Giuliana Rende: From the slopes to the yoga mat

Part of Giuliana Rende’s job is going to yoga class.

The former professional snowboarder, 37, holds the post of citywide community education manager for Lululemon Athletica, a Vancouver, Canada, business with Bay Area stores in The City and Burlingame.

It’s a company that’s trying to do things differently, from calling its salespeople “floor educators” and refraining from hard sales tactics to paying for two fitness classes a week for staff members.

“It’s really an altruistic way of dealing in business, which I think is really unusual,” she said, explaining that the company would rather lose sales than have customers leave unhappy. “The last thing I would want is for somebody to walk out of the store with something they felt talked into.”

Rende manages Lululemon’s Bay Area “community educators,” people who find yoga and fitness instructors who hold to the company’s values and beliefs.

The educators also maintain in-store and online bulletin boards of all the yoga classes and other offerings in their communities, inform instructors and trainers about a special research and design list that exchanges clothing discounts for product feedback and organize charitable giving.

Rende herself also works the floor at times, and attends and schedules design meetings. For example, the firm met with 10 members of the San Francisco Ballet recently to ask them what they like and don’t like about existing dance clothes.

“The [clothing] designer has a really strong dance background, but she relies on professionals who are doing it day in and day out,” Rende said.

Rende graduated from UCLA in 1991 with a degree in communications and marketing. She was a pro snowboarder until age 28, when she retired due to serious injuries, she said.

She then began a career in the marketing world in earnest, working at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners; Squaw Valley Academy; Zuckerman, Fernandez and Partners and Gauger & Santy. She received a master’s in psychology this year.

She was ready to take another job with a local school district when she received the offer from Lululemon, and said she took a pay cut so she could work with the firm.

kwilliamson@examiner.com

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