7 Questions For Ski Apparel Innovator Sara Segall 7 QUESTIONS FOR Ski Apparel Innovator Sara Segall Orsden Ski is a performance skiwear brand that celebrates the ski and alpine lifestyle – looking stylish on the slopes. According to company founder Sara Segall, the line is designed to streamline the usual bulk and and blinding colors associated with traditional ski gear. Orsden’s jackets are sleek, form fitting, and high quality. Also unlike traditional ski gear, Orsden is available via a Warby Parker-esque online model, meant not only to appeal to consumers, but also to streamline the difficulty of navigating the seasonality of the industry from a retailer perspective. It is Segall’s own love for adventure and stye which is so clearly reflected in the jackets that also come at a price that won’t kill your ski holiday before it begins. 1 Initially you chose government studies. How did you end up in skiwear? So, obviously I am an avid skier, I love the activity and the lifestyle. Also, I have always been extremely active. From swimming, to running, and surfing- those things are a huge part of my life. I knew I wanted to incorporate those passions somehow professionally, but I never knew what it would be. I always had the entrepreneurial bug. In particular, the retail side of that active industry really fascinated me. I worked briefly in politics but I quickly realized it was not what I was passionate about, and if I wanted to be doing something long term in my career and be happy, I needed to pivot and incorporate those things I really loved. So, I decided to go to business school with a very distinct idea to get into the retail space and then start my own company. I ended up working for a beauty company in brand management, which was essentially everything from product development to marketing. It was really great for learning to take something from an idea, getting it made, and getting it to market. So, when my husband and I had the idea for this company about two years, everything came together. It was this amazing “ah ha light bulb moment.” I never thought I would be a “skipreneur”, but you never know where real life takes you. 2 Can you speak about the transition from beauty to apparel? I always knew that the cosmetic and beauty job was temporary. That wasn’t what I wanted to do long-term but it was a great training ground. About two years ago, my husband and I were shopping for ski jackets for ourselves and we couldn’t find anything that we liked. Nothing was stylish, had a great fit, and had all the necessary aspects without costing at least $600 or more. A lot of ski brands push the $1,000 boundaries or more these days. Then we had a thought; there is a huge opportunity to create a direct consumer skiwear line. We both have MBAs and were thinking of all these other places where direct consumer has been super successful. We contemplated and asked ourselves: is there anyone doing this in skiwear? Can we do it i? We spent the last two years researching the industry, developing the product, and then testing the product. We have taken it all over three different continents. It has really been a whirlwind the last few years and now we have finally launched the debut collection of the ski jackets. 3 What is a five-year goal for the company? Do you want to be in big retailers or do you want to keep it small? In five years I hope that Orsden will be an alpine lifestyle brand. I hope we will have gone beyond the purely technical garments of ski jackets and ski pants and have really pushed into the more lifestyle products. We hope to keep everything in the direct to consumer model. So we will be selling on orsden.com now, but within five years it would be amazing to have our own store. 4 Have you skied in Europe? If so, where is your favorite place to ski? Yes, my favorite slopes are in Austria. It has an amazing terrain and is such a special place. 5 How do you compare yourself to the large ski brands on the market? The ski industry is a tough business because it is so seasonal. However, there is a lot of cost mixed into the ski shop price that we are able to eliminate through our direct consumer e-commerce. Bigger retail brands have to clear their inventory every season, so they are pricing at a level that even on a massive sale they are making a little money. With our jackets, we are able to sell it for about half the cost it would be in a ski shop. At this great value price point we still have an elevated aesthetic and color palette. It is a very clean streamline look. It has four-way stretch constriction on the exterior and interior, which means it’s very responsive and amazing to ski in, so it feels more like those $1,000 ski jackets when you put it on. It’s not the brights and neons you only wear on the slopes. You can wear Orsden jackets at the lodge and on the street in the city. You can incorporate our garments into your full winter lifestyle. 6 Are you planning to branch out into additional products like undergarments or boots? Yes! I was testing our ski pant prototype this morning up in Vermont. I split my time between Vermont and New York City. So yeah, we are definitely doing pants and then we will go into the mid and base layers and then into the more lifestyle products like sweaters and hats. It is a bit surreal to see all of this come to life so quickly but we are so happy with the jackets and the response that we’ve been getting so far. 7 What are you doing in terms of promoting the brand? What are your most important channels? Online is obviously a huge component of our business because that is the place where our ski jackets are sold, so we are trying to drive as much traffic to the site as possible through a lot of digital marketing. But, at the end of the day, you still want people to try on the product. There is a luxurious feel about it that is a little hard to convey on the website. So we are doing a lot of events throughout the ski season. We are trying to do après ski events like happy hours at the end of the ski day, mostly in Vermont, but a few out west as well. Sydney Lorch Sydney is a journalism and psychology student at the University of Miami. She is a Jewish New Yorker who has brought her New York attitude and spunk to the hot streets of Miami. She also writes for The Odyssey.