Coalition Snow : Defying Shrink It and Pink it
I knew first-hand that women never had as many choices as men when it came to performance equipment.
– Jen Gurecki, CEO of Coalition Snow
If you’ve never heard of Coalition Snow, you’re truly missing out!
Started by two women, Jen Gurecki and Danielle Rees, Coalition Snow makes winter equipment and apparel for women that doesn’t suck! Realizing there was a gap in the market due to the fact that women’s skis and boards were being created by a male-dominated industry looking to “shrink it and pink it,” these ladies decided to create their own gear. After only five years in business, Coalition Snow is receiving national recognition for their products. Just one example of their success is their SOS All Mountain ski, Debutante Girltawk, which was recently listed as a Skier’s Choice ski for 2018 in Powder Magazine.
I stumbled on this company completely by accident, in a news article about new and noteworthy skis that were coming out for the 2017-18 season. After looking up the brand, I fell in love with what Coalition Snow is doing for women in snow sports while also providing products that are made for women who rip on the slopes. I also love the graphics on the skis and boards! Being a skier and a snowboarder myself, I really appreciate the attention paid to the quality of the board itself as well as the design, which I also think is integral to feeling strong and confident on the slopes! Your gear has got to look good in the snow!
In addition to creating equipment and apparel for women, Coalition Snow encourages women to embrace who they are and express that to the world. They created the Sisterhood of Shred program which allows skiers and riders from across the US to come together online and in person, share their experiences, enjoy the outdoors, and enjoy snow sports. With their gear and community, Coalition Snow seeks to provide a supportive environment for women to gain confidence and interact with other women who love the outdoors.
I suppose I got tired of waiting for the industry to change, and quite honestly I looked around at all of the men doing it and I thought to myself, “If they can do it, so can I.”
Interview with Jen Gurecki of Coalition Snow:
I got the chance to talk with co-founder and CEO of Coalition Snow, Jen Gurecki. Here’s what she had to say:
What inspired you to not only create your own company but equipment and a coalition/community of women who rock?
Naivety and grit?!? If I had any idea how difficult this industry was, I probably wouldn’t have started Coalition.
But I had started other businesses before, and I knew that there was a problem worth solving. I’d been skiing and snowboarding for decades and cut my teeth in the industry tuning skis and boards at my local mountain. I knew first-hand that women never had as many choices as men when it came to performance equipment. I also knew that we rode just as hard and were as passionate about the mountains as men.
I suppose I got tired of waiting for the industry to change, and quite honestly I looked around at all of the men doing it and I thought to myself, “If they can do it, so can I”. So we took things into our own hands and started making the equipment we wanted to ride on. And because there is so much more to skiing and snowboarding than pow days and big air, we wanted to be a part of building a stronger, larger, and more powerful community of women. That’s been the best part of this journey.
Women have to deal with some shit every day, and we recognize that we can be part of eradicating that and moving us forward.
How has the company evolved since inception in 2013?
From a product standpoint, we’ve more than doubled our line-up of skis and boards, giving women more choices when it comes to high-performance equipment. We’ve also introduced backcountry specific models in both skis and boards, which has been both challenging and exciting to design. We’ve won awards for our skis. You’d be amazed how things change when people start to take you seriously, and what you can do with that newfound legitimacy.
We’ve also found our voice. When we started it was all about putting an end to shrink it and pink it. Back then, no one was using that phrase, and now everyone is. It’s pointless now because it means everything to everyone. Today we recognize that we’ve got a platform to talk about real issues that affect women. Don’t get us wrong, we love having fun and can keep it light (anyone listened to our Juicy Bits podcast on waxing?). But whether we’re on the chairlift, or trying to build careers in the outdoor industry, women have to deal with some shit every day, and we recognize that we can be part of eradicating that and moving us forward.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as you charge forward into a largely male-dominated industry?
This is a great question. Now that I’ve been in the industry for about five years, I find that the greatest challenge is the power hierarchy between the heritage and the indie brands. Are those heritage brands almost exclusively run by men? Yes. Same goes for the indie brands. So obviously gender plays a role because I don’t look like anyone who holds power.
There is an incredible sense of camaraderie between the indie brands because we are what is keeping the industry alive.
The challenges we face are mostly with patriarchy rather than men as individuals (although dude soup is a thing). Sometimes it feels like there is no way to compete with them. They own the walls in speciality retails shops, have troops of reps, have relationships that go back decades, and can write cheques to get just about anything they want. They take up all of the space, and us smaller brands are fighting for a bigger slice of the pie. Luckily there is an incredible sense of camaraderie between the indie brands because we are what is keeping the industry alive. We’re interesting, with real people and real stories, and we’re all very proud of that.
I want to be recognized as change makers and thought leaders, a company that has made a real difference for women in the outdoors.
What are your hopes for the company moving forward?
Sometimes I don’t even know how to answer this. All you can think about is getting through each day, one day at a time. But like anyone who owns a business, I want to see us grow and become a household name for all women who love the outdoors. I want to be recognized as change makers and thought leaders, a company that has made a real difference for women in the outdoors. I’d like to forge some really interesting partnerships that drive innovation, and not just on the product development side but within the culture of the industry. Oh yeah, and then there’s that world domination thing…
What would be your advice to women and girls out there who participate or want to participate in action sports?
Just do it. Don’t wait for permission. Don’t wait to be perfect. Find your community and don’t worry about being liked. There’s so much perceived judgment, but really no one gives a shit as much as you do, so do what you love. You’d be amazed at how many people will welcome you and boost you up.
What is your favourite ski or snowboard to ride from Coalition Snow?
Ohhh….well it depends on the conditions and terrain as you can’t have one tool in the toolbox! I’m the one snowboarder in our core team of all skiers (it’s lonely over here) so on most days you’ll find me on our Myth dual-camber board. I love how well it holds an edge and I can rally through any terrain. And those graphics… I just want to wrap my body up in them!
For days in the backcountry, I’m on our Sojourner splitboard. What a relief to have a split under my feet that doesn’t feel like a tank.
To check out Coalition Snow, visit their website at www.coalitionsnow.com
This is definitely just the start for Coalition Snow. I have no doubt that this pair of incredible women, along with their team of women, will do more to inspire female athletes to go after their dreams no matter what, even if they’re surrounded by men.