How to start your own ski brand in five steps

Ever dreamt of starting your own ski company? Hamish Acland, the man behind Kiwi baselayer brand Mons Royale, shares his merino-knitted pearls of wisdom

1. Find a gap in the market

The world doesn’t need another brand; it needs products that solve problems. If you’re just looking to replace an existing brand you’re going to have trouble, and you’ll need a lot of money to make any traction.
We saw that the current range of baselayers were either functional but lacked style, or had style but failed technically. Our main focus was to provide performance and style; something you could wear on the mountain but also in the pub. There was no-one else offering that before us.

2. Play to your strengths

Before Mons Royale got started I was already well-connected in the industry, both from my career as a freeskier, but also from being based in Wanaka, a small resort town in New Zealand’s Southern Alps. The world of action sports comes down here both in the summer and winter, so we connect with a lot of athletes, which really lets the brand spread.
If we were in any old city we wouldn’t have the same connections. For us that’s key; being globally connected, working to our strengths and not being too worried about the rest of it! ?

3. Stand out from the crowd

Create products that people are going to talk about. There are enough average brands producing average products and you don’t want to waste your time adding to that. Push boundaries and stand out on the rack.
Each season we try to launch new products that will get people people talking. For example, this year we’ve got the Monsie – a full merino one-piece (see page 131), which riders really love. Ultimately, you want to make something that you’re proud of, and that someone wearing it will say “I really love this gear.” If you get that kind of reaction, you’re going to be successful.

4. Love it!

If you’re going to launch a brand, you’re going to have to put a lot of work in and pull a lot of long days, so it helps to do something you’re passionate about. I’m really into skiing and action sports, so working within that community is super-cool. There are always young people coming through who inspire you and stop you from feeling old.
It also means that when I’m travelling the world on business trips I get to see those friends that I made a decade ago and ski with them in their home resorts. So when I’m stressed out or working long hours, I’m still enjoying it.

5. On a powder day, drop everything

So many people in this industry get burnt out, whether it be a pro skier or an industry rep. And a lot of the time it’s because they’re missing out on the fun stuff, or not managing to keep that balance between work and play. So there’s one big mantra in the Mons Royale office: if it’s a powder day, drop everything and go ski!