‘We are women who make skis’ – Reno’s Coalition Snow opens Truckee store
TRUCKEE, Calif. — Since 2014, Coalition Snow has been flipping the stigma that skis and boards designed by women are somehow inferior to those made by men.
“Quite honestly, there’s not a lot of women who make skis and snowboards,” said CEO Jen Gurecki. “So, people don’t necessarily believe us that we know how to do it. They don’t necessarily trust the craftsmanship in the skis and boards.
“We’ve had to work really hard to prove ourselves, and demonstrate that we are capable of making exceptional products that people love.”
Earlier this month, the Reno-based company, which previously only had products available at retail locations and online, celebrated a milestone with the opening of its own physical location in Truckee.
“Having this store, there’s an element of community and community building and being able to bring people together, but this is another test for us to see what happens on the revenue side when you pair brick-and-mortar with online,” said Gurecki, who a year ago found herself listed in Entrepreneur magazine’s “50 Most Daring Entrepreneurs of 2018” issue. “We’ve been operating online and working with retail partners and I think we’ve done quite a good job of actually creating a community online, a place where women, in particular, feel welcome and understood.”
Roughly 100 people made their way in and out of the new store on Truckee’s Palisades Drive on Nov. 14, checking out the company’s selection of skis and snowboards during a two-hour grand opening celebration.
“It’s just really nice to open up a store in our backyard,” added Gurecki. “That’s our community and the place that we call home. We’re just really excited to be able to connect with people.”
Gurecki and Creative Director Lauren Bello Okerman began the company in 2014 in Reno in response to the industry’s “shrinking and pinking” of women’s skis and snowboards.
“I was noticing that there was this shift in the industry where women athletes were talking a lot more about the way that they were being represented in the media,” said Gurecki on starting the company. “And I just felt like there was this wave of change coming in terms of women’s representation and the way that women would be portrayed in the industry.
“I thought, honestly, that it would be a really interesting kind of social experiment to see what would happen if women made equipment, because women aren’t expected to make hard goods,” Gurecki added. “We’re expected to be on the clothing or the accessory side, and I just had this hunch that we were at the beginning of this wave of change, and I thought that it would be a good time to launch something.”
Being in a market dominated by men’s designs for skis and snowboards is something Gurecki said has been one of the biggest obstacles to overcome, citing research recently done by Stanford University that suggests gender stereotyping significantly impacts the way consumers evaluate products.
“That research really struck a chord with us, and helped to explain why things maybe felt a little bit off. Gender bias is real, bias is real, and that’s something that I’m sure we’ll have to continue to work through. All that we can do is continue to make exceptional products,” said Gurecki.
Today, the company features nearly 20 different ski and snowboard designs, and had a pair of Olympians, Rosalind Groenewoud and Britt Hawes, riding Coalition Snow skis at the 2018 games. The company also sponsors amateur skiers and riders.
“I’m really proud to say that we just signed the first trans athlete (Hannah Aram), who’s competing in the Freeride World Tour,” said Gurecki.
Heading into the 2019-20 season, Coalition Snow introduced a new ski, the Rafiki Powder Ski, which is named in honor of the company’s pledge to plant a tree in Kenya for every ski or snowboard sold.
“We’re always trying to look at what are ways we can be more sustainable and more environmentally friendly,” said Gurecki.
Moving forward, Gurecki said Coalition Snow aims to maintain its roots in women-designed skis and boards, but also to move away from being known as a company that simply makes products for women.
“We’re shifting our language away from, we make women’s skis to, we are women who make skis,” said Gurecki.
“We are finding that there’s a lot of people who look at our shapes and our sizes and look at what we’re building, and they want to be on it,” she added. “For so many years, women would ski men’s equipment and no one thought anything of it.
“So, we’re going to do the same where men ski on ours and no one thinks anything of it.”
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at email@example.com or 530-550-2643.
Construction could begin next year and require about 500 to 600 workers, with a permanent workforce starting at 150 to 200 people with potential to expand.