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What I’ve Learned: Darcy Conover, CEO of Corbeaux Clothing

When Darcy Conover and Adam Moszynski were unsatisfied with the base layers they were wearing on their backcountry ski tours, the next step was clear: make their own.

This month, in honor of Women's History Month, the team at Flylow wants to continue to celebrate the women out there being bold and pioneering in their fields.

Interview by guest blogger Zoe Greenhouse

Most people, when unhappy with their clothing, would try a different brand. Instead, professional skiers Darcy Conover and Adam Moszynski took their backcountry confidence to the whiteboard, the factory, and finally the shop. The married couple launched Corbeaux Clothing in their hometown of Aspen, Colorado, nine years ago, with help from a crowdfunding campaign that raised $40,000.

Conover and Moszynski—both sponsored Flylow athletes—continue to dream up and test their base layers in the backcountry, while running their business and raising their daughter. We called up Conover to talk about work-life balance, how she layers, and her favorite thing to eat on the skintrack.

Where did the idea for Corbeaux come from?

Darcy and Adam are partners in business, in marriage, and in raising a daughter

Darcy and Adam are partners in business, in marriage, and in raising a daughter

My husband and I were both sponsored athletes and mountaineers, and we were working with some of the big-name companies that seemed to think of base layers as a side project. To us, it was something that we lived in all day, every day. We’d be out on 10-hour days in the backcountry, and we learned the most important thing was our base layers because that was what was keeping us dry and comfortable—and therefore safe and alive. We geeked out on gear all the time. We thought we could come up with something better fitting and more functional than the irritating base layers we were wearing. It seemed like hard goods and outerwear were really figured out, but base layers were lacking. Living in the mountain environment, we wear them not just in the backcountry, but also skiing at resorts, walking the dog, and playing with our kid outside. We wanted to make good looking stuff that functioned really well. It was also important to us that it be made with environmentally friendly fabric.

Tell us about the experience of starting and running your own company.

It’s very exciting to get to be your own boss, but sometimes it’s hard to turn it off. The harder you work, the more has to happen. It always takes more time and work than I expect, so it’s important to plan ahead. Sometimes it seems really overwhelming and I don’t know where to start, but I’ve found the best thing for me to do is to pick one thing and get started, and the next step will come. You don’t get anywhere if you don’t take the first step.

What does business management look like when it’s a family business?

It definitely presents its challenges. Adam and I spent 10 years as backcountry ski and climbing partners before we started the business together. I think we knew each other more than the average partners do. We knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses, how to push each other, rely on each other, and communicate. In the beginning, when we worked from home, there was no separation between business and home. Now we have a five-year-old daughter who calls us out sometimes. She often catches us and says, “No talking Corbeaux.” So, we’ve developed strategies over the years to leave the business out of our personal lives. We have our best work discussions in the middle of the woods anyway, so we’ve learned how to set boundaries but also have our adventure days together.

How do you layer your clothes for winter outings?

When I’m in the backcountry, especially when I’m doing something like touring, I’m sweating and working hard on the way up, but I want to make sure I’m still dry and warm on the way down. To do that, I start with a tempo-weight bottom, which is what we call our midweight. It’s a super breathable, really soft, fast-drying, non-irritating fabric. I like a three-quarter-length pant that hits above my boot so I don’t have a lot of bunching. On top, I’ll do a tempo layer followed by a waffle fleece, called our contour weight—which is also really fast-drying and breathable. Next, I throw on a Flylow puffy and shell, and head down the mountain.

If you could give your past self three pieces of advice, what would it be?

You only have one life. Take the opportunities that present themselves.

Take on some help from someone with business experience when you start Corbeaux.

Remember that everything is going to be really hard. Keep pushing.

Favorite adventure food?

That’s one of the best parts of doing it all, right? I’m a big fan of salty foods, particularly nuts. I also like to bring a thermos of hot miso broth. I would throw in some chocolate anytime, though.

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