One of the coolest local brands coming out with designs for women is She Shreds, an extreme sports fueled business that has been catering to women's style and fashion since their launch back in 2013. Among the gear you can find are hoodies, beanies, sweaters, hats, leggings, neck gaiters and even snowboards, all with their own unique touch from the company to make it durable and stand out in the powder. Today we chat with the founder of She Shreds, Gina Duffy, about her career and starting up the company, as well as where they're headed down the line. (All pictures courtesy of She Shreds.
Gavin: Hey Gina, first thing, tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a huge action sports fanatic and fashion junkie implant from downtown Chicago. Previously worked at an advertising agency for 15 years in Chicago. Also worked with the team who brought the first Moncler store to the U.S. in Aspen. I’ve also worked with my husband’s experiential marketing company forever doing talent styling, environmental design and also coaching wakeboarding and wakesurfing
for his action sports events company. Wow, that was a mouthful!
Gavin: What first got you interested in extreme sports and fashion?
After buying my first Vogue
at age 12 (with some birthday money), I was hooked on fashion. After riding my first kneeboard at 14, I was hooked on action sports. (That’s all there was at the time!) After stealing my brother’s skateboard when he wasn’t home and skateboarder magazines in the mid-'80s, I was hooked on the culture and the entire music art and fashion scene it created. In my 20’s I was introduced to wakeboarding and fell in love with it. I started snowboarding to “stay in shape” for wakeboard season and ended up falling even more in love with snowboarding and the mountains. Fast forward and here I am living on the side of Powder Mountain!
Gavin: What was it like for you breaking into the culture locally as a teenager?
There wasn’t much of an action sports culture where I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. It was more about team sports which I participated in, but didn’t really like very much. It wasn’t until my 20’s that I was introduced to wakeboarding and wished I had been doing that my entire life instead of volleyball.
Gavin: What was your experience being involved with something that, at that time, was very male-driven industry both in the presentation and the style?
Well as I mentioned, I started by stealing my brother’s skateboard because no girls I knew rode, there were no female boards/board companies. As I was introduced to the wake scene there were no female boards or bindings either. I was usually the only girl on the boat but always trying to rally other girls to come try it out. Midwest…not a huge scene so it was always difficult to hang with other girls around these sports. It can get a little lonely being the only girl
but it made me push myself more if I had to hang with the guys.
Gavin: What was the catalyst that made you take an active interest in the fashion and lifestyle of extreme sports?
Really, it was working for my husband’s company. I come from an advertising and marketing background. I had been working at an agency in downtown Chicago and was burnt out for a while. I have also worked closely with my husband’s companies in experiential marketing. I’ve had the opportunity to work with him on creative content for events, environmental design and talent styling for big brands. He also has an action sports company (Allactionsports.com) where I’ve had the opportunity to coach wakeboarding and wakesurfing
. Working with him on both companies whether it’s styling models or coaching wakeboarding have been incredibly fulfilling for me.
Gavin: How did the idea for She Shreds come about and what was it like for you putting the company together?
Living in Chicago we were always finding ourselves going far away from the city to do the things we loved. We decided it was time for a change. After our last snowboard vacation to Utah we completely uprooted our lives and moved to the side of Powder Mountain 7 weeks later to have instant access to the sports that we loved and nourished our soul. Moving here was so inspiring. I started thinking if I could make that crazy move happen to live where I vacationed…what else was possible?!? I really wanted my career to be something that I was passionate about. What was the next phase of my life going to look like? Now living in this action/adventure sports mecca and touching these sports every day I had noticed a huge gap in what was out there for women in:
apparel. Gear. Access. INSPIRATION. EQUALITY. I wanted to fill this gap and give females a place they could go that catered only to them, a place they could shop for female gear presented to them by another female athlete—not some “dude” in a board shop. I wanted it to be an online store so I could reach as many girls as possible around the world (and also so I could get out and snowboard on a powder day!). It wasn’t enough to only be a store. I also wanted to be a brand. A brand that represented all the amazing girls out there pushing their limits, being strong and powerful. The serious athletes. And the girls just seriously STOKED to ride. I told only my husband and my best friend about my idea. I was petrified they wouldn’t be as excited about the idea as I was, but they actually WERE! And they wanted to help me…fast forward about 15 months and here we are.
Gavin: When it came to the product line, how did you choose who to go through when creating new items like hoodies or hats?
I just try to create things I would like to wear that are super comfortable and go from there. I work closely with our graphic designer to design things that aren’t your typical pink everywher—we like a bit of a boyish aesthetic
with a hint of femininity. Actually guys buy our hats all the time. I see dudes on the hill with SheShreds beanies and stickers on their boards and skis. I think it’s so amazing all the guys who want to support the girls out there. And I think it’s cool when a guy wants to wear our stuff as well. You can’t imagine how many times I’ve been asked when I’m going to do a “HeShreds” line. In the future I definitely want to get into more technical apparel and outerwear.
Gavin: You launched the company back in 2013, what was it like for you during the first year of business?
Extremely tough but extremely inspiring at the same time. I don’t know what I would do if my husband wasn’t by my side working on this with me. It would be incredibly scary and lonely. Starting your own business is not for the faint of heart, especially when you are funding it yourself. I don’t sleep a lot. Although we’ve worked really hard and people are taking notice. We’ve got some momentum and brands, companies and organizations are reaching out to us to work together on events, collaborations, etc. I was also humbled by all of the girls, moms and dads who have reached out to us to thank us for what we’re doing and the positive message we’re putting out there. So many moms tell me that their daughters don’t have many friends at school because they like to do the stuff boys do (snowboard, wakeboard, skateboard) and with SheShreds and our team of girls around the company they feel like they belong and they’ve found “their people.”
Gavin: What's the process like for you when choosing new gear to make, from design to final product?
It’s so much harder than anyone thinks! There’s so many things I want to make I have to really reign myself in. First is usually color palette to set the tone. Then second guessing myself a million times until I see the final product on the model and then I’m happy.
Gavin: At the moment you have a cool team of sponsored athletes, who is currently on board and how did you go about choosing who to work with?
Taylor McCullough was our first sponsored athlete. We met her and her dad at SurfExpo in Orlando in 2013. Some friends of ours from the Midwest introduced us and we loved her riding first and foremost and then her personality. She’s a little bit quiet and humble for being ranked #5 in the world of female pro wakeboarders. And she’s only 16! Pretty crazy. She can throw down some insane tricks and she gets huge air. She’s also been working hard in the cable park lately so she’s a double threat! Kaitlyn “Koko” Adams – I found her on social media or she found us, I don’t remember. She was this little 7-year-old who competes wake and snow but does tricks
that most guys can’t even pull off. She’s fiercely competitive and travels tens of thousands of miles a year competing all over. In her off time, she does crossfit
! She’s our little “grom
phenom.” Everyone adores her and loves to cheer her on. Livia Molodyh
– we recently signed her this winter. She’s an incredible slopestyle rider with just this floaty, effortless style and blows my mind that she’s only 16. We were introduced to her by some friends of ours from Windell’s Camp. She also trained with the Olympic boardercross team this summer for a few weeks. She races with a park board and kills it! Liv Hetzel – She’s actually one of our ambassadors and she competes mostly snow but does some skate as well. She’s such a huge advocate of getting girls involved in these sports and she really had a breakthrough snow season and was invited to compete at the Transworld TransAm finals at Big Bear. We were stoked to move her up to team athlete.
Gavin: How did the decision come about to partner with BackCountry and how has that relationship worked out for both of you?
We were familiar with BackCountry and had been customers ourselves as I’m sure most people involved in these sports are. We did some research and found they had an affiliate program. These programs aren’t really a big secret but we were new to retail and it was a great discovery for us. We sent them a five-page presentation with what She Shreds is about and what we intended to do for
females, they dismissed all of their normal protocols and signed us immediately to their program. Normally, this is unheard of without even having a website yet or any sales history. They loved the idea of female-focused gear reviews and marketing.
Gavin: The primary focus on the website at the moment is winter gear and casual wear for whatever else. Are there any plans yet to fully expand into skate or water sports yet, or are you focused on establishing yourselves in winter gear for the time being?
We are already heavily involved in wake
industry. Summer line is in production now and working on some female-focused clinics and comps
right here in Utah and nationally! Stay tuned. We would love to be way more involved in skate than we are. We love it, we love the girls around it and want to get more involved in comps
and events. It’s a matter of time and resources at this point. We do offer a custom longboard on the site right now and we have a number of longboard and downhill ambassadors representing. We’ve sponsored a few skate events last year but definitely want to do more.
Gavin: What would you say is the long-term goal for She Shreds, both towards fashion and the sports you cater to?
We want the SheShreds logo to be a symbol of sisterhood. And we’re definitely getting that message out. Sponsored athlete, Liv Hetzel actually captured EXACTLY the way we want females to feel about our brand. When she was asked what it meant to her to be part of SheShreds. She said, “Even if I’m the only girl on the hill or in the skatepark, I never feel alone.” We want every girl and woman to experience these sports. But it’s not just the sports, it’s the emotion behind what these sports bring to your life. Participating in these sports require that you take risks. Pushing ourselves mentally and physically at the same time inspires courage, growth
and freedom. FREEDOM OF FEAR. That’s powerful and that’s life changing. Also, we’re trying to change the way women are portrayed in and around these sports. Curvy girls are active too…not all girls who are healthy and active are a size 4 or 6. In fact, few of them are. Most companies and brands in this industry are ignoring that fact. We embrace every girl, every size and are accommodating them by carrying larger sizes. We don’t want these girls to have to resort to buying men’s sizes to get involved as they’ve had to in the past. We want them to feel free, supported and INCLUDED. In essence we’re working hard with the resources we have to push ourselves and other companies for better R&D on gear, apparel, outwear, more funds going to females competing in these sports, more events and learning propositions that are female friendly to continue to grow these sports.
Gavin: Before the season fully closes, what events do you have left that are coming up?
Well we don’t have an off-season since we’re wake, snow
and skate. We just wrapped up our weekly Ladies Night at Powder Mountain which was a great success. Unfortunately, we had to wrap it up sooner than anticipated due to the lack of snow. For mud season, we are partnering with FlowRider Utah in Ogden starting April 8 every Wednesday. $15 for three hours with Dee Spencer a national female champion coaching, great music, free raffle and lots of laughs. Our goal is to ride sideways all year long and this is a great transition from snow to wake season. We’re super stoked about the event! Planning stages for lots of wake events this summer as well!
Gavin: What can we expect from you and She Shreds over the rest of 2015?
Super excited for the summer collection that should be out by mid-April and all the events and collaborations we’re in the midst of…some things that I can’t talk about yet but give us a follow on Facebook
to get updates! Of course, lots more shredding and working with and meeting amazing girls every day around these sports. I (and we) at SheShreds try to live by our badge of empowerment we’ve recently put on our last collection. It sums up this brand and this lifestyle and reminds you to: “BE BRAVE, BE BOLD, LIVE FREE. SHRED ON.”