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We can't wait to see you all this week for the Coalition Snowboard demo night & last SheShreds Rail Jam this Wednesday, Feb 17th at Ladies Night at Powder Mountain! We are stoked to be giving away a Coaltion snowboard and wanted to give you the inside scoop on what Jen Gurecki over at Coalition has been doing to make sure women get the same detailed attention the men do when it comes to a good ski or snowboard. Read below for a little bit on Coalition, who they are and what they do.
Before I get into the interview portion I wanted to share a testimonial from Melissa Benjamin who is an ambassador not only for Sheshreds.co but also for Coalition, When I asked her to tell me more about the ambassador program with Coalition this is what she had to say: "I will just tell you now. The first time I heard about Coalition I had to know more. I have always skied on men's skis becuase no ski would ski the way I wanted it to. And when SheShreds said they were having a demo with Coalition SOS skis I had to jump on board. Long story short, I contacted Jen after riding them that night and she let me hop on board so I could spread the stoke. By the way, the ski rips!! I have never been more stoked to be apart of such rad movement in the right direction for female athletes."
Q: So Jen, What makes Coalition boards and skis women-specific, what research and design was implemented to give them an edge over other women branded skis and snowboards?
A: We wanted gear that wouldn't hold us back, gear that enhanced our skills rather than sandbag us. There is a major deficit in the market when it comes to high performance women's skis. They are short and soft, which significantly diminishes their performance. This type of construction is perfect for beginner skis, but all women shouldn't be locked into this category. Its a shame that so many women are on short, soft gear- there is no way you will ever be able to progress if your gear cannot keep up with you. There is a reason you cannot keep up with your man friend, your gear is holding you back. We know how important it is for women to feel confident in what they do, once you progress past a beginner ski, you need gear that will compliment your skills and make you feel good.
Our process is simple! We ask women what they want, we listen to them, and we incorporate their feedback into every element of our designs, from flex to shape to graphics. Our edge is that we are women who have spent decades skiing and riding. What women want in their skis or boards is not a mystery to us. In a perfect world, it wouldn't be important to focus on only women's skis and boards because gender wouldn't be an issue. But we don't live in that world (yet) so it is important to elevate the people who remain in the shadows. In the ski and snowboard industry, those people are women. That is challenging to some degree, but there is also a ton of girl washing going on to.
Q: What is the project that Coalition is spearheading in Africa? Tell me more about how your company is giving back to other women?
A: I started the organization Zawadisha back in 2012, whose mission is to provide small loans for items with big impact to help rural women finance their livelihoods. Because my work with Zawadisha takes me to Kenya quite a bit, it was not easy to see what we could do as a ski company to both support women and have a positive environmental impact. We provided a women's group with a rain water tank so that they could plant indigenous trees, and we currently plant one tree for every pair of skis or snowboard that are sold.
But our commitment to supporting women goes beyond our partnership with Zawadisha. We support local initiatives as well, such as, SAFE AS clinics, SheJumps, and Girls on the Run. We believe that corporate social responsibility should not be something that you do because you are suppose to, but because you believe in the power of business to positively shape communities and impact people.
Q: Where are your products manufactured? Is there an emphasis on producing eco-friendly gear?
A: We manufacture both overseas and in the United States. We are working on developing our materials and manufacturing to be more eco-friendly, which unfortunately has been a longer process than we anticipated. We are proud to say that we will be using FSC certified wood and Entropy resins in some of our 2016/17 line-up.
Q: Tell us more about your ambassador program and how do girls get involved with that? What type of girls are you looking for?
A: We are looking for highly motivated women who identify as advanced/expert skiers and snowboarders. Similarly to Sheshreds, we are looking to build a community of like-minded women who are passionate about riding and about challenging the status quo. We are really into leveraging the power of social media with our ambassadors, and we also work with them on demos and events around the country. You can visit our website and click on "Join The Movement"
Q: What made you choose to work with SheShreds.co? What does it mean to be partnered with us on Ladies Nights?
A: Gina is a bad ass, so how could you not want to work with SheShreds? Partnering with SheShreds on their Ladies Nights helps us fulfill our mission to advance women in snow sports, and it helps to build a community. We hope that our partnership inspires young women to make the connections and find the support, power, and joy that can be found in building authentic relationships with other women.
Q: What inspired you to start Coalition?
A: I have been snowboarding for twenty plus years and when you spend that much time in the mountains you meet a lot of amazing people. I have surrounded myself with brilliant women (and men), and a consistent narrative always emerged, whether we were on the chairlift, grabbing a drink at the end of an awesome powder day, or just sharing a meal together. Why are strong and skilled women invisible in the snow sports industry? There is so much data out there about our participation in snow sports is on the rise, we are the ones CRUSHING it on the mountains! We are often times lumped into " junior" equipment categories, gear made just for women is flowery and pink and short and soft, and women are objectified.
We are an after thought. We live on the sidelines. It is quite insulting. I wanted to change that.
Q: What is one thing that you have learned about the snow sports industry that you did not know before starting Coalition?
A: It is no where as sexy as you think it is. I spend more time in meetings and on my computer than I do riding. But this is what it takes to grow a company, and I am committed to that. I know that there are still plenty of powder days in my future :)
Q: What would your dream day consist of?
A: There would have to be no work involved, which is what would make it quite different than my daily routine now. My dream day would begin with the perfect cup of coffee and two feet of fresh and cold powder waiting for me. No crowds, no lift lines, just endless pow. Ideally a snow cat would be in the mix, but not required. Drop into a hot tub for a late afternoon soak, then a healthy, delicious dinner with friends. Intelligent conversation and strong bourbon required.
Q: Favorite Vacation Spot?
A: The East Side of the Sierra Nevada mountain range
Q: Favorite place to chow down?
A: Anywhere ethnic that serves it up spicy.
See, this company is amazing and so are its leaders. We cannot wait to see how the skis and boards ride. Our SheShreds Ambassadors will be up at Powder Mountain this coming Wednesday and we're pretty sure we'll be hearing all the rave about Coalition Snow.