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Ski Bums Grow Up. Then They Start Kickass Businesses.

Editor's Note: TGR Stash member Lisa Slagle drops in with a great quip about why she thinks ski bums make the best small business owners. Is this you? Thanks for sharing, Lisa!

It's been sunny all weekend, and as much as I love powder days, I absolutely and completely love snowboarding in the sunshine. I'm happy.

And so, while I usually write about nerdy designer topics, this one is for the ski bums.

Here is something I understand more every day:

Ski bums grow up.

(Most of them at least, aside from the iconic couple of old crusty guys who still party like they're 20 and look like they're 90.)

But anyway, ski bums grow up.

They leave the mountains or move down to Denver or have a kid or something. They move on. But the thing is, when you've lived and loved the ski bum life, you can never fully shake it. It's impossible to let that part of you die.

You can quiet it, but you can't kill it. 

You–mountain people–are my favorite clients. Collectively, you are growing up, getting your shit together, and starting businesses. Society seems to let you slip through the cracks, but I see you:

-You're the guy who lived at Alta for ten years and is finally moving down valley to start your own contracting company.

-You're the ripping lady who lived in Crested Butte for seven years and decided to finally dust off the master's degree and start your own environmental consulting business when slinging drinks didn't cut it anymore.

-You're the couple from Jackson who decided to start a family and your own real estate agency so you can afford to raise those kids here.

-You're the guy who had your sights on being a pro snowboarder until an injury changed that game, so you finished your business degree, restlessly and swiftly and are ready to put it to use. You will start the next major outerwear line.

-You're the entire crew at Backcountry where I used to work in Utah, and one by one, you're starting to branch out and do your own thing.

You are my people. 

Easing back on the shredding and turning up the "real" work is The Worst. It's a tough transition. Instead of putting on outerwear, you wear clothes that aren't even waterproof or breathable, and you go to work wishing you had more time to ski again, blankly staring at your computer screen knowing last year, you'd be hitting pillow lines at a 9:30 rope drop instead of this shit. 

You feel lost.
You feel bored.
You worry that your adrenal glad is broken and that you will never feel true fun again.

So you do the next scariest thing you can think of and start your own business.

You are my people.

The thing is, mountain people, you are awesome business owners. You know about risk. You know about passion. You know about hard work, early mornings, and tenacity. You know about loss and getting slammed. You know how to pick yourself up and try again and again until you succeed. You know how to feel things, with your heart and your head and the pit of your stomach. You might not know about web design or finance or spreadsheets, but you know how to show up, rain or shine, and make shit happen.

You are my favorite type of client, and your experiences will help your business succeed.


I see you, with your scars from the knee surgeries or those weird-looking collarbone lumps protruding from your shirt and that wild look in your eyes, and I know what you know. I've seen what you've seen. And together, we can pretend to fit into normal society. We just have to run our businesses with honor and boldness and as much grace as we can muster.

And powder days.

Or at least sunshine.

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About The Author

stash member lisa_slagle

Lisa Slagle is the owner of Wheelie Creative, a creative agency that specializes in building wild, meaningful, irreverent, and often hilarious content for brands in the outdoor industry. She's lots of fun.

Comments (7)


Preach it!

Great text!

I am the guy who lived on the beaches of Southern California 10 years followed by 4 years in Aspen then went back to school and became a Doctor.

    yo DR. how old were you when you came back to school? And why did you decide to do this ? I’m 28, in dead end (broken shoulder blade this season) and I am thinking about leaving ski-valley for study… but I still don’t know what to study..

      I was 34 when I left Aspen for the University of Colorado to study Integrative Physiology.  I’ve been a personal trainer and yoga instructor and the major seemed like something that would interest me, I wasn’t thinking about medical school then.  Fast forward 3 years and I realized that my major and life experience prepared me for success at med school, so I moved to Grand Cayman and started at St Matthews University Medical School in 2010.  I graduate this May and will begin residency at 41 years old this summer, and yes, I still rip

Send it!