07/19/2024

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When Kathy Thomas and Sara Zilkha met, they immediately bonded over their shared passion for surfing, skiing, and fashion – and their frustration with spending time and labor hopping from site to site looking for the functional yet stylish clothing they needed. Their active family (they have nine kids between the two of them!) ) do everything from riding the waves to surfing down slopes. Together they began dreaming of a dedicated place to buy functional and fashionable complete sportswear.

That’s the origin story of salt+snow, an e-commerce destination designed to make life easier (and more chic) for like-minded activity enthusiasts. It’s a one-stop store for the entire family, selling all types of sportswear from emerging and established apparel brands. But that’s not all. The site aims to foster a sense of community and exploration. It does this by telling inspiring stories of active individuals, such as blind ice climbers, and offers educational resources such as gear guides and SPF primers. As the weather warms up and we all think about planning our own adventures, we asked these two business-minded moms to share their business talents and tips for getting outdoors with the whole family.

Your business is born out of need and personal passion. What was the spark that sparked it?
Kathy: Two things: First, discovering stylish and practical outdoor lifestyle brands created by people who care about making the world a better place. We wanted to provide a marketplace that focused on these brands and raise awareness of these particular companies. Secondly, it’s about providing a solution to wasting time searching the web with endless labels open on your computer because there is no one trusted resource for all types of sportswear for yourself and your family.

Sarah: We’re tired of buying clothing designed for men and adjusting it to fit women with a “pink and shrink it” mentality. We’re also tired of sportswear that looks great but doesn’t perform well when tested.

How important is the outdoors to families?
Kathy: It’s invaluable, especially after our family was so closed during Covid. My kids’ favorite vacations weren’t the most fabulous ones, but the ones where we had cool adventures together. Keeping the kids happy, active and away from screens on vacation is so much better for everyone’s well-being. People need to reset. There’s something uplifting and healing about getting out of the office, the screens, the gym – it helps you refocus and reorient. Outdoor adventures are also a great way to connect.

Sara: I live in a place with easy access to nature, which my family doesn’t take for granted. While Covid was a difficult and scary time for all of us, the silver lining for many families was discovering outdoor adventures – biking, first-time camping, long-distance running – they are valuable activities that many women want in this post-blockade period to continue spending time with their families. Personally, it’s a lifeline for my family. For us, it rebalances our equilibrium and helps us focus on the beauty of being present in activities that don’t require batteries.

How does being outdoors bring you joy?
Kathy: I need to feel the wind blowing across my face and see the snowflakes glisten. I need to wave my hands in the ocean and feel the sand under my bare feet. I need those rare encounters in nature – meeting an animal that doesn’t run away, noticing the way the light shines on the trees – to feel like a gift that blows my mind.

I also need to challenge myself. Surfer Laird Hamilton talks about pushing himself out of his comfort zone by 4 percent. Sometimes that’s scary. But once you realize you can do it, you gain an unparalleled sense of power and being alive.

Sara: In my heart, I’m a nature lover. When I’m outdoors and raising my heart rate, whether it’s biking, hiking or paddling, I get the biggest adrenaline rush. It feeds me and resets me in a way I never found when I was working out indoors. For me, nature and active healing is the ultimate adventure.

What’s the one adventure everyone should take?
Kathy: Any adventure that doesn’t involve cell phone coverage or the inability to use a cell phone! It could be surfing as a family, or going on a camping trip, or spending a day rafting, hiking, biking or stand up paddle boarding – anything you can’t do with your phone in your hand. If I’m active with my family, I find we get along better, listen to each other and laugh (and complain a little) together. If I’m alone and doing something active outdoors, I get very aware of my surroundings and I end up in a very decompressed state.

Sara: Hike. Setting a goal to climb that mountain, that hill, that local state park trail, and feeling the satisfaction of completing the challenge is a joy that everyone should and can experience. And it doesn’t have to be done in another town or country, nor does it have to be expensive to participate; you can experience it locally with your friends and family, or you can do it completely independently. Don’t forget that you always have the ability to choose your own adventure.

How has your life changed since you started Salt + Snow?
Kathy: I definitely have a lot less free time! But that’s a good thing because it’s good to feel challenged and feel like we’re creating something cool. I’m excited about our great team and what we’ve accomplished. It’s alive, people love the site, it’s surreal. A friend just forwarded us a text from her friend that mentioned salt + snow in her newsfeed. How did that happen? It just made me smile. It makes me want to get out there and have more adventures!

Sara: I found myself in a big moment of gratitude. It’s an idea started by a good friend to help women live their best lives. Yes, I’m busy balancing kids, a husband, and salt + snow, but this is the busiest I’ve ever been. I’ve been a cheerleader for my friends and salt+snow allows me to celebrate and cheer on women who may not be in my circle but who I would definitely consider joining my team.

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