Name: Red Rainey
Where’s home right now? San Francisco
Profession: Experience Designer
What was your first big break, or opportunity chase the dream?
Early out of the gates I was lucky to find a role among the team responsible for launching British clothing brand, Jack Wills, in the USA. A tremendous adventure which, in many ways, was the training ground where I began to learn and develop my craft. The artful power of bringing people together and creating community through shared experiences.
How did you get involved with The Ski Week and what was your role in it?
I heard about The Ski Week when I was looking for an opportunity to bridge the two halves of my professional life, brand building in the summer and skiing in the winter. When I stumbled upon The Ski Week website it was, at the time, the most beautiful website I’d ever seen, a fire was lit. I emailed the founder Leo, now a best friend and brother to me, saying roughly: “Hi [name], my name is Red Rainey. [This] is who I am. [This] is what I do. And [this] is what I do better than anybody else I know. If you ever need any help in the USA, I want to know about it.” It worked, and my first role was planning/executing the scout to find a perfect US destination, which naturally meant a powder-hunting road trip of the highest order. We skied 19 mountains in the Western United States 26 days. It’s a pretty cool company.
How has it evolved from when you first got involved in it?
My role evolved to become Global Events & Partnerships, with a generous amount of storytelling on the side. During my time with The Ski Week we grew our Austrian destination and launched across the USA, France and Japan. We also devised, dug, built, hitched, rigged and excavated some of the raddest structures, scenes and happenings imaginable in an alpine environment.
When did it dawn on you that this was the line of work you wanted to be in?
Adventure has always been my north star, it just became more and more fun as my friends came along with me.
What does it entail being an Experience Designer?
We are the ones who make the happenings happen, and experiences are key to building community. Preparedness is essential of course, but when it comes to execution I prefer to set the stage, apply a few key principles, throw in a free radical or two, and relax into the chaos. It was a wake-up moment for me when I realised raising projects like mine can be all about letting go, releasing control. The experience can be just as much a journey for me, as those I am lucky to share it with.
What are the biggest challenges with what you do?
Event production can be an anxiety inducing affair if you approach it the wrong way. Also I fly a lot, which means certain foundational elements of a ‘normal’ life are spectacularly, and at times hilariously, entirely missing from my own. Every couple of months my flatmates ask me if I’m a spy.
Who do you seek advice from and who really helps you when you need guidance?
My best friends really hold me down, and push me forward. Each brings something else to the table, whether it’s realism, encouragement, rivalry, or insight. A good reality check never hurts either, even if it stings at first.
Do you ever doubt what you are doing?
Of course. I became unimaginably good at pouring champagne down folks’ necks, but without some meaningful direction that element of an experience is no longer interesting to me. It’s a constant journey, but a blessed one, that I get to will into existence the kind of adventures I’ve always dreamt of.
What’s a typical day for you?
Honestly there is never a dull day. A ‘typical’ day however will drastically vary dependent on the time of year, and continent I wake up on. I try to embrace the environment around me as much as possible, so if there’s trees, I will climb. If we are close to an ocean or lake, I will swim. And if there is a high structure with a view, then you know where to find me.
What do you wish you had known when you first started heading down this line of work that you know now?
The only thing cooler than exclusivity, is inclusivity. Raising projects is all about letting go, or releasing control. And airlines will literally do anything you tell them to, you just have to find the right approach.
Any personality traits you have discovered about yourself along the way?
I value my time alone, and the freedom to stay or go when it feels right.
Have you experienced any fuck ups in your line of work?
Oh yes. Back when I was starting out, I employed some good ol’ fashioned scrappy creativity, to rig a balloon-drop over a dancefloor using a fishing net, on Nantucket Island. In hindsight I probably should have seen it coming, but when I pulled the ripcord at midnight the whole thing came down, and I basically caught myself the ultimate trophy catch of high-society heirs and their pastel-clad boyfriends. The general vibe was pissed, for sure, but we got over it after 2-3 hours of untangling pearl earrings and tiffany bracelets from the net. It was like I’d gone fishing for mermaids.
What has been your best moment so far as a result of doing what you do?
Watching people’s minds explode with a new experience is always pretty special, you can’t top that. However I did once escape Russia without a passport, and flipped my lousy flight plan into an all-expenses-paid 24hrs in Helsinki, with direct flights back to SF the next day. I definitely felt like Frank Abignail Jr with that level 100 finesse.
What advice would you give other twenty-something’s who are thinking of pursuing a career such as yours?
People make the world turn. People are both the lock and key to opening any door you can possibly imagine, even if the door doesn’t exist yet. Find out what motivates a person, show it to them, and they’ll give you anything you want. Learn that, and there is no door you cannot pass through.
What do you think the next steps are for you this year?
I just moved to San Francisco, so I’m most excited about building some foundations for myself and getting to know my new city.
Any exciting projects we should look out for?
Of course! There’s a disposable camera project in the pipeline, it’s a collaboration with a few artful souls called Mezzo [@mezzophotos]. Our end goal is to enable people to capture the moment, without removing oneself from the experience. There’s also an audio project in the works, a podcast of campfire conversations with friends I love and respect around the world. But I’m bound to secrecy on that one, so I can’t share any names yet.
What’s the dream?
The dream is to apply my skills to a life project. I would like to secure a plot of land somewhere with hills, forest, and water to build a few properties on. So that all my family/friends can be close to one another, and I can bring people together on common ground.
Finally if you weren’t be doing this, what would you be doing?
Absolutely no idea, but I like to think I’d still be having fun and spreading warmth.
Just for fun…
In your twenties the three things I tend to think about are… Hustle, direction, creativity.
When I look at my bank statement after a night out I usually… Chuckle, I haven’t paid for a cocktail in years.
The Twenty Mile Club is…. Where the fun begins.
Connect with Red Rainey on Instagram here @findredrainey
Find Mezzo on Instagram here @mezzophotos
Credit to photographer @alex_broadstock