When skis and snowboards became her thing, Jen Gurecki didn’t let this male-dominated industry stop her from making some “kick ass” goods that redefined outdoor winter sports and gear for women. Recognizing the double edge sword that women face in business of being too kind (ie. collaborative) versus being considered the “b” word, Gurecki chose to be assertive, bold and have conviction which has been her formula for success. We had the opportunity to hear directly from Gurecki what the struggles have been and how she chooses to overcome them.
1.Tell us about your company?
Coalition Snow is the world’s first company specializing in superlative skis and snowboards designed by women, for women. Simply stated, we make women’s skis and snowboards that don’t suck. Now in our fifth year we’re shaking things up a bit with a new quarterly magazine we just launched called Sisu, and it’s all about telling the untold stories of the outdoors.
2.What/who inspired you to start your company?
We were frustrated by the lack of choices women had when it came to finding a kick ass pair of skis or a snowboard. We saw a tremendous opportunity to redefine the narrative of the outdoor woman. So rather than waiting for the (male dominated) industry to make the moves, we took things into our own hands and started Coalition Snow.
3.Tell us a story/incident that happened while starting or running your company that may have made you feel defeated. Now tell us how you overcame that.
Just one?!? We faced significant challenges right out the gate. The year that we launched also happened to be the worst drought in the history of California. As a ski and snowboard company, we depend upon snow. But there wasn’t any in Lake Tahoe (or most of the west). As a result, sales were so low. Like so low most people would have shut down shop. But I wasn’t ready to so I put together a Kickstarter to leverage the community we were able to build despite the dry conditions. And it worked. We raised enough to fund our second round of production, and five years later we’re still here.
4. Have you had any unique challenges as a woman in business?
Of course. To start, I work in a male dominated industry and have chosen to do something that women don’t traditionally do — design hard goods. So you get judged when you don’t stay in your lane. To boot, when people think you’re young, there’s a whole other level of suspicion; they think you are incapable of success in business. I’m not as young as they think nor do I suffer fools lightly so I obviously find ways to set the record straight. Which leads to my final unique challenge, which is women are trapped in a binary lose-lose game of either being perceived as too nice when they attempt to lead with collaboration and kindness, or a bitch when they speak their minds and stand up for themselves. I’ve chosen to embrace the latter as I understand my self worth and I’m not afraid to show up boldly and with intention.
5. What is your biggest fear with your company and how do you overcome it?
That we run out of money, and I overcome it with a hustle like you’ve never seen.
6. Please share your best piece of advice for aspiring female founders.
Figure out what you’re willing to suffer for. This is not easy, and success lies in figuring out how to stay in the race, whether you’re bloody and crawling or sprinting.
7. What are your goals with the company?
Make sure to join us this Friday on our Instagram for our Female Founders Giveaway!! You can win some cool Too Pretty gear and a some awesome shorts from Coalition Snow! See you there!!