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The Woman Making Bomber Women's Skis

Jen Gurecki had zero experience designing skis—until she decided to start her own women's ski company

Sick of 'shrink it and pink it' mentality in the ski industry, Jen Gurecki decided to start a company to make skis specifically for women. (Erin Wilson)

Jen Gurecki had zero experience designing skis—until she decided to start her own women's ski company

Name: Jen Gurecki
Job: CEO, Coalition Skis
Home Base: Reno, Nevada
Age: 40
Education: An undergraduate degree in print journalism from Northern Arizona University and a master’s degree in education from Prescott College

Jen Gurecki was enrolled in a PhD program at Arizona’s Prescott College, studying sustainability, when she decided to launch a company that would make high-quality skis and snowboards for women. Coalition Snow, which Gurecki founded in 2014, took off faster than she anticipated, and she had to make a choice: drop out of school or give up her growing brand. She took a gamble and picked the skis. “Women really have never had a lot of choices when it came to quality and performance in skis and snowboards,” Gurecki says. “I knew they deserved more.”

Never mind that Gurecki had no experience designing or building skis—she had previously owned a whitewater rafting company in Tahoe, worked in outdoor education at UC Berkeley, and started an organization that gives microloans to women opening businesses in Kenya. “After you’ve started a business in Africa, everything else seems easy,” Gurecki says. She found advisers in the ski and snowboard industry to guide her in manufacturing and eventually rolled out three pairs of skis and one snowboard in Coalition Snow’s initial lineup. Three years later, the company has five full-time employees in the Reno-Tahoe area, ten ski and snowboard models, and a growing collection of apparel. We asked Gurecki for some insights on growing a brand while not missing a powder day.

On the Biggest Misperceptions About Running a Ski Company: “People think we ski and après all of the time, which couldn’t be further from the truth. We just don’t share photos of Excel spreadsheets, marketing funnels, and KPIs on Instagram. No one else needs to wallow in our sorrows.”

On Finding Time to Ski: “When you’re the founder of a company and you’re in the early stages, daily life is a hustle, because there will always be endless amounts of work to do. I’ve stopped feeling guilty about taking time away from work to get outside. I carve out at least an hour a day to ride my bike or make some turns. And I never schedule meetings in the morning during the winter.”

On the Most Fulfilling Part of Her Job: “The freedom to create. I’m not bound by a handbook or a set of best practices. It’s exciting and occasionally terrifying to be able to turn your vision into a reality, whether that’s a new ski design, a podcast, or a campaign.”

On Her Favorite Coalition Product: “Don’t tell anyone, but I’m a better snowboarder than skier, so my favorite piece of equipment is Coalition’s new splitboard, because there’s something so special about being in the backcountry, away from the crowds and noise and frenetic first-chair vibe.”

On the Best Piece of Career Advice She’s Received: “Know what it is you’re willing to suffer for.”

On Her Biggest Fear: “Shark attacks and hippos. Just kidding (kind of). It’s actually staring massive, life-changing failure in the face and knowing that I could have done something differently that would have resulted in a better outcome.”

On How to Make the Most of Your Next Ski Trip: “Don’t get too attached to an outcome you may not be able to control. You could spend an endless amount of planning for that perfect window of the right conditions, snowpack, and storm cycle and still not get it right. Mother Nature is the ultimate decider, and she always wins. So be grateful for what you get, even if it’s not what you planned for.”

Filed To: Skis / Women's / Culture / Gear / Tools

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