Woven into the very fabric of our softest sweaters and sleekest strides, there’s more to the magic than meets the eye.

That familiar adage – “never do business with family” – may ring true for the House of Gucci but, for a host of fashion houses who specialize in skiwear, it couldn’t be further from the truth. For a select group of these family-run labels, the passion for snow and playing in it quite naturally provides the fuel that keeps them moving forward, creating the masterworks of form and function we love to wear in the mountains. So what’s the secret to running a family fashion house that doesn’t result in litigation, bankruptcy, heartbreak, and – dare we say it – homicide? Here are the insider tips from the good folks behind the snowsport’s most chic and iconic family-run brands.


The “Norwegian Look” has been one of the ski world’s most sought-after and influential fashion trends for more than a century. For We Norwegians – the chic, sleek, alpine knitwear label headquartered in Voss, Norway – it’s also real life. Theirs is a sustainable eco-friendly style, lived in real time.

“From the very beginning we wanted to have a strong Norwegian identity in the brand, hence the name,” explains Tove Grane, who launched We Norwegians in 2014 with husband Oyvind Lauritzen. “We wanted to show Norwegian lifestyle and culture how it is today – not a stereotypical, old version of Norway.”

Grane is responsible for the company’s uber-hip, form-fitting designs. She is quick to describe We Norwegians as the “antithesis of disposable fashion”, but rather a 21st-century company with “a cottage industry” mentality, where major decisions are made at home instead of in a corporate boardroom.

“We are always talking shop over the dinner table, and that’s where we exchange ideas and solve problems. When we, as a family, are all involved somehow, I guess you have a different perspective on all the tasks that need to be solved. It’s more personal, and all details are important. We are very passionate about the brand and extremely grateful and humble to all customers that choose to buy our products,” she adds.

we norwegians owners


A family business in the truest sense, Austria’s Frauenschuh is a textbook case on how to turn a small traditional leather clothing shop into an iconic and exclusive mountain lifestyle brand.

Founded in Kitzbühel by Kasper Frauenschuh in 1950, the luxury label we know and love today was revamped in 1974 by his son Kaspar Jr. Nowadays, Frauenschuh’s talented roster of family members is spread across the fashion capitals of Europe and North America. All in, seven members of the clan are on the company payroll, overseeing everything from management, production and design, to distribution, social policy, creative, and sales.

A company veteran “since he was a little kid”, Simon Frauenschuh oversees the label’s worldwide wholesale distribution department. A globetrotter who lives and breathes the Frauenschuh ethos, representing the company from the slopes of Aspen to the fashion catwalks of Munich, his insights into the components of a successful family-run fashion business are invaluable.

“The key to success in a family business is to acknowledge and appreciate all the different viewpoints that exist within a family,” says Frauenschuh. “This unique combination of perspectives allows us to benefit from the experience of the older generation as well as the innovation of the younger generation. Through respectfully communicating with each other, we create the perfect marriage between tradition and novelty.”


On paper, Sara Rönngren and Jimmy Odén are a super-hip, married couple living and working in Åre, the geographical beating heart of alpine skiing in Sweden. In reality, they are practitioners of a plural marriage: both openly admit they were married to the mountains long before they said “I do” to each other. The pair estimate they’d clocked a combined 6,000 days on snow before they founded one of the ski world’s most sustainable and fashion-forward labels, Elevenate, in 2010.

“We founded the company out of our love for skiing and the possibility to make the clothes we want to wear in the mountains. It is easier to make the products exactly the way we want them in a small family-operated business. We can allow true quality to exist since our focus is to make the best possible clothes – not making all the decisions with margins and price points in mind,” says Odén, an UIAGM mountain guide before he immersed himself in the world of ski fashion.

The key to a successful family business, according to Rönngren, a former elite-level competitive freeskier who is now Elevenate’s chief designer, is understanding boundaries, and knowing how to switch off and be present in the moment.

elevenate owners

“We can discuss product improvements at any given time, but we will very rarely discuss any other business-related topics outside office hours. If you don’t have guidelines for on and off, it is easy to burn out when there is no clear distinction between work and free time,” says Rönngren.

NewLand from Italy Family


Launched in 2007 by Bruno Dareggi and Marzia Vincenzi, Newland From Italy’s magnificent knitwear designs have reinvigorated the drab, dreary world of ski layering by delivering the high gloss and glamor that only a “Made in Italy” design house can.

Newland, like many of its contemporaries, is hyper-focused on technical innovation and ethical sustainability, but its guiding philosophy is best exemplified by a quote from a Parisienne pioneer of modern fashion, Madeleine Vionnet. “The dress should not hang on the body but follow its lines. It must accompany the wearer and, when a woman smiles, it must smile with her.”

This concept of clothing – a living, breathing entity in harmony with its wearer – mirrors the symbiotic relationship the five-member Dareggi clan have with their own organic “Newland Family”.

“We see our Newland Family as more than just our biological family, but as a team grown together, made up of people who at all levels continue to give, step by step, success after success, an exceptional and fundamental contribution to the realization of a shared project,” explains sales manager Anna Dareggi, raised in the textile wonderland created by her parents along with her sibling-business partners Claudia and Gian Marco. “The fruits of this collective family endeavor are technicality and innovation, quality and craftsmanship, style, and the respect and timeless value of producing a truly ‘Made in Italy’ garment.”

“I think that the greatest value of being a family business is the sharing of a great passion, which not only unites us in business but also in our everyday lives,” Dareggi adds.


Success in both business and in life is, for Ulli Ehrlich, the guiding spirit behind one of the alpine world’s most elegant houses of style. For her, success is connected to one thing and one thing alone. Heart.

“I think the most important thing in running a company like ours is that it’s a matter of the heart, and not just a job,” says Ehrlich. As CEO, owner, and creative force, she has transformed Sportalm Kitzbühel from a small Austrian family business into a global fashion juggernaut.

Turning a family business into a successful, inspirational, innovative luxury ski and mountain lifestyle label is, according to Ehrlich, a true family affair. She credits the Herculean efforts of her parents, husband, children, and even her future daughter-in-law as the generational glue and gas that keeps the Sportalm ship speeding ahead.

sportalm kb family

“Within a family you can trust each other, and everybody wants the same and the best for the company. We do not always agree on how to achieve a goal, but we always agree on what is best for the brand. Ultimately, we love what we do and we do what we love, and we do it with all our passion. In many ways, our family business has been ‘sustainable’ even before the word was created, because we always have been thinking in generations, not in quarterly reports,” adds Ehrlich.

M.MILLER fur owners

M Miller

When your closest business partner is also your spouse, sometimes a clear delineation between home and work is a must. For Mark Miller and Miyuki Tachibana, the dynamic duo behind one of America’s most luxurious alpine lifestyle and outerwear brands, that line is blurred – and it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

“I will say that when spouses work doing the same thing six and seven days a week, you spend a lot of time thinking and talking about what you are doing, what you want to do, and ideas that may randomly come up. On one side it makes for a nonstop work climate, but it also allows for a lot of creative sharing,” says Mark Miller. Miller whimsically describes himself as M Miller’s director of sales, marketing, and chief cook and bottle washer when he’s not helping designer wife Miyuki create mountain wear masterpieces in cashmere, shearling, and fur.

Almost entirely a “Made in the USA” domestically produced brand, Miller believes tight-knit family connections and shared values are woven deep into the fabric of his business and are what binds this incredibly successful homegrown fashion label together.

“Family brands can be quirky and the interpersonal relationships that bond the people and the business

make for a variety of pros and cons. While it is of course a job, a brand that is a family brand has a different feeling of heritage, personal pride of ownership, struggle, success, familiarity, and achievement.” And that, according to Miller – and many of his loyal clients – is something to be proud of.