What happens when you get 40 women involved in the snowboard industry together for a weekend at Kirkwood Ski Resort in Tahoe? You have a fun couple of days filled with lots of riding and of course, networking.
And that’s exactly what happened at the first Gathering of the Goddesses industry conference organized by Cristin Inglis. The package included two days of lift tickets, two nights’ lodging, some meals, and beverages.
“I had a lot of concerns going into this,” said Inglis during the conference. “But I just gave it all up on the first day and rolled with the punches. It feels like everything worked itself out. Women keep coming up to me and telling me how much fun are having.”
Kristen Roach, owner of Kurvz, says that an event like this is important from an industry perspective: “It was nice to be at an event without the competition.” Lisa George, the marketing manager for Duotone, agrees: “I think it’s a no-pressure situation for us to sit down and talk in a casual atmosphere. I was able to learn more about things like line of credit, point of purchase, recruiting riders, and dealing with the Japanese market. It’s very educational, plus you get to meet the women you see at trade shows and are always saying ‘hi, how ya doing?’ but never really get to talk to.” But it wasn’t just about business. There was a lot of bonding in the form of clothing swaps, industry gossip, and rounds of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. “Riding is what our business is about. I wear-tested my own clothes and got to see how the clothes worked for other people,” says Janet Freeman, owner of Ton A’ WaWa/Betty outerwear. Freeman was just one of a handful of women manufacturers who tested products out on conference roommates and other women attending the event.
The supportive environment fostered by the weekend was definitely felt by all of the women, especially when riding. “I have never snowboarded with so many women before,” says Atlantis¿sponsored rider Shannon Smith, who flew in from Utah for the Gathering. “It’s nice to be with women for a change,” agrees Freeman.
As a company owner, Freeman said the weekend is very beneficial because she rarely finds a chance to talk to other women in the industry. Now, from her office in Portland, Freeman says the benefits of the event have continued beyond the weekend. “I feel like I can call up any one of those women and the door is open. I got a lot of advice from women who have been around the business a long time. And I have spoken to women about doing things to help each other out, like co-op advertising.”
Freeman says the positive after¿effect was fostered by casual discussions at the Gathering, which ranged from managing team riders to preventing zippers from catching. “Believe it or not, the little things never get discussed at shows because we’re too busy worrying about writing orders. They can really be important.” says Freeman.
Brotherhood Boards owner Angelica Sage agrees: “It was really great to meet all of these women and realize we are not enemies, but allies. This can be a lonely business for women. It’s nice to be able to call someone and know there is support.”
Next year Inglis says the weekend will be bigger and definitely more organized. “This was an experiment, and it worked¿a real learning experience for me,” she says. “But this is just the beginning of something. I see an association for women in the industry coming out of this year’s Gathering, and next year this is going to be on women’s calendars. They won’t want to miss it.”
For more information call Cristin Inglis at (714) 856-0123.