When Brian Kachinsky (Consumer Science, ’04) rolled into The Link with one of his trusty BMX bikes, I knew it would be a good day. “I have things for Show and Tell,” he pointed out with a big smile.
Since graduation, Brian’s main career has been competing as a professional freestyle BMX rider, earning a medal in the 2013 X Games, and training on the urban elements of cities all over the United States and in 35 countries around the world. He’s even jumped down a staircase at one of Saddam’s palaces.
Brian visited with Retailing Faculty Associate Nancy Murray’s CS 567: “Product Development Strategies in Retailing,” class to talk with students about his life path since graduation and offer tips for those interested in getting into the world of product development. Brian took an uncommon route before becoming a full-time rider – not many action sports athletes attend college and instead choose to go directly from high school into their professional careers. Brian talked about the challenging balancing act of continuing on as a college student here at UW-Madison while competing at a high level in a sport that he loved, and how valuable his education has become as he builds his own career.
SoHE has given me a great platform and set of skills to go out and do what I do. Fortunately, I love what I do.
He has used his SoHE degree to deepen his connections and, as he says, “speak the language,” in an industry that he’s passionate about. He can only ride competitively for so long, so he is constantly coming up with ways to establish longevity in the BMX world. Brian designs courses and helps his sponsors with marketing and product development, even designing his own shoe a few years ago that tells the story of his transition from small-town Wisconsin to big city life in Chicago.
Brian Kachinsky has had a unique and varied career over the past 10 years, but he imparted some advice to students that can apply to any path they choose to take:
“Take any opportunity, even it it seem uncomfortable or not lucrative at the time, because it may be an experience that will broaden you.”
“Things that I learned even in the classes that I hated the most, I use on a daily basis. Even if certain segments of my day seem tedious, I know I am working toward a goal that is near and dear to me. Even when you are living the dream, there is still legwork behind-the-scenes that you need to do to stay afloat.”
“The industry of action sports is a niche market. You need to develop products that appeal to the core. Your legitimacy must be present at all times. Still, some brands appeal to the masses with their products. Why limit yourself to a specific piece of the pie when you can introduce even more people to your sport?”
“Get out and visit companies. Being out in the field and visiting businesses is when you learn the most.”
“Whatever industry you go into, immerse yourself in it, but try and stay well-diversified in your skills.”
Brian currently resides in Chicago, where he runs his own media company, The Bakery and has been a contributing writer for major media companies such as ESPN and Transworld. To read more about what Brian is up to, click here.
If you are interested in connecting back with SoHE and engaging with current students too, contact Kim Lombardi at firstname.lastname@example.org.