Sometimes, a business idea can come from a problem. And for England-native Caroline Graham, there was a problem with her Park City ski vacation. Her favorite boot bag, a simple nylon piece of luggage, was too heavy to lug around the airport. So she decided to find a boot bag on wheels.
"I had this bag I loved because it fit a lot of stuff," Graham said, "but I couldn't carry it I thought I'd go find a boot bag on wheels, something that was easy to get around with, and I couldn't find one anywhere. I remember thinking, 'This is absolutely ridiculous.'"
The Park City powder may have left her without complaint, but she was not about to forget her frustration in not being able to find a boot bag that she could get around with in an airport. When the vacation was over, a few sore shoulders and tired arms later, Graham was back in Australia, where she had been living at the time.
Though she never started a company from scratch before, she started creating her own prototype and online business, SKBoot, with the help of her husband and collaborator.
"My husband, who I wasn't married to at the time, convinced me to do it," she said. "He gave me the courage to really go for it. I think anyone who does something like this, they need somebody who believes in them."
The two met in Park City and became fast friends, but before long the two were engaged and she was preparing to leave Australia. The company was formed in Australia in 2009 and by 2010 she -- and the company had moved to Utah.
"One thing led to another, and I ended up designing this bag I use all the time," Graham said. "I love this product, and that's why I have so much faith in this business."
"It worked out so well," she added, "and who would have thought."
Now Graham lives, works and plays in Park City, even working as a ticket checker at Park City Mountain Resort part-time, which led to the latest product she developed: neoprene helmet gloves for adults and children. The helmet covers are sold in a variety of patterns and colors, not only meant to add a bit of flair to a plain helmet but also to retain heat. The children's style neoprene helmet gloves even come with a built in pocket for lift tickets, something Graham created after she realized she was constantly picking up children to scan the lift tickets that were attached at the bottom of their coats.
"Anyone who travels to ski would want this bag," she said. " we only had one return last year, so that's a really good sign."
Since she got her start, the company has continued to grow as word of mouth spreads, she added, and people are happy with the product. One customer bought four bags back-to-back last year, prompting Graham to personally call and thank her for the business.
The SKBoot bag, which is available online and in a handful of Park City stores, fits a pair of ski or snowboard boots, a helmet, goggles and gloves and comes with a laptop pouch and a waterproof bag to put boots in once people are done skiing or snowboarding. The bag retails at $129 to $139 depending on the size.
The neoprene helmet gloves, which are sold as a one size fits all in adult and children sizes, are also available online and retail at $34.95 plus shipping.
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