We had the good fortune of connecting with Mary Rinell and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mary, what do you attribute your success to?
50/50 resilience and resourcefulness. If I had to pick a ‘sure-fire’ suggestion to give for anyone starting anything worthwhile, it would be resilience: keep showing up. Be the YES (wo)man for as long as you see fit in order to establish yourself within that community. And resourcefulness: resources are abundant in this world. You may not have the thing you think you need to accomplish the goal you’re after now.. but with enough effort and a bit of creativity you 100% can find whatever it is you need to keep going. Take action, and stick with it! No matter what the weather might bring.
Personally, I never take no or a failure/mistake for an ‘end answer’ in a goal I am full-heartedly pursuing. Instead I accept it as the brick that it is, label it as a lesson, and set it with the others. I don’t allow those bricks to stack up as a wall in front of me. Rather I lay each ‘failure-brick’ flat and paint them yellow, so they will eventually come together to form the yellow brick road.. and everyone knows where that leads. Over-the-rainbow type of successes!
Remember a road is not one step, and not one stone.. but many.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I have served since 2015 as a freelance photojournalist and marketing director/event promotion specialist, who’s specific focus lies in motorsports (and more specifically with female athletes). Phew, what a mouth-full.. am I right?! The title is admittedly (and unashamedly) self-made, and honestly doesn’t nearly scratch the surface of what I’ve actually done over the years. Previous titles I’ve held have included Media Director, Marketing Director, Racer Relations Specialist, Social Media Manager, Branding and Design Lead, Photographer, Videographer, Series Director, Main Directing Editor, and Promotions and Sales Manager, just to name a few.
People ask me all the time just how I got started in this self-titling position which I boast of. To which I truly have 1 million answers, but shortcut all the nonsense with a nutshell version of the truth; something like…
“I got started in freelance by driving my then-boyfriend’s converted van (we stripped the back & installed wheel chucks for a dirt bike to get around on, built a partition and swapped the rear seat for a DIY box with a futon on top to sleep on) to the local off-road dirt bike races. The races were all over the state, I knew no one, had little-to-no resources (aka no money), and not a clue what I was doing yet. In-fact the first couple races I shot with a borrowed camera! But quickly I got a small kit-camera of my own, and although not ideal, I made the best of it until I was able to afford my first (used) full-frame; which was a Canon Mark II at the time.”
To get myself started I borrowed a huge, old, heavy laptop from a friend and I borrowed a basic kit-camera from another friend. I then drove to the races in a borrowed van (or later on as I met people would bum rides with them). I have slept sitting upright in the back seat of far too many vehicles on countless road trips, and have absolutely traded my work for food, gas, clothes, motorcycle parts, did I say food…?, really whatever was needed in the moment. For my particular path and in order to make it all happen in those beginning hustle years, I got REAL real good at suffering. Amelia Boone said it the absolute best: “I’m not the strongest or the fastest, but I am really good at suffering.”
Ridiculous, but also impressive if I do say so myself! So, taking it back to the value of being resourceful.. I believe with everything I have that anyone can do what I did, in any measure that they desire, with enough hustle and equal amounts of heart.
If you ask me why I succeeded early on, I’d tell you maintaining a ‘zero-excuses’ mindset was imperative. I had reasons why-not-to all over the place, but I went to the races anyway. I started with no resources, I never had the best equipment, and no one ever handed me a golden ticket that I didn’t earn myself. I worked my butt-off, kept showing up, and wasn’t afraid to look ridiculous or fail my way to the top. It was 100% my resourcefulness and persistence (and a tad of tenacity) which paid off in the end.
Alas, the good news is: this up-creek rowing period of time does not last forever, and the payoff is always worth it in the end.
I now work directly with selected well-known industry entities such as Red Bull Media House and the AMA (American Motorcyclist Association) to cover specific stories and large-scale events. The most recent of these being the 95th edition of the FIM International Six Days of Enduro (ISDE); the longest-standing and most prestigious enduro in the world.
My current most passionate endeavors are projects focusing primarily on, and working privately with, some of the motorsports industries leading female factory athletes. Being a woman myself in a male-dominant industry has had it’s drawbacks.. of which I’d like to brag and say I’ve experienced them all (possibly twice over), but it also has it’s upsides; one of which being that I’ve met some of the most inspiring female athletes you could ever imagine. These truly outstanding women are living their authentic dreams in the face of adversity and often clear bias, and I am passionate about continuing to uplift and encourage them by sharing their specific stories with the rest of the world.
One of my more recent pieces of work can be viewed in the December edition of the American Motorcyclist Magazine (AMA); where I landed both the cover and the main article written on the AMA USA ISDE teams. The feature is mainly on the Womens team, who recently claimed victory in their class (WWT) at this years race in Italy. The Six Days race showcases the absolute best riders from each country, and is held in a different location every year. I was honored to once again represent the AMA and more specifically the women’s team at this years event.
A word of advice: heed caution with the easy stuff. When I was a kid my dad told me: “If it’s easy, quit. Anything actually worth doing comes the hard way.” I always took this to heart, and I think if more people got this advice early on they’d make less mistakes along their journeys as well.
I have had to actually quit a few easy things, so that I had the time and energy to put in to the hard stuff. Believe me when I tell ya, you’re going to need every bit of energy you can muster when accomplishing the seemingly impossible. It’s difficult to choose to quit the easy stuff sometimes.. after-all they ARE easy and the other things are hard. BUT once you master this ying/yang energy game, you win.
Many days I sat sniffling, freezing my buns off in that God-forsaken van.. wondering what in the world I’d gotten myself in to, questioning my very intentions. There were countless hours of in-field practice where I was making no money and seemingly getting nowhere, but actually gaining valuable experience and relationships along the way. I had to give up time with my family, time pursuing other passions, and even time for myself in order to accomplish my goals. I did it gladly and I have no regrets, but make no mistake of the sacrifices needed along the way.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I was born and raised in Washington state, so most of my friends that come to visit are still living there and want to enjoy the Arizona sunshine when they come to visit me.
I am more of an outdoorsy type and I live pretty far out of the city down a dirt road, so visits typically include desert rides on dirt bikes or side x sides, and often end up at a river or one of our beautiful lakes.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My biggest industry accomplishments have all been either instigated directly or indirectly by working with and for one man; Mark Kariya better known as Kato. Mark has been my Mentor since I jumped in to journalism full-time in 2016, but since then he has evolved to one of my closest friends. His background in journalism spans back to the mid-70s, and he is to-date the longest-standing and most accomplished journalist for the American Motorcyclist Association. He inspires me, keeps me in-line, and I mean when I say that without him I would not be half the journalist I am today.
Besides Mark I have had a plethora of support over the years whom I could thank; spanning from social media followers I hardly know, to my closest friends and family. I love and appreciate each an every one of you, not a single word goes unnoticed and I cherish the love I receive and am grateful for this on the daily.
A specific thank you to the athletes who have trusted me to tell their story.
To my overly-tolerant and loving husband Eric, and his incredibly supportive parents Paul and Leslie.. I see your support in my every success. My successes are your as well, thank you for letting me be me.
I would be remised not to also thank the yang to my ying.. which in my world means the naysayers. Over the years I have received an equal amount of love as hate, and I feel most people’s experiences are the same. To bring good to the otherwise bad directed towards me, I have accepted that the equality of both is a must in order for balance. Therefore I’d like to also take a moment to thank those who have ‘yanged me’. For without their negativity I’d not have found the courage I needed to pursue, the tenacity I’ve needed to stand up for myself, or the bravery to keep going in the face of adversity. You are an important piece of the puzzle; although a dark one, and you probably should work on that! 😉
Image of me by Mastorgne Photography