Austin gavinski brings style to snowmobiling madison wisconsin business news host.madison.com electricity bill bihar electricity board

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Today, Austin Gavinski, her husband, Travis Gavinski, and their two children ride their snowmobiles most winter weekends, whether it’s on land near their Oregon home; at their cabin in St. Germain, in northern Wisconsin; or in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, “where the snow is super deep.”

An experienced salesperson — at U.S. Cellular and at Shred-it — with a degree in communications from UW-Whitewater, Austin Gavinski started Divas SnowGear in 2010 to sell outerwear and accessories to women who ride snowmobiles. According to the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association, there are nearly 1.4 million registered snowmobiles in the U.S., and about 35 percent of the riders are women, Austin Gavinski said.

Divas’ business has snowballed quickly, and now includes an office and warehouse at 327 Market St., Oregon, three employees in addition to Austin Gavinski, and, with this snowy winter, is expected to draw sales of “well over seven figures” this season.

Her quick success attracted Facebook’s attention, and Austin Gavinski and her husband were invited in February to become part of Facebook’s first 12-member SMB (small to medium businesses) Council, the only Wisconsin participant. Earlier this month, the couple flew to California where Facebook housed them at a San Francisco hotel for two nights and hosted meetings of the new council.

Divas was chosen when Facebook officials looked at “active advertisers from our dashboard and saw that they were a really unique business,” said Elisabeth Diana of Facebook corporate communications. “They have such a specific audience that they’re catering to, an underserved community of women who like fashion and snowmobiling.”

A: We were frustrated with the lack of attractive snowmobile apparel available, for women specifically. Most of it was men’s — like the shape of a men’s jacket, but just scaled down, sizewise. Very bulky, very unattractive, a lot of checkered flags, racing stripes, flames. Nothing really fulfilled my aesthetic needs. So my girlfriends and I ended up wearing ski wear, which really doesn’t have all the functionality that snowmobilers need.

A: It has to be durable so it won’t easily rip. Certain areas need to be reinforced, such as knees and elbows. Also, they need insulation. People are very active when they are skiing so they stay warm where with snowmobilers, most people do trail riding and you’re not expending a lot of energy so you do need to be quite warm.

A: Mainly through distributors: Yamaha U.S.; Yamaha Canada: Western Power Sports; and Parts Canada. Through them, our apparel is sold in about 350 to 400 power sports stores in the U.S. and Canada. We also have three online retailers, including Amazon.

A: I figured it all out the hard way. I started with one drawing for one set of jacket, bib and gloves. I searched online for overseas factories that would build samples. Somehow I got hooked up with one initial sample factory. They just did a really good job. When it came back, it didn’t look perfect but the fit I was trying to convey was there. Our factories are mainly overseas, primarily in Vietnam and China, and there’s some manufacturing done in the U.S.

A: Yes. We’re trying to create attractive, functional, comfortable, warm clothing, snowmobile apparel that actually looks nice and is feminine fitting. One of the things we try to do, too, is keep the design neutral and simple. Most of our competitors just love to plaster their logo all over. There’s no way you can blend in with that. We like to make more practical garments. I wear mine as a winter jacket. It doesn’t necessarily look like a snowmobiler but has all the functionality of a snowmobile jacket.