What it’s Like Starting a Business in the Ski Industry – Year 1

A little while back I spoke to Nick Marvik from NWT3K Outerwear to find out what it takes to create your own outerwear company. It was a pretty interesting interview for people interested in doing it themselves and for people who just wanted to know how much dedication it required! If you missed it then read it here – Start Your Own Outerwear Company. After that interview, I’ve kept in touch with Nick just to see how things progressed with him and the company. After a quick chat, he’s been persuaded to write a ‘Year 1 Review’ so you lot can see what’s happened. Read away…


“As the snow continues to melt and the official snow season here in the Northwest comes to an end, we look back on our first year and what we accomplished along the way. Man, what a year!

Reflecting back on this year, we have already learned and accomplished so much. Although many hurdles were met and conquered throughout our first season, we still hit many of our goals for year one. From customised manufacturing, to late night coding – let’s take a ride.

So, what happened?

From concept, to market

Just a year ago this entire journey was still a ‘concept’. After a few years of college work validation, we conquered our fears and decided to truly get our hands dirty. So we went for it – taking our ideal ski & snowboard jacket design and allowing you to make it your own via a simplistic online jacket customizer.

Customized Manufacturing

There’s no better way to say it than: we got very lucky. We really did. Our working relationship with local Seattle manufacturing facility was a kismet that fell into our laps in a perfect time frame.

Initially, we had to overcome a large language barrier – we got really good at hand signals, too! We had to recognize what worked and what didn’t so that we could make changes to better improve the work-flow and of course, optimise the end product for our customers. Most importantly, we developed and refined a customised system that works for the both of us.

Our Backbone, THE WEBSITE

Online customization was not a novel concept, but simply said, the beautiful and functional platform that we envisioned just wasn’t out there.

Our custom jacket builder focused on two main elements: speed & appearance. We wanted something that was extremely fast because waiting for colors and products to load just plain sucks. Most importantly, our end result needed to generate a realistic, attractive customized product.

We spent months fine-tuning our design, but then it was time to develop some code to bring this long-dreamt vision to life. And not just any code! The only way to meet our standards was to develop our custom builder using the latest web languages: HTML5 & supercool Javascipt. Although we ran into bugs along the way, we stayed determined and conquered them. Late nights, endless coffee pots, and our underlying passion for snow sports got us through the battles.

Customers, from all over the globe!

Our favorite thing about having customers is that we have gotten tons of customer feedback – and we actually enjoy any negative feedback just as much as encouraging feedback. Without well-rounded customer feedback, we wouldn’t have been able to make so many exciting, positive changes for the 2013/2014 Season. We thank you!

Athlete Team

We were lucky to snag two of Washington’s best up-and-coming skiers: Kevin Curran & Clint Christen.

Since signing Kevin & Clint, we have been increasingly impressed by their talent, passion for the emerging brand that is NWT3K, and have had a blast working with them including an epic team trip to Whistler – Check out the video from the trip ->

So, what did we learn?

Time flies

Whoa now, this is an understatement. Hands down one of the most important elements we learned this season was that time flies, more than you could ever imagine. Whether it’s design work, code work, or coordinating different marketing/team activities, you have to be realistic about planning, timing out projects, and setting deadlines. You also can’t accomplish everything at once. On that note…

Our army is only so big

Coming into our industry as a “newbie”, or what you could consider the “underdog”, we couldn’t shake the feeling that we had to do EVERYTHING in the first season. It didn’t take long for our team to take a step back and re-focus: we can only do so much, there’s only so many of us. Thankfully, our passion for NWT3K also pushed us to push ourselves.

Throughout the season we received a large amount of questions and input, such as “why aren’t you doing this?”, “You should think about doing this…” etc. In a nutshell, we had to face reality (and it wasn’t easy) – our army is only so big.

And the next thing you know, the season’s behind us…

More, more, and more

You guys want more. More features, more colors, and more products – we don’t blame you. We decided that we need to add more, we need to offer you more, and we need to allow for more. MORE on this in the near future.

A biggie: Trust

In the customized business, customer trust is huge. Purchasing a product with underlying fears is not an optimal situation. What if my jacket doesn’t fit? What if I simply don’t like it? Can I return it?

We’ll admit, our return policies this season sucked, but we learned from it. With learning comes change, change that will allow you to trust us, change that will allow you to feel more comfortable with your custom purchase. We’re extremely excited to roll out this major change for the 2013/2014 season.

The take home: take risks

If it weren’t for taking risks, we wouldn’t be standing where we are today behind an industry-defying product and platform. We are excited to keep trying new things, hearing what more you want out of us, and consistently innovating away from the traditional.

Here’s to what lies ahead!

– The NWT3K Team”

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