Don’t let the search for new snow apparel leave your wallet reeling in fear.
Choose Orsden and get premium high performance snow apparel at an outrageously reasonable price
To find out more behind how Orsden got its start and what’s in store for the future, Josh interviews Orsden founder, Sara Segall
More about the episode...
Josh sits down with Orsden founder Sara Segall. Sara always knew that she was destined for entrepreneurship but it wouldn’t be until she was tirelessly searching for the perfect ski jacket that the first idea for Orsden would be born. Fast Forward a couple years and Orsden is alive and thriving, offering premium and high performance snow apparel, directly to the consumer at extremely competitive prices. In this episode Sara walks us through what happened between the idea of conception, present day and, beyond of Orsden.
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- Check out Orsden’s website
- Men and Women apparel from Orsden
- More about Orsden
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What is Orsden all about?
“Orsden is a direct to consumer ski and apparel company. So, what that means is we create really high performance stylish gear for your winter exploits and we sell it directly to you online at Orsden.com or events, which means you’re getting an amazing quality product for a more accessible price point…”
What lead you to start an apparel brand in the outdoor space?
“So it’s a bit of a circuitous path, I would say, to how I became a ski-penuer. I was always interested in the retail industry and fashion and knew I wanted to start a company at some point...I also happen to be an avid skier...Orsden really came about from a lightbulb moment...I just graduated from business school, I was at Stratton Mt. our home mountain in vermont and I was searching for a ski jacket…”
How did you meet your husband and Orsden co-founder, Steve?
“Before I went to business school I lived in Washington D.C...we met through friends and skiing was something that we bonded over early on...We met very far from a mountain, we met in a swamp in Washington D.C. about 10 years ago…”
What did you do to help get things off the ground when you started?
“There’s a few things; first I worked at some luxury retail companies so I knew about the space and high level design. Secondly, what I did for two years when I was working on Orsden and had graduated from business school, I worked at Revlon the cosmetics company...my role was to basically take a product from conception and an idea all the way through the manufacturing process to marketing it on a shelf in the store…”
How did you go from launching your business to scaling it?
“...It was a huge priority for us to acquire our customers from four key channels. One is your digital advertising and social media, the standard playbook for an ecommerce brand...for us, at first we didn’t know what to expect if anyone would buy a jacket from a brand they’ve never heard of...we quickly found out that people will, which is exciting…”
What sort of places would you table at?
“As I like to say Orsden is all about the alpine live, from the skiing to the travel to the comradery and a big part of that is apres ski. What we’ve found to be effective is to go to lodges and bars on or near ski resorts and sponsor apres ski. Drinks on Orsden, try out our gear. It creates a really amazing environment…”
Did you start off full time right away?
“...we spent almost a year working on the idea, doing the right sourcing, finding the right partners, and tested our first prototypes in December of 2015...after we had those first prototypes, I scaled back my other employment and quit that in Spring of 2015…”
Was the goal to get Orsden to run on its own?
“I think something important for us, and why I always wanted to start a business was the idea of independence. It was very important for me early on to be an independent brand and put our money where our mouth is. Orsden has been self funded up until this point…”
Did you have any mentors who helped you build Orsden?
“There’s not one specific mentor, there have been a lot of people who have given me their time and expertise to advise and help guides our direction for Orsden...A lot of support from our families who have been extremely encouraging in this endeavor…”
What is your commitment to sustainability?
“It definitely is a problem that needs tackling, especially when you’re making really high performance stuff...early on we’ve been focused on more of the fair trade and labor aspects of sustainability so, it was really important to us to find a manufacture who was really aligned with our beliefs...we are researching and looking into sustainable fabrics that will offer the type of performance that we need…our third product that we’re working on is looking like it will be likely made in the United States from a recycled material...”
What is an average day at Orsden like?
“The one thing that I would say is interesting about being in the winter spots business is it’s so seasonal and so insane for six months out of the year and then the other six months is more like a normal job or workday...I get up early and answer all our emails. Once I get done with those, I like to sneak up for a few runs on the mountain, it’s good for clearing the mind and getting focused for the day and, then it’s back to work…”
What is the significance of the name Orsden?
“It comes from a French term for a snowbear, ‘ours de neige.’ It’s not a real creature but, it’s a mythical creature that inspires our brand...we wanted something that evoked what it’s like to be on a mountain, so tough and playful is what our snowbear encapsulates…”
What has been one of the hardest parts about starting your business?
“I think the hardest part is awareness. We love our product, we feel passionate about it, we have some super fans but, how can you scream loud enough so more people know about it and really get the name out there...it’s always a challenge to see how we can be creative and make the most of the marketing spend that we do have in order to really continue to get the brand out there…”
What is your greatest fear and how do you manage it?
“No snow...Generally speaking I think some of them are these macro issues. There’s a lot in the outdoor industry that can goofily be out of your control...There’s always that tension and nervousness that you want to make sure your customers are happy with the product…”
What have been some of the biggest mistakes that you’ve made?
“I don’t like to say mistakes, I like to say learning opportunities. One big one has to do with team and finding the right partners. I’ve learned that you really need to thoroughly vet, who you’re working with on all aspects of the brand…”
What advice would you give someone that wanted to start a business?
“My heart would say ‘just do it’...my brain would say ‘thoroughly vet everything. You have an idea, you have a concept, really try to find a way to make an MVP’... if you’re able to combine those two things, the business side of it and the passion...I say do it…”
Where do you see Orsden headed into the future?
“It’s something I think of often. I think of the 1-5 year horizon we’re looking to scale sustainably with one or two new products a year and maintain our independence...Longer term, I think that it’s more of the same, expanding a little bit outside strictly ski but, I think it’s important to stay true to your core values…”
Is the seasonal part of the business a concern?
“It’s a challenge...I think you can thrive and still be pretty ski/snowboard/winter sport focused. We’ve found that even in the summer when we try to do things like ‘winter in the summer’ our followers on instagram are not interested...I think the play for us is to follow the snow so you can ski somewhere any month of the year…”
What’s the best part about running Orsden?
“A lot of it is the independence. IT’s such an amazing feeling to see something come to life and be able to have your hands in all aspects of the brand. IT’s kind of like a child that you get to mold and grow to what you want it to be. There’s a lot of pride too that goes into when you see the product on the slopes…”