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The Reddyyeti Podcast: EP #59 with Coalition Snow

“We make women's skis and snowboards that don't suck.”

09.22.17

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The Reddyyeti Podcast: EP #59 with Coalition Snow

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In this episode of the Reddyyeti Podcast, Josh sits down with Coalition Snow co-founder Jennifer Gurecki. Although women's skis and snowboards have been available for quite sometime, rarely has a brand ever taken such a large leap passed the shrink it and pink it approach to building women's skis and snowboards; until Coalition Snow was born. With the spark of a simple conversation during a backcountry ski trip, Jen was given the idea to start a ski company to fill in a serious gap in the snow industry and absolutely ran with it! Join us as Jen walks us through Coalition’s humble beginnings to their beginnings of rocking the boat of the ski and snowboard industry...

​BYPASS THE ‘SHRINK IT AND PINK IT’ MENTALITY

Q: What is Coalition Snow all about?

Jennifer Gurecki: Coalition Snow is a women's ski and snowboard company and our mission is to deconstruct the status quo. Quite simply we make women's skis and snowboards that don’t suck.

Q: Where did the idea come from to build a brand specifically geared towards women?

Jennifer Gurecki: The idea came to me when I was on a backcountry ski trip, out with some friends. As women, we often talk about the poor quality of women's skis and boards...a few years ago I realized something interesting was happening in the industry. Women, female athletes, in particular, were becoming so much more outspoken around their position in the industry…

Q: Did you have any background in manufacturing?

Jennifer Gurecki​: I have no background but, was able to bring in people who did…we would never have been able to launch this company without being able to tap into individuals who have extensive knowledge and connections in the industry…

Q: What was the next step after that first ski trip that sparked the idea?

Jennifer Gurecki: ...I asked a lot of my friends to send this concept out to their connections and be able to test the idea of it and, it was met with incredible support. So, I basically took that with the initial validation…

Q: How did California’s drought affect you when you launched?

Jennifer Gurecki: We didn't sell anything… and we weren’t alone most people in the industry suffered...this is just one of those moments where you can either just close up shop and say well it’s too hard we didn’t make it this year, or you just figure out a way to move around your obstacles…

Q: What came next after your kickstarter?

Jennifer Gurecki: We just came together and tried to move things forward. In our second year we got an awesome review from blister, we started building an athlete team and an ambassador team, we actually sold skis and snowboards to humans who we do not know...That was year two for us, looking at how we can build the Coalition Snow community…

Q: What was the process of prototyping for Coalition Snow?

Jennifer Gurecki: I’d say that our process hasn’t really changed over the years. What we’re able to do now that we couldn’t do back then is we just have a bigger line. It’s sort of like a meeting of the minds where our teams come together and we talk about what we want out of a ski…

Q: Did you have any mentors along this process and journey?

Jennifer Gurecki: Oh yeah, we’ve had a lot. We have formal business advisors who come from all different sectors whether it’s the finance side of things, or manufacture, or branding. For anybody looking to start a business the time to find a formal mentor is now. You should never go into business without having these advisors…

Q: How have you guys developed and committed to sustainability?

Jennifer Gurecki: All of our skis are manufactured in the U.S., we use FSC Certified wood. We make it a priority to only purchase and ship in 100% recycled boxes, we plant a tree for ever ski and snowboard that we sell…

Q: What is the culture like within Coalition Snow?

Jennifer Gurecki: We’re a remote team… I have never had a nine to five job, so why would then start a company to build a nine to five… We have flexible hours, we work when we want to work as long as our job gets done... We prioritize powder days…

Q: What have been some of the hardest parts about building Coalition Snow?

Jennifer Gurecki: I would say starting off, no one took us seriously...that was pretty infuriating because we are serious and it’s not the first time I’ve started a business...I would say the other thing is cash flow…

Q: What is your greatest fear in regards to Coalition Snow?

Jennifer Gurecki: There’s not a lot of other female-founded or women-specific that do what we do, that we end up being the de facto voice for women or what we do defines all women. That’s not the case, what we do, what we stand for, how we do it, what we say and, our successes and failures are really unique to us...I think one of the things that’s kept me going every single day is to know that if I didn’t wake up and make Coalition happen, then people would say ‘yup, women can’t do this’... So that’s one of my biggest fears, that we fail and that somehow reflects upon all women's ability to be in the hardgoods side of things...

Q: What are some of the biggest mistakes that you’ve made in regards to Coalition Snow?

Jennifer Gurecki: First year production, pantones weren’t right. I still don’t even know how to resolve that mistake because, I thought we had the pantones correct but, my first pair of skis came out purple...That felt like a really big mistake even though no one knew what color they were supposed to be and some people really like purple...I waited too long to get formal advisors for the business…

Q: What advice would you give someone that wanted to start a business?

Jennifer Gurecki: Make sure that you’re solving a problem. Your friends and family are going to tell you that any idea that you have is going to be wonderful but if you’re not actually solving a problem that customers have actually articulated you’re going to have a hard time selling something...the world does not need more food delivered to your home…

Q: Where do you see Coalition Snow headed into the future?

Jennifer Gurecki: I like to joke around/not joke around when I say we’re working for world domination. I want Coalition Snow to be a household name for anyone woman who skis or rides...We also recognize a huge opportunity to branch out, we launched an apparel line on June 1st…

Q: What’s the best part about running Coalition Snow?

Jennifer Gurecki: Hands down the best part is all the women I’ve been able to meet. When I think about how my community has expanded because of this company, I don’t know if I wouldn’t have met these women if it hadn’t been for Coalition Snow. I’m thinking both of our core team, our athletes, and ambassadors to random women that I meet on the mountain that have a pair of Coalition Skis!

 

The Reddyyeti Podcast: Discover innovative startups in the outdoor industry; (skiing, snowboarding, climbing, hiking, camping, kayaking, mountain biking and surfing) and hear the stories of brands who are paving the way for the future of outdoor sports. Join Josh Salvo, as he sits down with and interviews the founders of up-and-coming startups that are progressing the outdoor sports industry. 

You can find all of the ReddyYeti Podcast episodes here.

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