, so my own personal need for being very particular and making everything as it should be goes directly into the product.”

She is a living embodiment of her work, and her precise approach to insight-driven design is mirrored by the Ride Snowboards line. Ride’s products are astutely defined, and according to Megan, “One of Ride’s biggest strengths is that it is very curated. It’s very easy for anyone to look at the collection and find something that they identify with.”

With authenticity at the core of its identity, Ride is continuously shifting into a more genderless and size inclusive offering. According to Megan, providing a full size-run gives everyone an opportunity to participate and be part of the community. It’s something that the entire team at Ride carries the weight of and comes down to making sure that Ride stays Ride.

“I always say, we win and lose together,” says Megan. “It’s never just me; without the entire crew, we do not function. Every single member of the Ride team is paramount to the success of the brand.” While Megan’s role is to ensure that Ride continues to be tapped into the culture of snowboarding at its core, she is also at the core of connecting the team that backs her, building a cohesive process that keeps Ride the undeniably recognizable and identifiable brand that it always has been.