As the action sports industry goes mainstream, reaching out to skateboarders, skiers and snowboarders is a must for marketers. However, with the industry's far-from-ordinary culture, passion and lifestyle, many "outsiders" are quickly thrown for a loop. Enter Caroline Graeff, a professional snowboarder-turned-entrepreneur who left the slopes to carve out her own niche. In March 2006, she launched Imagine Marketing Agency, a Manhattan Beach, California, action sports marketing and PR firm.
It takes skill to sell to a youthful segment that often rejects commercialization, but Graeff has just the right touch. The 27-year-old forms sponsorships between big-name companies and daring athletes, makes sure marketing messages are relevant to the action sports audience, and emphasizes the community above all else--which has helped her sales projections zip past $300,000 after just over a year in business. Says Graeff, "[Giving] back to the community is ultimately the best."