Mon Balon’s mother owned a second-hand ski shop in Melbourne, Australia when Balon was a girl.
It was all about making the sport accessible to everyone, said Balon.
That philosophy continues to drive Balon’s current venture: plus size snow and outdoor wear.
After her mother died, Balon and her husband took over the second-hand shop. However they eventually closed it as big box retailers started selling more affordable gear.
TJ went into the drone photography business and Mon went into online retail.
She said she quickly found a hole in the market, there was very little in the way of plus size ski gear.
And so, five years ago, she created Plus Snow. She worked with manufacturers to create ski gear in a large variety of plus sizes, it was so popular she was selling out of the product before it even arrived at her home office.
It’s not just skiers but people looking to go on holidays in snowy places or play with their kids in the back yard, she said.
Last year she expanded into the outdoor wear realm, Plus Outdoors, sells rain gear and other outdoor wear in plus sizes.
And then in December 2019, after setting up the business to function while she is abroad, the Balons moved to Revelstoke.
Mon said it is a dream to be able to work from home, ski and pick up the kids from school all in the same day.
|Mon Balon and her family moved to Revelstoke in December 2019. At first she was going to treat her time here like a holiday, but when the pandemic hit she decided to grow her business. (Submitted/Mon Balon)|
Though it was in her plans to expand into North America, Balon had intended to put that on hold and enjoy her time in Canada as a holiday, but then the pandemic hit.
Balon said the business was on trajectory for 30 per cent growth in 2020 and instead saw an 85 per cent drop. Though they somehow made it through the winter, despite more than half of the ski resorts in Australia closing due to the pandemic, Balon said she was facing 9-10 months of zero income.
So, three months ago, she decided it was time to fast track the plan and launch her business in North America.
She said it has been difficult to find North American manufacturers willing to expand into plus size production. She went to a tradeshow in Denver, Col. before the lockdown and found that there was no-one making plus size snow gear. She came away with only two connections but even more determination.
Though Balon self-describes as petite, she said she has become an advocate in the plus size industry. She is pushing for companies to expand their sizes because that is the right thing to do.
“It’s not about taking over the world,” she said. “I’m not interested in making lots of money and being exclusive.”
What she wants to see is more of the joy that her customers share when they can finally play in the snow with their kids.
Balon said she is looking for people to model the clothes she sells. She currently uses #curvystoke to raise awareness and celebrate people who wear plus sizes playing in the snow.