Blazing Trails and Breaking Barriers
While men still predominantly lead the ski industry, women are making the come up and are coming in HOT. Part of this is thanks to so many women, like Leslie Baker-Brown, for seeing the need for change and having the courage to take action.
Leslie Baker-Brown is a lifelong skier, former athlete, marketing director for Blizzard-Tecnica, and global project leader for the Women 2 Women initiative. Leslie has been with Blizzard-Tecnica for over 30 years and, along with support from female ski professionals, started the W2W project in 2015.
Take Control of Your Skiing Experiences
A discussion with Leslie - where her passion for ski began and how the W2W project was born.
BCS: First things first, where and how did your passion for ski come about?
- LBB: My dad was passionate about skiing (like on the lift at 8 and it wasn’t a day unless you closed down the lifts at 4… and lunch was a PB & J in your pocket kind of passionate). I grew up in Massachusetts, but we made the trip to New Hampshire every weekend in the winter to ski – I started skiing at 3, was in the race program by 8 and never looked back! I was lucky to be able to turn my passion into a career.
BCS: I read about a past interview you had and there was a topic surrounding lessons you’ve learned in leadership. You make a statement that I absolutely love: “Sometimes you have to fail to win.” Can you lean into that more – what it means to you and what you mean to women who might be having difficulty finding their place or their voice?
- LBB: It’s been shown that women tend not to do something unless they are 100% sure they will be successful and that they have all the skills necessary. For example, a study showed that a women will look at a job description and if she does not fulfill all the requirements, she won’t apply, whereas a man might fulfill 50-75% of the requirements and will apply. You can’t learn or move forward or win if you don’t take risks and then learn from your failures and your successes.
BCS: What was a pivotal moment for you that made you realize women were yearning to be heard and the industry needed to listen?
- LBB: I wouldn’t say there was one pivotal moment but a slow progression of seeing more and more women getting into the industry and finding some success but really having to fight for it. I have to say the younger generation has really inspired me. They have banded together, and their collective voice is so much stronger than just one voice.
BCS: Was there a moment when you had to step out of your comfort zone to try and do the impossible? If so, how did you conquer that moment?
- LBB: I think being confident in what I had to say and speaking up took a lot of time. And sometimes, I’m sure this has happened to all of us, you come up with an idea, throw it out there and get no response only to have a guy in the room rephrase it 10 minutes later and everybody thinks it’s a great idea. I’ve become good at speaking up and saying – yeah, wasn’t that a great idea of mine!
BCS: Tell us about the Women 2 Women Project - how it was born, what the mission is, and what lies ahead.
- LBB: We began the program in 2015 with the following mission statement:Women2Women is a global Blizzard Tecnica program dedicated to creating a diverse and engaged community of female skiers and outdoor enthusiasts by being a trustworthy and credible source for product, education, and inspiration.
- We ask, we listen, and we act, all with the underlying goal of sharing experiences and celebrating our passion for the sport thereby enhancing the skiing and outdoor experience. We want to create a lifelong Blizzard Tecnica community of passionate female skiers and outdoorswomen. We have 4 pillars around which we work:
1. PRODUCT: To specifically design the most relevant and best performing women’s products that will inspire confidence and enhance the experience for passionate and committed female skiers and outdoor enthusiasts. For Women by Women.
2. EDUCATION: To create educational opportunities and offer resources for women to increase their knowledge in all aspects of skiing and the outdoors. Knowledge is power. It builds confidence, helps you find your voice and creates a sense of belonging. We aim to aid and encourage women to step into leadership roles that will ultimately create a comfortable space for all women.
BCS: Let’s talk a little bit about product - What are a few products you recommend (or are excited to announce) that Blizzard-Tecnica is offering for female skiers?
- LBB: The most versatile ski we have in our collection is the Black Pearl 88. It has been the best-selling ski in the U.S. (unisex or women’s!) for the last 5 years. It is easy, fun, can ski groomers or chopped up crud but for the more advanced skiers, you can also push it and it won’t back down.
- If you are strictly front side and want something a little narrower, the new Phoenix collection gives you great edge grip and front side performance. Both of these collections: the Black Pearl and Phoenix offer a women’s specific design in a few different waist widths so you can narrower down to the perfect ski.
- For boots it really is a question of fit and then what type of performance or versatility you are looking for. Mach1 (high performance) and Mach Sport (sport performance) offer different fits at the various flex levels in a 4 buckle overlap boot. The all-new Cochise offers a more versatile approach with a walk / hike mode.
BCS: As a message of advice and inspiration for our gals who may be new to the sport or feel intimidated by it – how can women start to step out of their comfort zones and take control of their own skiing experiences (on and off the snow)?
- LBB: Knowledge. Learn everything you can about everything to do with skiing. Knowledge gives you that confidence to go into the ski shop and know what you want for equipment. It gives you the confidence that you are dressed correctly and will stay warm all day. Knowing things like that just allow you to step into with confidence.
To learn more about the Women 2 Women project, visit https://www.blizzard-tecnica.com/us/en/women-project