Women in the Industry - SheShreds Founder Gina Duffy

Diana Sciandra

Diana talked to Gina Duffy, the founder of an online action sports retailer and apparel line

SheShreds.co about what it’s like starting a business in the action sports industry.

Where did you grow up?
Outside of Chicago, then moved to downtown Chicago where I lived until 2012

When did you start snowboarding?
About 10 years ago.  I skied when I was younger on the ice hills of Wisconsin but wasn’t that into it. It wasn’t until my first trip to Aspen snowboarding that I was like “Oh, this is what it’s supposed to be like!  Now I get it.”  After that, it was all over, snowboarding, mountains…all of it. I was head over heels.

Home mountain?
Powder Mountain

Tell us about your previous 9 to 5 before you started SheShreds.
I worked at an advertising agency for 15 years in Chicago, and worked with the team who brought the first Moncler store to the US in Aspen.  I’ve also worked with my husband’s experiential marketing company for years, doing talent styling, environmental design.  Plus I coach wakeboarding and wakesurfing for his action sports events company.

Tell us about why you started SheShreds and the challenges/successes you faced?
After our last snowboard vacation to Utah in 2012, we completely uprooted our lives and moved to the side of Powder Mountain just seven weeks later.  Moving here was so inspiring. I started thinking, if I could make that crazy, impulsive move happen, what else was possible?  I wanted my career to be something that I was passionate about. I love fashion and I’m also an action/adventure sports fanatic. Touching these sports every day I had noticed a huge gap in what was available to women.

First of all, money!  We’ve used our own money to fund the company and it’s been really scary.  We also don’t have an advertising budget and rely solely on social media, PR, and events to get the word out.  But it’s working!  Last summer we put together an Indiegogo campaign that was very successful and helped tremendously.

Also, there no “days off” when you own your own company and are new and trying to grow. Every minute, I’m thinking about what I need to do next and what I need to do better.  Lastly, I’ve always been a “behind the scenes” person. It’s been really difficult being the person who is front and center all the time, but it’s helped me grow tremendously and conquer some of my biggest fears. 

Successes:  Realizing this company is really about a community. We have had incredible response from girls (young & old) who wanted to be a part of the company, the brand and this movement somehow. We used this momentum to create our ambassador program.  These girls are so passionate about their sports!  They have overcome hardships, and made such sacrifices to follow their hearts, and interacting with these girls every day is incredible. 

There’s no better feeling than seeing a little girl grom out on the hill rocking our apparel or a sticker on their board. Knowing that my company is giving girls & women encouragement is so huge to me.  Meeting amazing women in the industry has been fantastic as well!

Where would you be if you never snowboarded?
So funny, I think about that a lot.  Probably in Austin, TX living on Lake Austin wakesurfing or something. I always thought I was a warm weather person until I found the mountains and snowboarding.

One thing every women needs to know when starting her own business in the action sports industry is…..?
How about three things? 
- Never take no for an answer.
- Learn how to word what you are asking for to get the answer/response you want.  Make it about what “they” are getting out of the deal.
- Don’t be afraid to piss people off. Stand by what you believe in and say what you mean, even if people might not like it.

What would you say to that girl or women trying snowboarding for the first time?
Don’t give up, get mad! It’s frustrating for sure. But once you “get it”, it’s pure heaven.  Everyone has been where you are. I always feel for beginners. We were all there once!  Also, get a coach/instructor for a few hours (not a friend, boyfriend or anyone you know!)  If you’re on a budget, go with some friends and split the cost. It’s worth every penny.

Most embarrassing thing to happen to you on the hill?
Probably plowing some people down trying to get off the lift when I was still learning. That’s the worst…took me FOREVER to learn to get off the dang lift properly!

Favorite on hill snack?
I usually make a smoothie (banana, blueberry, spinach, almond milk) before I head out so I’m good to go till I’m done!

What is your passion?
I found that after starting SheShreds my passion has changed.  It’s all about supporting the girls involved in these sports and inspiring them to push their boundaries, challenge themselves and help them feel like they can conquer the world.

What does Sheshreds provide that is unique to the action sports world?
We provide action/adventure sports apparel, gear and INSPIRATION by female athletes, for female athletes. We have our own signature apparel that we like to call our “badge of empowerment”. It’s not just about sports — it’s about self-expression. We want girls to look good and feel good while shredding. 

We also offer gear from other brands.  I wanted to give girls a really customized, female-focused experience when they shop on our website.  We put together the gear in a fun editorial-like approach and ask our crew of athletes and ambassadors for feedback and product recommendations. We especially want to empower brands such as Coalition Snow, a new female-specific ski and snowboard brand,  and give them a place to showcase their gear. 

Our third focus is providing access to girls in action sports.  We’ve got an events section where you can check out what’s going on each month.  We run our own events and sponsor events as well.

SheShreds events - author Diana and team athlete Erika Vikander with Gina and a group of participants at Ladies Night at Powder Mountain.

How do you decide who to sponsor? And who will be ambassadors?

For fully sponsored athletes and ambassadors alike, first and foremost you have to be cool and you have to be kind. It’s extremely important to me that we have down-to-earth, outgoing, friendly girls representing us in these sports. If we want to grow them we need to be 100% inclusive.

For our fully sponsored athletes we don’t have any specific guidelines, but you have to really wow us. We have some incredible girls in snow right now who just killed it at USASA Nationals…Livia Molodyh who’s 15 and just won 1st in Slopestyle and Boardercross and came in 4th in pipe (that’s not even what she trains for!) Then we have 8 year old Kaitlyn “Koko” Adams who is just this little powerhouse.  She took home 1st in Park & Slopestyle in her division and already has dreams of going to the Olympics.  These girls are on fire
but they’re grounded and you can see how much they want to grow the sport.

Ambassadors show off the 2015 Spring/Summer line for a photo shoot.

Ambassadors range in age from 4 to 40. Although some of them are very talented, that is not necessarily my primary goal.  I want the girl who is the MOST PASSIONATE about her sport(s).

What are you working on right now?

I’m working on some wakeboard and wakesurf clinics for the summer to keep the “Ladies Night” event going all year long. One of our goals is to get girls riding sideways all year with fun events, learning new things and meeting other like-minded ladies.  A few of the resorts in Utah have already reached out to us about next snow season. We are super excited that our Ladies Night at Powder Mountain was a success and we can grow it and bring it to as many resorts as possible.  HOPING to get away for a few days and get out to Hood as well this summer.

2015 Spring/Summer Collection

We’ve just launched our spring/summer collection, and also working on a mid summer capsule collection.  In about two weeks, we’ll begin working on the winter line.
And we’re talking to the amazing ladies at Shred Betties to see how we can work together to support the girls out there in the most thoughful, impactful way possible.
Anything else to add?
Beyond stoked about all of the above! Every day brings new opportunites, new people calling and emailing so there’s a lot to be excited about everyday.

You can reach out to us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or give us a shout on social media:
Website: sheshreds.co
FB: sheshreds.co
Twitter: sheshredsco
Instagram: Sheshredsco
Pinterest: Sheshredsco

Posted by Kelly Vance on 05/12/15

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