The Fund Founder Spotlight Interview: Ariana Ferwerda of Halfdays
The Fund is a founder community and early stage fund, by founders for founders.
Welcome to The Founder Spotlight where we highlight the incredible people behind the companies we’ve backed at The Fund. This week the spotlight is on Ariana Ferwerda, co-founder and CEO of Halfdays, a female-inspired ski wear company that creates design-driven, technical gear.
If you’re a woman and you enjoy skiing or snowboarding, chances are you’ve had to wear men’s clothing at some point. There just aren’t great options for women’s ski wear, especially if you’re looking for something fashionable and affordable. Ariana Ferwerda was a frustrated consumer because of the lack of cool women’s ski wear brands in the outdoor apparel industry so she teamed up with digital marketer Karelle Golda and former Olympic skier Kiley McKinnon to create the brand Halfdays. (An interesting fact is that Kiley actually competed in the Olympics in men’s pants because that’s what the sponsor gave her.) The genesis of Halfdays is the combination of co-founders Ariana, Karelle and Kiley’s experiences as the recreational skiers and the professional skier. They share the same common ground that there needs to be female-founded brands in the ski wear industry.
Halfdays is on a mission to make the outdoors more approachable, inclusive, and fun with their outdoor apparel for the modern woman. Their design-driven, technical gear is available for women of all shapes and sizes. Halfdays is on the rise and headed uphill, so you can downhill in comfort and style!
Why is Halfdays going to win?
Currently there’s no other brand that exists in this category with the exact niche that we have. If you put us on a spectrum of technical to fashion and high price to low price, we really sit in the approachable price point, we’re technical, and also fashion forward. We have three things going for us in that regard. Any other brand that is really playing up the fashion element of it is at a luxury price point. Many people want to look good while they're skiing and they want the products to fit well, but don’t want to pay $3,000 for a ski side, especially if they only see them a couple times a year.
How does Halfdays inspire “customer love”?
The products speak for themselves: they fit well, are technical, and they look really good. I would say that it's the community and the mission of our brand that inspires customer love in addition to the products. We receive messages from women who say, “Oh my gosh, I’m so happy I discovered this,” or “I’ve been waiting for something like this to come out, with a female founder, and gear that fits.” We’re really taking a stand in the outdoor industry that’s been so traditionally male dominated.
Where is Halfdays headed in the next few years?
We started the brand completely direct to consumer, but that quickly shifted. I have a strong belief in the omni-channel approach. I think it’s really important for people to have accessibility to the brand; to be able to touch and feel the product all over the country. Currently we’re in Bloomingdales and Bandier and we’re going to be expanding into more wholesale partners. Beyond that, we’re looking to build the team and set up permanent offices in Denver and New York.
Why the name Halfdays?
We really wanted to name the company after something that was light hearted and fun; a more casual element of skiing. You can get a half day ski pass if you only want to go for a few hours, so we named it after the half day ski pass. We want to get on the mountain and have some fun, but don’t want to take ourselves too seriously.
How can people get Halfdays ski wear?
We actually sold out many of our products this season, which is great because we’ve met all our sales goals for this year earlier than expected, but it’s also frustrating because we want everyone wearing our gear. If people want to order they can get on our waitlist (www.halfdays.com) for next season and they’ll get first access to pre orders this fall.