Allyson Leang is founder of The Ski Lab, a small “mom-and-pop” operation in Park City, Utah. She and her husband handcraft custom skis for everyone from seasoned backcountry experts to newcomers to the sport, and provide DIY-minded ski and snowboard-building enthusiasts with high-quality materials and supplies.
Every pair of Ski Lab skis is unique, designed to meet each individual skier’s needs, including custom shape and flex to suit that person’s skiing style–and every pair, of course, features unique graphics and personal touches that make those skis truly one of a kind.
Five years after Allyson and The Ski Lab got its start, she is now a finalist in OIWC’s Pitchfest! And though she won’t be traveling far for Pitchfest, in our #WomenofPitchfest interview, she shares a little bit about the journey she’s taken so far–and where she sees The Ski Lab headed next.
What inspired you to found The Ski Lab?
I had just taken a leave from teaching, and was looking for a work-from-home opportunity so I could stay home with my infant daughter. My husband encouraged me to start The Ski Lab because of his experience as one of the founders of Skibuilders.com, an online forum for DIY ski and snowboard builders. We had been building skis since 2004, and we wanted to continue to support the growing needs that other builders were experiencing, while still building skis ourselves. As a result, we started The Ski Lab in 2011 to provide a one stop shop for raw materials, supplies, education, and resources for the ski and snowboard building community.
What has your experience been like, so far, as a female entrepreneur in the outdoor industry?
It’s been pretty positive overall. Over the years, I’ve developed some really good relationships with vendors, customers, and local ski and snowboard builders. For me, that’s the best part about being an entrepreneur in this industry–connecting with others about our passion for snow and the outdoors and supporting a community of builders.
Why did you decide now was the moment to apply for Pitchfest? What are you hoping you and The Ski Lab will gain from the Pitchfest experience?
I’m part of a peer entrepreneur group at a local organization in Park City called Pandolabs. The group is made up of several local entrepreneurs, ranging in experience from beginner to expert. When I expressed to them my interest in growing The Ski Lab, but my challenges in doing so, the managing director, Ted McAleer, as well as several people in that group encouraged me to apply for Pitchfest. From the Pitchfest experience, I hope to gain guidance and mentorship from professionals in the outdoor industry on how to expand and improve our current operations, as well as network with other entrepreneurs and industry influencers.
And what has the mentorship side of Pitchfest been like, for you?
The mentorship and coaching experience throughout this program has been invaluable. Not only has my mentor Todd Stockbauer helped me create a succinct and clear pitch to present, but he’s also helped me focus on some ways to improve and grow the business in the future. For example, I often get caught up in the day-to-day details of running this business, and struggle to step away and see the bigger picture. Todd has helped me recognize the difference between working “in the business” vs. “on the business,” and has helped me focus on the importance of giving adequate time to each on a weekly basis.
What are your goals for The Ski Lab in the next year or two?
There are still a lot of people out there who don’t know that building your own skis or snowboards is an option. Not only do I want to expose more people to the world of ski and snowboard building, but I want to grow this business–specifically by increasing our sales, expanding the custom ski side of our business, and developing partnerships with other people and companies who can help me make the best business decisions for our future.
What’s the best adventure you’ve been on recently?
I’ve had many fantastic days in the mountains over the years, but the best adventure I’ve been on recently has definitely been motherhood. I have three spirited and active kids ages 5, 3, and 1, and everyday is a new adventure with them!
What is your spirit biome?
Snowy mountains in the sunshine.
My perfect day outdoors is cold, bluebird day on my skis in the backcountry–finished off with a beer and a burger by the fire.