Original Ski Balm: How Faking a Sick Day Led to a Skin Care Brand

Startup StoriesAmy Hatch

Original Ski Balm Adventure Balm Protect from Wind Burn and Sunburn

Bill D’Allessandro wasn’t the first person to call in sick to work to instead ski an epic powder day. Nor was he the first to end up with an obvious, wind-burned goggle tan impossible to hide from others including his boss. He was, however, possibly the first to turn that incident into a business.

Bill created Original Ski Balm after countless skin protectants failed to save and soothe his skin from the Colorado cold, wind, sun and snow.

In all started back in 2012, when Bill bought a bunch of sunscreens and skin care ingredients, and set to work in his kitchen to mix something up. He quickly realized, however, he was no chemist, and couldn’t do it on his own. That’s when he reached out to a manufacturing company to help him create the ultimate formula.  

It took two years to perfect Original Ski Balm, but eventually it was ready to debut to the world. In the winter of 2014, Bill quit his day job to instead focus his energy on ridding the world of raccoon eyes.

Original Ski Balm Adventure Balm Protect from Wind Burn and Sunburn

Danielle Mann, Director of Sales, has been with the company since its inception. It’s her “baby” she says and she’s super passionate about it.

Also a fellow Colorado skier, Danielle loves how Original Ski Balm goes on smooth and isn’t greasy.  Unlike many petroleum based protectants on the market, Original Ski Balm is made from a proprietary wax-gel base that actually moisturizes, and won’t clog your pores or cause breakouts. In addition to protecting from windburn, there’s a dose of SPF 40 to defend against sunburn too.  

Soon after the release of Original Ski Balm, retailers and customers began to ask for a year-round product. Having such a seasonal product created issues for the company as well, because it had a short window to entice retailers to sell Original Ski Balm.  

“If we missed that window, or got a hard ‘no’, we had to wait a whole year until we won them over the next time around,” Danielle said.  

In response, Adventure Balm was introduced in the spring of 2017. For the all-around outdoor enthusiast — any season, any adventure — they’ve literally got you covered.

Original Ski Balm Adventure Balm Protect from Wind Burn and Sunburn

When asked what’s been most fun about launching Original Ski Balm and Adventure Balm, Danielle points to the outdoor industry.  “These people are FUN and have a zest for life and a love for the outdoors!” she said, comically adding, “not a lot of suits!”

Currently, the brand is proud to be sold in over 350 retailers and ski resorts coast to coast, with additional accounts in Canada and Australia. The entire line of products, which are all manufactured in the USA, can also be purchased at Garage Grown Gear.

“The brand is just taking off,” Danielle said, happily reporting that 2018 was their biggest year yet, almost doubling sales from the previous year.

In addition to the technical functionality of the products themselves, this growth has been driven in large part by bold, comical, and eye-catching marketing slogans. In the brand’s infancy, founder Bill casually designed a sticker of a Colorado license plate with the catchphrase ‘Ski Naked.’  

Original Ski Balm Adventure Balm Protect from Wind Burn and Sunburn

“People went absolutely bonkers over that sticker,” Danielle laughed.

Even though little thought went into the design, it just caught on, and they now give away thousands of those stickers each year. The ‘Ski Naked’ campaign even has its own hashtag following on social media, and naturally led to the brand’s other slogan ‘Let Your Cheeks Go Commando.’  

“People appreciate Ski Balm’s fun and refreshing approach,” Danielle said.

Behind all the wittiness, however, is a tireless team including Bill, Danielle and seven sales reps (and counting) stationed across the country, who sometimes call in sick to work, coincidentally enough right around the same time mountains get blanketed in snow.

 

Original Ski Balm Adventure Balm Protect from Wind Burn and Sunburn
Original Ski Balm by Ski Balm

 

Original Ski Balm Adventure Balm Protect from Wind Burn and Sunburn
Adventure Balm by Ski Balm

 

Original Ski Balm Adventure Balm Protect from Wind Burn and Sunburn
'Mountain Mint' SPF 30 Lip Balm by Ski Balm

 

 

Startup stories

Leave a comment

Most Read Articles

  1. 11 Pieces of Ultralight Gear Under $5 (Updated)
  2. The Controversy of Cairns
  3. Joe Chocolate Co Coffee Caffeine Thru-Hiking Backpacking Snacks Food