How the 27-Year-Old CEO of Skida Started a Hat Empire
CEO Corinne Prevot, 27, turned a high school pet project into a full-blown business
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Name: Corinne Prevot
Job: Founder, CEO of Skida Headwear
Home Base: Burlington, Vermont
Education: Studied sociology and geography at Middlebury College
Corinne Prevot was a high school Nordic ski racer at Vermont’s Burke Mountain Academy when she tried to find a good hat for skiing. “It was so cold, and I wanted something that could handle sweat and moisture well but was also warm,” she says. When she couldn’t find that perfect hat, Prevot decided to sew one herself. Friends, teammates, coaches, and skiers from other schools started asking for her hats, and eventually Prevot was running a full-fledged business as a teenager, selling hats for $10 to $15 a pop. She named her brand Skida, the Swedish word for ski.
While attending Vermont’s Middlebury College, Prevot continued to make and ship hats from her dorm room in between studying and skiing. “I like to joke that it was a form of productive procrastination,” she says. Eventually the hats started to take off, and Prevot began outsourcing manufacturing to a network of sewers in northern Vermont. Forbes featured her as an all-star student entrepreneur during her junior year; after graduating in 2013, Prevot didn’t even consider applying for regular jobs. She launched into running Skida full-time, eventually opening a Burlington office, warehouse, and showroom.
Today, Skida makes fleece-lined hats, headbands, neck gaiters, and other cold-weather gear, selling to about 300 stores around the United States. We called Prevot in the midst of trade show season for her take on being a 27-year-old CEO.
On the Benefits of Being Crafty: “I grew up sewing. I was into making wallets and pouches. I went through a fleece phase where I was making fleece pants for my family. When I was having a hard time finding the perfect hat to ski in, it seemed natural to just make something myself.”
On Vermont as the Perfect Startup Location: “Our office is based in Burlington in a space that used to house a woodworking studio. It’s a fun atmosphere. We have bike commuters, the guys next door at Citizen Cider will drop off a case of cider, and I have a jar of my mom’s granola next to my desk. We’ve been really lucky to grow the business here. The community in Vermont is very receptive to a locally made product, and our story draws people in.”
On What Her Job Actually Entails: “I do everything from designing prints and picking color palettes to ordering fabrics. We do all of our sales and ship and fulfill all of our products. During the holidays, I wrap presents in the store. I answer customer service calls. People are like, ‘Oh, you’re a salesperson.’ And I say, ‘Yeah, but I’m also a designer.’ Sometimes, people say, ‘Oh, you make hats. That’s cute.’ But I’ve been doing this for ten years now. It’s not just some side project.”
On the Warmest Hat You Can Wear: “Cashmere is the warmest natural fiber. It’s brushed from the chest and underbelly of Himalayan goats. These animals live in the harshest of natural environments. It’s super-fine and has amazing moisture properties. It blocks wind, regulates temperature, and doesn’t itch. I did a research project on cashmere—its supply chain, the technicality of the fiber—while studying abroad in Nepal during college. A few years later, I decided to make cashmere hats for Skida.”
On Her Most Treasured Item: “I have this cruiser bike that has traveled across the country with me. I bought it in Missoula, Montana, after winning money in a bike race for the first time. It cost $100. It was stolen once, and I was so upset, but then I saw a guy walking it down the street and managed to get it back. Now it’s happily in Burlington.”
On Her Most Essential Daily Routine: “I have to write everything down. I’m always traveling with a notebook. I have seven notebooks at all times. I have a personal journal and a work notebook and one I’ll sketch in. Right now, I have an ongoing list of restaurants in Denver I’d like to try, a gym workout I was recently doing, my thoughts before going to bed, and things I can’t forget.”
On the Newest Skill She’s Trying to Learn: “Lately, it’s been snowboarding. I’ve gone twice now. I’ve been a skier my whole life, so it’s been fun to try something new and to laugh at myself.”
On the Importance of Staying Active: “I try to do something active every day. In summer, I mountain bike. In winter, I ski. When I’m traveling, I do my best to squeeze in time outside. This winter, I’m planning a trip to Jackson, Wyoming, to visit some store accounts and also get some ski days in. I’ve been going to Nepal the last couple of years to visit factories, and I’ve been trying to incorporate an adventure element into the trip. I’ve been bringing my mountain bike, and it’s opening up this whole new world of biking in Nepal.”
On What’s Next: “I’m constantly trying to push myself to get out of my two-week window. But it’s hard to think big picture, beyond what’s happening right now. We have such an awesome team and things are moving forward, so I can’t really envision wanting anything to change.”