Second Calling: Ashley Battersby
[Editor's note: This is the final story in an interview series called "Second Calling" about pro freeskiers who've started their own businesses in the ski industry. It is written by pro skier Griffin Post. If you missed any of the previous installments, click the buttons below.]
For many athletes, a torn ACL means a long road to recovery and a lot of downtime. For Ashley Battersby, her knee injury at last year's X Games Aspen and the ensuing time off led her to refocus her energy on A-Bomb Apparel, the company she started in 2008. Her suddenly free schedule allowed the 25-year-old Park City, Utah, resident to turn what was historically a pet project into a growing business.
Heading into this winter healthy and motivated, Battersby has turned A-Bomb Apparel from a word-of-mouth-based hobby into a custom apparel company that creates everything from hoodies to bathing suits. While Battersby admits that sewing is still a distant second to skiing, she still makes the time to create every piece herself, by hand. On the cusp of a schedule-packed ski season, I caught up with Battersby to talk hoodies, mass markets and silver linings.
What's the backstory with A-Bomb?
I was riding for Helly Hansen around 2008 and they ended up going a different direction with solely big mountain and let all of their park and competition riders go. I wasn't going to wear anyone else's gear for free, so I taught myself how to sew. I started making all these different hoodies and rocking them on the mountain, in my edits and [while] competing. Kids would come up to me and say, "Where did you get that hoodie? What company is that?" I knew that I had something that all the kids wanted, and since I was given the nickname A-Bomb, I started A-Bomb Apparel. The main reason why A-Bomb Apparel exists is that I wanted to wear something no one else had.
Was focusing on A-Bomb a happy distraction from not being able to ski after X Games?
Even though injuries happen in our sport, you always have to make the best out of every situation and turn it positively. With that, I took A-Bomb Apparel to a whole new level. I went from only hoodies to leggings, workout wear, yoga wear, bathing suits, men's tanks, harem pants, baby pants, sweat suits, hats, gloves, leg warmers and neck gaiters.
You have as busy a schedule as anybody in the ski world. Are you going to have to put the brakes on production come winter?
When winter rolls around I usually slow down my production since I'm not at home. The next month and a half and during the summers, I crank out a ton and then just put them online when I leave for my travels. I'm also busy getting my own new A-Bomb getup ready for the season as well.
Even though your company is still small, to what extent has your own success in the ski world helped get the A-Bomb brand out there?
I would say wearing it in all my edits, videos, competitions and social media has helped my brand heaps. I do not sponsor anyone but myself yet, but I would love to eventually get a team going when revenue picks up. When kids see one of their favorite riders rocking a brand, they have to have the same thing. The only difference with my company is that you can get that same thing, but put your own personal twist on it.
Do you eventually want to take A-Bomb to broader markets, or do you think that would take away some of the uniqueness?
I absolutely love sewing and even though it's a relaxing hobby of mine, it is already a lot of work and takes up a lot of my free time. I would love to eventually get a few of the popular items in factories, even though it would be hard for me because each piece wouldn't be totally unique, but then on the side, if people wanted something custom, then I would personally make it. For now, skiing is my number one, but someday I would love to take A-Bomb Apparel to the next level in the clothing world.