A love for the outdoors is one reason to start a company, to then take that company and place your values front and center adds another layer to that reason. Coalition Snow has positioned themselves as a mission driven brand with a focus on women’s empowerment and environmental stewardship.
Jen Gurecki, CEO and all-around badass, keeps it real with us as she opens up about running a business, combining passion with purpose and staying sane along the way.
Allow us to introduce you to Coalition Snow.
Was there a defining moment when you just knew you had to start treating your passion as a business and no longer as a hobby? Or did you always know this specific passion of yours would become a business?
My passion is being outside in the mountains, and I’ve been privileged enough to be able to work in the outdoors, doing everything from tuning skis in the repair shop at my home mountain to pushing rubber down the river as a whitewater rafting guide. My calling, however, is advocating (oftentimes fighting) for gender equity. It wasn’t until I started Coalition Snow that I realized that I could meld my activism and business, and that’s what makes me get up every day and do it all over again. It took a few years for that to materialize, and that shift happened when we heard over and over again from our community that Coalition is more than a ski company. We also had to be willing to take calculated risks on how we show up in the world as a purpose-driven company who puts our values front and center.
We’ve all heard the struggles of starting a business and the questions that keep entrepreneurs up at night, what habits did you develop or strategies did (or still do) you use to keep your internal light shining bright even when you wanted to quit?
I want to quit a few times a week. Operating a ski company is so ridiculously difficult that I don’t even know why I started Coalition. Between the cost of hard goods to the seasonality to the impact of climate change, I really question my intellect and sanity on the daily. So what do I do? Well, I really like bourbon for starters. I exercise as much as I can, whether that’s skiing or riding my bike or yoga or that Youtube video with Amy that makes it hard to walk the next day. I make sure that I dedicate time every day to the creative side of my work, like recording our podcast Juicy Bits with Jillian Raymond and writing stories for Sisu Magazine. (Figuring that being creative is what fuels me has been instrumental.) I love my work wife Lauren Bello Okerman, so I make sure to call her 20 times a day.
Now that your passion project has become your 9 to 5 grind, what passions do you practice to keep your creative juices flowing during your dusk to dawn hours?
I am committed to my yoga practice and find that it really allows me to unwind and unplug. No phone, no talking, and really focusing on something that has nothing to do with work. I feel the same about cooking. Even though time is sparse, I love spending hours preparing a Netflix-ready meal. I’m also crazy passionate about sleep, and I try to get at least 8 hours a night. Without it, I’m worthless.
We know that your company and its individuals do good in many ways, what is the one do-good thing or principle you want more people to know about your brand and your team of badasses?
Coalition Snow is quite well known for our advocacy around gender equity, but what is lesser known is we weave gender into our commitment to sustainability. For every ski or snowboard we sell, we pay women in rural Kenya to plant trees in collaboration with the non-profit Zawadisha. These trees are both indigenous trees that help with combating deforestation, as well as fruit trees that provide women with income-generating opportunities. We have a long way to go to reach our sustainability goals, but this is one thing that we’re really proud of because of how it provides employment to women and benefits the environment.
What’s one more thing you want us to tell the world about your company?