Transitioning into the role of CEO of Icelantic Skis was not easy for Annelise Loevlie. She had been with the company since its inception in the garage of her longtime friend, Ben Anderson and had watched it grow from a small shop to an award-winning, internationally recognized brand. But when she moved into the chief executive role in the fall of 2013, she was faced with the challenge of helping this brand she had help to build evolve into a truly profitable and sustainable business.
“When I took over as CEO, I had to do some really hard, heavy reorganizing. We were losing money and the company wasn’t healthy, so I had to restructure, which meant firing friends and totally altering the course of people’s lives. I got really sick, and my body started collapsing.” Annelise had found herself leading a “double life”—tough executive by day, and the spiritual, gentle soul she naturally embodied outside of work. “I was like this weird, mean CEO person, this idea of what I thought a CEO looked like, and then at home, I was just me. There was so much tension, I realized I had to make a change.”
That change came to be really more of a return, a return to self and to better nature. Annelise first fell in love with skiing growing up in Idaho Springs, Colorado. “Man, I started skiing before I could walk,” Annelise remembers. As a Colorado mountain kid with a Norwegian dad, Annelise started Nordic skiing at age three or four and has since moved through every type of sliding snow sport—alpine skiing, telemark skiing, snowboarding—until landing back on alpine skis. What she originally found on skis and in the mountain landscape—stillness, a sense of the wild, freedom, connectedness—Annelise also strives to bring into her business role as well. Annelise has emerged as a powerhouse leader of the ski industry and has done so by being unapologetically herself and letting her true self fuel and inspire the business side of her life. She describes this space she has established as a yogic space between strength and flexibility. “It’s been interesting these past couple of years,” Annelise explains, “because the challenge was never the brand. We never had to intentionally create a brand, we’ve just been ourselves, stuck to our values, and it turns out that people respond to us and our aesthetic. We’re now working on the bones of the business, like sales and numbers and how we achieve those goals.”
Turns out that #returntonature has also meant good business for Icelantic. From company culture to marketing, ski design to sustainability in production and manufacturing, Icelantic has embraced this authentic, nature-driven mentality and aesthetic that Annelise embodies in her own leadership.
So what’s Annelise’s next big challenge and focus? Women in the ski industry. Last year, the 17 women in positions of leadership within the ski industry (literally, Annelise says, there are only about 17 total), got together to share ideas, collaborate, and get to know each other. “We all work for different companies, but we all have parallel experience and perspective,” Annelise explains. “It’s been the coolest collaborative group that I’ve worked with. It totally fueled my fire, especially when it came to recognizing the power of women working together.”
If nothing else, the modern ski industry was born out of a search for fun, adventure, and a true commitment to creative self-expression. Annelise Loevlie and Icelantic embody that ethos and have helped to reinforce the worthiness of the creative endeavor that is skiing in the current industry climate. “I want my own commitment to my authentic self and our return to nature mentality in our business to subtly encourage everybody to be true to their nature because I think that’s a foundational element in sustaining mental health and like, world peace,” Annelise explains with a smile and characteristic laugh.
Sponsored by Icelantic Skis