With it being the height of ski season, we sat down with Sara Segall, Founder of Orsden, a high performance ski jacket that takes you from the slopes to the lodge. During our discussion, Sara explains her direct to consumer e-commerce brand, as well as what mountains we should be checking out this season.
- What inspired you to create your own ski wear line? My career end-goal had always been to start my own retail company, but I didn’t have a firm idea of what kind of product I’d sell. Then I had an a-ha, light bulb moment, when my husband, Steven, and I were shopping for ski jackets a few years ago at our home mountain, Stratton, in Vermont. We’re both avid skiers and wanted new jackets, but couldn’t get over the high prices, $600+ for anything we liked, or many of the styles that appeared outdated or unflattering.
We realized there was an opportunity to create a direct to consumer ski apparel company. Through that business model, we could develop high performance apparel with clean, streamlined styling and sell it for much less than something comparable in a ski shop. So that’s how Orsden was born, and our debut collection delivers on that concept. The men’s and women’s jackets feature 4-way stretch construction for ease of movement, 20k/20k waterproof breathable ratings to keep you dry and comfortable, and lightweight insulation for warmth without bulk all in refined colors that take you from the slopes to the lodge and beyond for only $330.
- Tell us about your logo and how did you decide on the Orsden Bear?Orsden is derived from the French term for a snow bear, ours de neige. It’s our mythical spirit animal. Like all bears, the snow bear is both tough and playful, which serves as the inspiration for our brand. The logo is evocative of a bear in a more humanist style. I like to think that the snow bear is resting his head on his paws, which form the O.
- When did your passion for skiing first begin?I’ve always been extremely active, swimming competitively for 12 years and generally loving most sports that came my way. During college at Dartmouth, though, was when I really started to love the mountains and the whole lifestyle around it. The best way to deal with the frigid New Hampshire cold was to actually just go out into it and embrace the activities you can only do in those conditions, skiing being chief among them! Then when I met my husband, Steven, shortly after college, skiing was something that we both connected on. His parents like to tell a story that as a kid Steven would say he could never marry someone who didn’t ski. And now, we’re ski-preneuers!
- How many different mountains have you skied at and how do you rank your favorite ones?Too many to count! I’ve been fortunate to ski on 3 different continents and experience some amazing mountains. Each mountain really has it’s own unique character. My current favorite is St. Anton in Austria. It’s the quintessential alpine town. Supposedly, it’s where modern ski technique was invented. It has beautiful terrain, great lodging (I love the Himmelhof), and an active après scene. It has a more accessible luxury feel than a lot of other resorts in the Alps. You can actually afford to indulge in what St. Anton has to offer.
Then in the US, out west you can never go wrong with Jackson Hole and in the east Stowe is a great mix of challenging terrain and a classic New England town. Although, I obviously have to count Stratton in there somewhere too since it’s our home mountain and I have a personal connection there.
- How were you able to create such a high-performance jacket at an affordable price point?It’s all about our direct to consumer business model, which allows us to get rid of the traditional retail markup. I’d seen it done in so many industries from eyeglasses to mattresses and t-shirts, but no one was doing it for ski apparel that combined sleek styling and high performance. The ski industry is a tough business because it is so seasonal and weather dependent. Because of those and other challenges with a traditional retail model, there is a lot mixed into a ski shop price that we are able to eliminate without sacrificing on quality. Our goal is to make premium ski apparel a more affordable luxury.
- Right now, you only sell jackets… are you planning on expanding?Yes! Ski pants are next up. Again, we’re looking to create a high-end pant without the mark up that doesn’t sacrifice on performance or fit. We’ll be launching a
Kickstarter campaign at the end of January for the pants. Then, I’d like to expand into kids, more styles, and eventually mid and base layers.