Thursday December 13, 2012

STRATTON -- A couple from Stratton has come a long way with their apparel company, Snug Life.

"Keeping people pumped is the main cause of it all," said owner, Scott Horwath. "And getting good quality products out there."

Ashton Robinson decided she wanted to make her own neck warmer. She asked her mother to help her sew the first one. Then she thought it would be a great piece of merchandise for a potential company.

Snug Life started out selling neck warmers shortly after Robinson made her own. The idea of it was to manufacture neck warmers that were warmer than bandanas and something more original than was already commercially available.

"At first, the name came up as a good name for a clothing line," said Robinson, who also owns the company. "Scott pushed the Snug Life name and it stuck. Everyone else liked it. It sounded catchy and good. And it fit the neck warmer vibe."

Robinson and Horwath grew up snowboarding and competing. That is how they met. After a year of dating, the idea for creating an apparel company in the snowboard industry began to blossom.

The first season of its inception in 2010, Snug Life gave products to Mountain Riders. The store put it in consignment to help the company gain exposure. Personal sales also began taking off. Robinson said that giving products out to people as much as possible helped get the name out there, too.

In that first season, Horwath thought they sold about 100 neck warmers, so the decision to continue and grow into an apparel company was natural.

As the brand got more popular, Snug Life began selling hoodies, T-shirts, tank tops and more.

The company has merchandise in eight different locations that include Backside Snowboards at Mount Snow, all three Mountain Riders shops and West Coast Sports Shop.

Snug Life still operates out of Robinson's home in Stratton, where she grew up.

"Our M.O. was that our clothing should be comfortable and cozy," said Horwath, who had been a snowboard coach for several years at Stratton.

He worked with a group of people who'd go out and film snowboarding tricks. In the beginning, Horwath and Robinson gave their products to these riders.

Now, Snug Life sponsors about six to eight snowboarders. Most of the riders are from Stratton or Vermont, but there are some who have gone out to college in Utah and Colorado.

On their website, snuglifeapparel.com, there is a team page with biographies of each rider. The company also has Vimeo and Facebook pages for viewing footage of the sponsored riders.

"We both grew up snowboarding, traveling, competing, skateboarding, surfing and it dictated both our lives," said Horwath. "We want to stay in that industry."

For the future, the couple wants to branch out and grow into a street-wear company that specializes in accessories like the neck warmer. They'd also like to start going to trade shows. They haven't been to any just yet.

"It's nice to be able to run a business and work for ourselves," said Horwath. "It's also nice to do something in the industry we've grown up with. It's a good way to stay connected and keep people pumped."

Robinson believes that starting a company takes a lot of hard work and passion.

"You can make it happen as long as you stand behind your company 100 percent," she said. "As long as you have the drive and passion. If you stick with it and go with it, pushing it but not pushing it down people's throat and getting it out there as much as you can."

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com.