Professional Mountaineer & Big Mountain Skier, Model, Founder of Corbeaux Clothing
On a cold Mid December morning, after settling back in from her morning hike in Aspen, Colorado we had the pleasure to sip on some craft coffee and speak with Darcy Conover of Corbeaux Clothing.
Her wittiness aligned with her professional demeanor carved the way for both a pleasureful and intriguing conversation. In the thirteen years of her residence in Aspen she has successfully launched a solid career and a fulfilling personal life.
Conover, alongside her husband Adam Moszynski, are professional mountaineers and big mountain skiers. Being outdoor enthusiasts, they naturally have always tested the strength and endurance of their outdoor gear and clothing, which led them to creating a sustainable base layer and high performance active wear clothing company, Corbeaux. They noticed a gap in the market and decided to open their own business seven years ago, back in 2013. They were at a point in their lives that they knew they always wanted to spend their careers in the outdoor industry, give back and be a part of its growth. Since then they have grown exponentially and have created a product that is sustainable for extreme athletic conditions and everyday wear.
“No one knows it better than the people living in it all the time.”
Corbeaux makes clothing that is both functional and stylish. Designed and built in the USA, this high quality clothing is sourced from sustainable materials. It’s breathable, designed for mobility and actually makes you feel good and look good.
“Functionality and versatility is our bread and butter.”
Aspen is incredibly appealing with it’s beautiful landscape but is an impractical place to live and have a business considering it’s remote location and high expense of living. Despite all of this, all dreams do come true here in terms of outdoor recreation and Conover is absolutely in love with the town and embraces its quirks. She is dedicated to Aspen, it’s community and feels grounded with it’s small town vibe. Aspen is unique in that it is a small ski town nestled in the mountains but draws people from all over the world, giving it an eclectic persona and a bit of a city feel. Strong and viable connections are affluent.
“You have access to people you never would have access to otherwise. You could be on the Gondola with someone who is CEO of a fortune 500 company or some billionaire.”
The idea for Corbeaux started to flourish as Conover and her husband began to sit down for coffee with their acquaintances and colleagues. “You do that first step, then the next one presents itself and then you just keep going.” All the networking and gathered information led to a Kick Starter campaign where they raised 40,000 dollars. At the time this seemed like a lot of money but didn’t get them terribly far. Without this, along with some investors and shedding some blood sweat and tears they wouldn’t have been able to launch the business.
“We both have this mentality, if we are gonna start something we are gonna do it and we’ll probably make 100 pivots along the way but we're just doing it.”
The bulk of the clothing is manufactured in St. Paul, Minnesota, by an established woman owned (mainly woman run) company that focuses on a cut and sew process of stretchy fabrics. Conover has high standards and a commitment in maintaining a quality product. She feels fortunate for the long time relationship they have developed with their manufacturer. Corbeaux retains quality. As a small, independent company the clothing must be made efficiently and with care. Sacrifices have been made to ensure the clothing has integrity. A great plus of being in Aspen is that they can literally test the product right away! Authenticity is very important and a business model they abide by.
The initial clothing line was based for winter, outdoor and high performance activities. In recent years Corbeaux made a shift, making gear for all seasons. They always wanted to branch out and never wanted to be sorted into only one category; a winter focused athletic apparel clothing company. The pandemic allowed them to focus and market the brand towards indoor use such as home workouts and leisure activities like dog walking.
Now, Corbeaux has base layers for warmer months and activities such as golfing and tennis. Having a background in marketing, Conover knew from past work experiences that she always wanted to have an “achievable based” brand, not just “aspirational.” Clothing that both enables you to perform and inspires you to do the impossible. It’s versatile, a shirt that works for skiing can also be one worn during a yoga class.
Current design work is being made for their Fall 2021 line. This broad collection has something for everyone. There will be a few sub categories; active wear base layer, active, functional life style and a kids collection! They continue to stand by their product and their core mission to continue all sustainable efforts. They will always progress, change and grow with the industry as new fabrics and processes are developed. Attention all coffee lovers...side note, Conover said with excitement that there are materials now being made of coffee grounds!
“When we started no one was talking about sustainability. Now everyone has some sort of recycled fabrics. It's cool to see people are taking a stand and making these changes.”
Working with your spouse can have it’s afflictions but Conover wouldn't trade it for anything. She says her husband is her best friend and they have been working so long together. She really wouldn’t want to do it with anyone else. Luckily, they communicate well, trust and respect each other.
“It's all about balance, especially working with your spouse. He is my adventure partner too. So we REALLY like each other (Haha).”
They set time aside from work and go on what she calls, their “adventure days.” Basically, this entails the two of them setting forth on some sort of outdoors activity. Conover says, “It’s time to be us again and just be out in the woods.” It’s so valuable. Every good, healthy marriage needs this. They know each other's strengths and weaknesses and how to pull the best from each other, how to rely on each other. They have learned how to set boundaries in and defined their roles within the company.
With her being a mother and a business woman, it’s important that they set parameters at home too. They launched their business about the same time that Conover became pregnant.
“When we signed our first investors I was in the hospital, it was the day after our daughter was born.”
To say the least, there is so much energy and dedication that go into both roles! Creating a harmony between business and family has been difficult at times but they have found themselves in a conducive work/home environment. They are very careful as to how much they talk about work at home and in front of their daughter. Conover is very focused and goal driven so she maintains an organized and cohesive space that promotes synergy.
Conover stressed the importance of optimizing time with her daughter. They spend a majority of the time together outdoors; building snowmen, going to the playground and skiing. She says kids need to be outside and that’s when she feels the closest bond with her. She is constantly instilling morals and a sense of awareness and encourages her to be herself. She teaches her about values and culture. A big saying that they have in their house is, “Girls can do anything.” It has become her daughters ‘little motto’ as well. Conover wants her daughter to know that she can do anything that a man can do and that all women and girls can accomplish anything and be everything they want to be.
Along with Corbeaux, Conover is still an active and sponsored mountaineer and big mountain skier. Since becoming a mother and a business owner, skiing is no longer her only primary focus but is still a large portion of her professional life. With a Masters Degree in food service management from Cornell University she didn’t originally set out to be a professional skier. Post college she moved to Boulder, CO where she held a job running a marketing department at Warren Miller Entertainment only to find herself wanting to be the one on the slopes and not behind the scenes. Conover said, “I wanted to give it a whirl.” She then moved to Aspen and quickly gained recognition in the skiing community, started to ski professionally and never looked back.
“I like the feeling of being in the woods all day long, out in the mountains with no cell phone. It quiets my mind a bit to be in risky situations where you just have to focus. It's kind of like a meditation.”
After speaking with Conover we realized that she sets forth to do only things that she is truly passionate about. Like, literally...every single thing she has accomplished is because she pushed through what most people would consider roadblocks and stop signs. When she wants something, she goes for it and achieves it. By setting goals and understanding her worth she has prospered and become successful.
“If you want to do it, do it. If you have a vision for your life, you're the one that can make it happen.”
Conover says it’s important to not let things intimidate you. She loves what she is doing and is also making an impact on the world while doing it. What could be a better career than that?
“You have an end goal, how are you going to get there? There's a million different ways to get there.”
She says you need to have confidence and flexibility. It has taken her years of pushing her limits and persevering to have this.The more you put yourself out there, the better you will be at it. It’s not always easy to be on top of your game. Conover says finding humor in life and in business helps. One thing that Moxxi takes away from Conover is to not sweat the small stuff. Enjoy what you are doing, allow room for error and don’t give up. As much hard work, failure, nurture and commitment that has gone into developing Corbeaux, Conover has such a light hearted and humorous attitude. She puts so much energy in it and has a whole lot more to give. She is one strong woman, and it shows in her personality and in their business, Corbeaux.
Before we knew it our cups were dry and all our coffee had been sipped. Now, with a decent coffee buzz on, it was time for Conover to go to the office and set up shop. Having already hiked a mountain, as well as, I’m sure other morning activities, her work day was only just then getting started. She was ready to bring some Moxxi attitude.
Darcy has done multiple campaigns and is an athlete/model for companies including Aspen Snowmass, Aspen Peak, Marmot, Smartwool, Athleta Inc, Spyder, Free country, CO Tourism.