Interview with Sophie Kelly, Co-Founder of Snooks – Female Snow Brand

Earlier this year I was really happy to discover I’d been selected as an official brand ambassador for Snooks – ground breaking women’s winter sports brand. They are the first British snowboard and ski outerwear brand dedicated solely to women. Having spent a number of years chasing snow myself, their mission speaks volumes to me. I caught up with co-founder, Sophie Kelly to get the low down on the story behind Snooks and their plans for 2018. I’m sure you’ll agree their vision is inspiring…make sure you check out their website and get involved! #JointheCharge

Snooks Co-Founder - Sophie Kelly

When did you realise there was a gap in the market for snow wear solely for women?

It actually all came about when Susie and I were discussing on a chair lift over a little whisky that we had heard numerous times, that the girls that we were on the trip with were all wearing guys jackets. Why is that!? Why are we doing the same? Essentially it comes down to the fit, the extra choice and the design. By design I mean, there is a slight aversion amongst many female riders to the Aztec patterns and purples…great for those that want that style but there was a real lack of choice for those who wanted quite the opposite: the opposite led us to the men’s section. Hence a gap in the market! Through further non whisky fueled chats, we really decided to give the vision of our brand full commitment and begin to create, technical stylish, and original designs for women, that maybe men could say, ‘hey cool jacket’ which has happened various times into our second range. The Paradigm is reversing and we want to stay influential to that!

Women are under-represented, under paid and underappreciated in action sports. Not just at the top level but at all levels. Girls should never be told they can’t do something because it’s for boys or it’s not feminine enough. We represent that ethos and want to encourage and inspire girls to give action sports a go – no matter what anybody else thinks. We want to get more girls out riding and enjoying the mountains together!

What makes SNOOKS gear so well suited to female riders?

Well our outerwear is really designed with women in mind from start to finish. As riders ourselves we have experienced first hand the frustrations in some designs, hence we have created larger sizing….because well, why should a dress size 12 be a size Large – I’m like HEY, whatcha saying!!? We also found jackets designed for women tend to come up a lot shorter whereas the riders we design for much prefer a longer length – keeps you warmer first off, and most of our customers say it’s just more…steezey. In both of our Reviver and Union Jackets, there is a very subtle and quite stylish inner pinch, just noticeable enough to make it flattering and not so boxy. For those that want it pinched in even more there is an adjustable waistband. Likewise for the trousers, in fact the Union Trousers have been our best seller! All outerwear is 10K waterproof and breathable and is manufactured to the highest quality in the UK.

How did the name SNOOKS come about?

I mean a Snook, is actually a fish – although we haven’t based the name of our brand around a fish! The name SNOOKS comes from an old English phrase, to cock a snook. It’s a very British, derisive gesture… a slightly politer middle finger! It’s our cheeky way of saying it’s time things changed. We are breaking the mould of our male-dominated industry, cocking a snook, and doing it for the girls!

Tell us about your experience as a Kickstarter company.

Kickstarter is an incredible platform to showcase your story and your product to a worldwide audience but there is a whole load of preparation, months and months of it, required to make it a success. There is a common misconception of creators who think they can launch a campaign with a cool video and success will follow – this is very much not the case – luckily we sought advice before hand and carried out some training with Crowdfunding Mastery Academy which really helped us to prepare. But nothing can prepare you for the madness until you launch! The term ‘building your crowd’ is essential, people have to know what’s coming, and statistically you need to reach 30% of target in the first 48 hours to reach your goal. A following on social media and a newsletter is crucial as well as a detailed marketing plan and advertising budget for the duration. It feels fantastic to have achieved our goal in the end and this seasons outerwear wouldn’t have happened without it!

Have there been any significant challenges along the way?

Kickstarter. There was a point when campaign 1 which never went ahead in the end, and campaign 2 did not reach target, that even the word ‘Kickstarter’ made us shudder. It was hard to come back from especially as so much emotional and mental energy had been invested – it was definitely our toughest time on the SNOOKS journey so far. I’m sure there will be many more obstacles along the way but that it the cycle of business hey – if it was easy, every one would do it. Co-Founder Susie and I are a pretty unstoppable force, not to mention our wonderful team, we really have all the skills and woman power to drive SNOOKS to the next level!

Which is your personal favourite piece of clothing from your collection?

Hands down this season’s Union Jacket. It was featured in Whiteline’s gear review too, you can check out the edit here! The lightness and warmth that it provides makes it perfect for all weather riding, the understated greens are very en trend and the fit has been commented by many as unique and stylish, especially the subtle drop in the back hem keeping it steezy with a feminine twist.

How would you sum up the UK snowboard scene for women at the moment?

There’s no denying that right now the ladies are absolutely killing it when it comes to skiing and snowboarding. Girl Power for sure! Looking at the successes from the top athletes right down to the grassroots new riders who are inspiring more and more girls to give it a go – the advent of more frequent girls only riding sessions in most of the indoor snowdomes in the UK is a bloody amazing sign! SNOOKS sessions are currently in the plan whereby we can reach out to even more new riders. Our ambassador program highlights how special the female snowsports community is; it’s a safe and supporting space where woman can challenge themselves and carve our way in the industry.  Mostly positive, but it is hilarious to think that on a whitelines vid shared on us we had a guy comment: Female owned and operated??? A. Yeah right! B. What a ridiculous USP …Ha. So clearly a long way to go in terms of respect.

What can we expect form SNOOKS for 2018?

2018 is a big year for us, after a successful Kickstarter campaign we are now working hard behind the seasons in preparing our refined Business Plan and hitting the investment market in order to help us effectively grow! We will be at various UK summer events to meet more riders on the slopes and working on some new designs and some marketing twists. Watch this space!

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