I got to talk to Icelantic’s CEO: Annelise Lovelie to ask her a few questions. Annelise is very open and genuine. Everyone at this company seems to have an awesome outlook, and I hope to include more talks with the Icelantic crew on the, soon to be released, Magpie Gear Review Podcast.
How do you feel about (secondary) schooling? How did school (college) affect your life?
AL: Well it’s interesting because, you know Ben, my business partner, only went to a year and a half of school. My dad didn’t ever go to school, and I have a bunch of friends who are in the same situation.
I think school’s really good for some people, especially if you don’t know exactly what you’re going to do. I think it’s a nice exposure to all sorts of different things. And it’s an amazing social opportunity to meet people. And I mean especially going into the outdoor industry and snowsports industry, UVM, where I went to school, is like a mecca for people in the snowsports industry. But that was not my plan. It just happened to be that tons of people in our industry went to UVM.
But no, I don’t think it’s for everyone, that’s my short answer. I definitely think that it’s changing a lot. I’m not going to make my kids go to College, if they have something that they want to pursue.
How old were you when you started working with Icelantic?
I think I was like 21 or 22.
At what moment in your career, have you felt most successful?
AL: I have little moments all the time, I would say right now, because we’re going through some major transitions at the business just to make it more sustainable. But I’ve had a lot of little successes where I’m realizing how much I’ve learned over the years in terms of business, and systems thinking, and stuff like that.
Just like working with our manufacturer on reducing product costs, and the calendar, and stuff like that. I’ve been faced with a lot of challenges. The past 12 months have been like the hardest 12 months I’ve ever had, solving problems and finding solutions.
What is Icelantic doing to move towards sustainability?
AL: All of our wood is sustainably harvested. So every single tree that we cut down for the cores in our skis is sustainably harvested and grown. Obviously all of our skis are made in Colorado. And we ship all of our skis out of Never Summer too. So our transportation footprint is more minimal in terms of environmental sustainability.
All of our clothes are also made in the states. All of our soft goods are made in Chicago at a place called Stock Manufacturing, who shares the same values we do. Then all of our hats are made at Knickerbocker in Brooklyn, New York, which is a similar company too.
But then there’s a lot to do with financial sustainability and social sustainability that I’m working on right now. Because this industry is really tough to break into if you’re a small company, and overall its just… it’s broken. You know it’s an old industry doing things the same way that they’ve been done for fifty, sixty years. Which are now not very sustainable, it just doesn’t make sense you know, like companies are selling their products below cost, overproduction and over saturation of product into the market. It’s just really unhealthy. I could get into that for three days.
Some of the things were doing in terms of financial sustainability to contribute to the overall sustainability of the industry are producing to demand, not overproducing, and not selling our product out at closeouts, working with supply partners and shops that understand our values and appreciate them.
I think there is a lot involved in the word sustainability.
What’s going to happen to retail?
AL: I sit on the board for SIA (Snowsports Industry of America) so that’s always a topic. I think that basic Darwinian evolution is going to happen. The strong will survive and the weak will die. Honestly that’s already what’s happening because retail is evolving and it’s becoming modern, if you look at Evo.com or Backountry.com some of these online retailers that are just kind of killing it, even Amazon.
So I think that specialty retailers are either going to adapt or die, but its interesting with skis, and hard goods, and boots, and backpacks. You have to fit those. People either have to come in and get them serviced, or get them fit. So I do think the retailers that stick around, and are smart, and adapt are going to become more service oriented.
And then I think that these new modern (online) retailers will continue to succeed.
I like to steal this one from Tim Ferris. What does the first hour of your day look like?
AL: I always drink a huge glass of warm lemon water. Then I take my new puppy out, take him walking, and we walk around, and we check out trees, and the weather. That takes about twenty minutes. Then I do my morning exercises, make a smoothie, and I try to always read something. I really cherish my morning. It’s my favorite part of the day.
What’s one thing you wish you did every day that you don’t end up doing?
AL: Let’s see, I haven’t been good at exercising every day because I’ve been too busy. Intentional exercising, I’ve just been walking lately.
Have you gotten into any of the standing desk stuff, or sitting on a bouncy ball, or any of that shenanigans?
AL: Yup, I do all of that. Right now I am sitting Indian style on the floor.
Working with friends can be tough. How do you guys handle conflict at Icelantic since you’re all so close?
AL: We just yell at each other. The best example is Ben and I. We’ve known each other since we were 11. Either one of us can get annoyed or frustrated or upset about something or the other one, and we don’t take it personally, which is kind of nice, and I think that’s just learned behavior and TRUST. I think that’s kind of what’s developed here: knowing that we all love each other, and care about each other, and kind of step away from taking things personally.
I’m for sure the worst one at it because I’m pretty emotional. But with people who I’m really close with like Ben and Parr, we can get into it no problem and get over it just as quickly.
You can out a selection of this interview at MTN Town Magazine.