The post-college road trip is a must-do for lots of skiers and snowboarders, and Corinne Prevot is no different. Except Prevot is no ordinary ski bum. As the founder of Skida Headwear and Accessories, and a recent graduate of Middlebury College, where she was recognized as a Forbes All-Star Student Entrepreneur, Prevot’s epic post-grad ski road trip was actually a business trip with a lot of fun rolled in along the way. Her month-long journey started in late January, as she and two long-time friends and business associates, Caitlin Mitchell and George VanDercook, piled into her car and headed west.
“We called our trip Skidafest Destiny,” Prevot said. And just like the pioneers, they were on a quest to spread their brand westward. “Skida is a product that sells itself,” she explained. “It’s grown organically, and we’re at the point where I knew it was a good time to get into some new territory and get exposure in new areas.”
Prevot said over the past six years, since she sewed her first hat as a Nordic ski racer at Vermont’s Burke Mountain Academy, the business has grown simply by getting the product out there. “It’s our 6th year in business, and this year we were the gold sponsor at the Junior Nationals at Stowe. To have them ask Skida to be a lead sponsor and to look around and see so much Skida in the crowd was so heart-warming. It just spreads. It started with our team, then other teams wanted to wear Skida, then parents and coaches. Since we moved into our new office space last July, it’s been flying. We’ve been growing our web business, getting new accounts, figuring it out as we go. It’s been fun. So now I’m putting my effort into bringing that growth out west.”
The SIA Snow Show was a key part of the plan. The trip to Denver was an easy one, and their first time at the Show was a big hit. “Being at SIA was incredible. Being a part of the community and seeing how supportive people were made the biggest impression on us. Ed Wray and everybody at SIA has been such a huge help. They put us in the most wonderful location, here in the Vermont corner next to Darn Tough, who were so great and helpful. And it was good being next to the maple bacon ice cream.”
“I think everybody wants small businesses to grow, so everybody’s positive, super supportive, and connecting you with whoever they know that they think can help. This industry totally rules. To be in a room where everyone is involved in the industry is amazing; I’m so happy we joined SIA and came to the Show. It’s really paid off and I know this trip will be great for our business and help us take the next step,” she added.
One of Corinne’s favorite moments at the Show was getting to meet big mountain skier and Patagonia Ambassador Caroline Gleich. “I’m a huge fan. I went up to her at the Patagonia booth and asked her if she would try one of our hats. She said she would! It was so great meeting all these amazing people and inspiring athletes.”
When the closing bell sounded, and the last echoes of yodels left the building, Corinne and her friends continued the push westward. “We were gone for a full month. It was awesome, except for our ski box blowing off,” she said with a laugh. “After we left Denver we went up to Copper for the On-Snow Demo and then on to visit friends in Aspen for a few days. I wanted to do an Avy 1 course, so our next stop was Jackson Hole where I signed up to do the class, which ended up being really interesting. I’d never done anything like that before. Afterwards, it just kept snowing every day, so we stayed for as long as it snowed. We ended up being there for like 2 weeks!”
Although there was a lot of skiing to be done and a lot of powder to be had, the work was still a major part of the trip. “We have friends there who we stayed with and we spent time visiting a lot of independent shop owners; we worked and we skied every day. The western market is different, the whole vibe is different, so it was a great learning experience and so much fun. We found lots of mom and pop shops to talk to. Everyone was so happy with all the snow we were getting and so much sunshine as well. We haven’t spent that much time skiing out west, and all our friends were so welcoming and excited to share fresh snow and enthusiasm, everyone was so happy for us. It was great.”
Next stop was Sun Valley before heading home. “That was when our ski box flew off. We recovered our skis and they were OK, so we just shoved them into the car and kept going. It was a good thing it happened toward the end of the trip because we were basically living in our car, so it was a bit cramped after that. It was a great adventure!”
All in all, Prevot said the trip was an excellent learning experience, as well as great for business, with new connections made and new accounts signed all along the way. After a month on the road, she said it was good to be home, but Vermont is always a bit different from the Rocky Mountains.
“When we got back to Vermont it was a rude awakening after all that western sun and powder. It was minus 16 degrees! I was going to head up to ski at Stowe for the day, but I decided a nice leisurely breakfast might be a better idea,” she concluded with a laugh.
Next up for Prevot will be settling back into her Pine Street office and working on follow ups with her new contacts and accounts, as well as continuing to get the word out about her brand. “Now that we’re back, this spring I’m going to make marketing and PR a project. Ed Wray has sent some resources my way, and the SIA Research and other tools will be definitely be helpful,” she added. “I love having our business be homegrown and local; with all our manufacturing done in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. It took a lot of bootstrapping and we’ve been growing incrementally, in an organic way. I try not to force it. But this is the right time now for us to take these next steps, and going to SIA was such a hugely great decision to help us with that. I’m so happy we did it!”
To contact Corrine Prevot, learn more about Skida’s story, and to find out about Prevot’s new foundation Skida [+1], go to shopskida.com.