Why You Gotta Hustle

At 8 a.m. on International Women’s Day I sipped coffee while I sat behind my computer and logged in for another day of work. In my heart, I stood in solidarity with the thousands women who took a stand behind A Day Without A Woman, but for myself and the rest of the team at Coalition Snow, the world’s first all-women’s ski and snowboard company, doubling down on the hustle was our own form of protest.

As an all-women’s company in the male dominated ski and snowboard industry we work everyday to prove that we belong at the table, that we’re not full of it, and that women matter in the industry. Some days it’s arguing with men that not all women want gear that is watered down and painted pink, other days it’s proving that women are relevant in the ski and snowboard industry. Every day it’s explaining that our business is not a “cause” or a “project” or a “charity” because despite having a cap table, investors, a team, distribution in the nation’s largest outdoor retailer, 3 years of production, and manufacturers both overseas and in the US we’re still relegated to these gender-normative stereotypes that women don’t run businesses.

By running our own company, we have the ability to give ourselves the day off whenever we want, but we showed up because if women don’t fight to change the perception of women in business and in the snow sports industry, no one will. Like female athletes in the ski world, women entrepreneurs face outdated stereotypes and the expectation to be one of the boys. Only 10 percent of startups that raised Series A last year had female founders despite the fact that women-led companies had 64 percent higher valuations. Interestingly, female founders who turn to crowdfunding platforms to raise capital tend to perform as well or better than their male counterparts which explains why we spent International Women’s Day busting our asses to launch a Kickstarter campaign to fund our youth line of girl’s skis and snowboards.

So how does designing skis and boards become a form of protest?When I was 5-years-old I told my parents I was going to be an Olympic downhill ski racer, but by the age of 12 I knew I’d never be as good as the boys and the only women worth giving a shit about were the rare unicorn-athletes who could beat the boys. So I gave up. Statistics show that by the age of 14, girls drop out of sports at twice the rate of boys and by the age of 17, and over 50-percent of girls have quit sports altogether. When asked why they dropped out of sports, most girls cited a lack of female role models or feeling like they didn’t belong in sports.

We’re changing that narrative. Women and girls do belong. They belong in sports, they belong on the mountains and they belong in the boardroom. Though we have a bigger mission than creating planks of wood that slide on snow, and a vision of making snow sports a more equitable place for women we’re also running a business and if we can’t break the stereotypes surrounding women in business than we don’t have time to take the day off — even on A Day Without A Woman.

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