This week in 'Women in the Mountains' we sat down with Wild Barn Coffee’s Jenny Verrochi who masterminded an underground women’s naked ski event. Sounds cheeky and chilly! Will Beihoffer photo.
On March 20th, you could see a full moon on top of Bluebird Backcountry’s West Bowl. Well, 22 full moons to be exact. It was all part of a women's event focused on one beautiful, singular goal: skiing butt naked in the backcountry. The cheeky idea came from Jenny Verrochi, who’s based in Boulder, Colorado, and owns Wild Barn Coffee. Originally, the whole event was inspired by Judie, the fearless naked skier on their coffee can. Verrochi and her friends thought it would be fun to have a day on the mountain to honor their mascot. Plus, who wouldn’t want to take a naked lap with your closest pals?
Unable to shake the idea, Verrochi got planning, spreading the idea only by word of mouth. One week later she found herself standing at the top of Bluebird Backcountry in nothing but her boots and beacon alongside 22 other naked ladies. The group—ranging from young to old—cheered and howled before dropping onto the slope below them, giggling as they arced turns through the slushy snow. When they reached the bottom there were smiles all around. Participants were already inquiring about how they could make next year’s event even bigger and better.
Considering that naked skiing is a sacred art within this sport, we had to get the inside scoop from Verrochi. Grab your tearaway pants and a cup of cold brew because we’re about to spill the beans on how she pulled off this massive naked ski.
What prompted this naked adventure?
Jenny Verrochi: The excuse I’ve been using is that we wanted to do something that honored the naked skier on our can. Her name is “Nudi Judie”. But naked skiing is such a part of this sport’s culture, heck, some mountains even have naked ski teams! Typically the naked ski involves a lot of men—which is not a problem—but that can be intimidating for some women. Given how objectified women’s bodies have been in the media and society, some women are just uncomfortable with the idea of getting buck naked around a bunch of guys. We at Wild Barn Coffee wanted to create a safe space for women to come out and participate in this age-old skiing tradition.
Meet Judie. She's the naked skier on Wild Barn's can and is their fearless mascot. Wild Barn Coffee photo.
How did it come together?
JV: We hosted the event at Bluebird Backcountry, which was a natural choice because we sell our coffee there. The resort was stoked about the idea. We essentially only had a week to plan and didn’t want to make a big announcement. Word spread through friends and then on the day of the event we wrote “secret girls event at 3 pm ask us for details” on the chalkboard at Bluebird Backcountry. 22 girls showed up. It was incredible! There were all kinds of body types and ages. We waited till the end of the day and skinned up right before the resort closed. We all became friends right away, and the energy was incredibly positive and liberating.
What was your favorite part of the whole experience?
JV: There was this one woman in her 50s and she had an absolute blast. Following the event, she reached out to me and expressed that she wanted to be the spokesperson for older women. It made me think of the older women in my life that would enjoy it, and I told my mom about it. She told me that her friend group would be in for next year, which means we would have women in their 50s, 60s, and 70s out there. It’s great because skiing naked just makes you feel like a kid again, regardless of your age.
At first, it seemed like just another day at Bluebird Backcountry. Will Beihoffer photo.
Why was it held at Bluebird Backcountry?
JV: A big reason was that they’re small enough to host something like this. Bluebird Backcountry is really proactive about supporting local businesses, and all of their food and beverage comes from local companies like ours. It’s a small community there, and I think they're running their business for all the right reasons. Honestly, I don’t even know how I would have approached a conventional resort, and I don’t think a lot of the girls would have done it at a regular resort. I think it felt safer because we were in the backcountry. For safety reasons, it was great too since it’s avalanche mitigated backcountry terrain. That made the event more accessible for skiers who were newer to being in the backcountry.
What do you think is so special about skiing naked, and why recommend it to someone?
JV: For women, it’s so liberating! We’ve always been taught to cover our bodies because it’s so shameful. To just be in nature as you are and have no judgment was an emotional experience. You feel completely free and it helps you shed all the weight of society. In a nutshell, it’s full-frontal freedom.
But once the ladies got to the top, jackets and pants went into their backpacks. Will Beihoffer photo.
Any tips for pulling off a naked ski?
JV: Wear as few layers as you can and have a backpack so you can stash them! There’s honestly no easy way to do it unless you have those button-up pants that you can rip off, so you’ll likely have to take off your boots. Also, I recommend waiting until the spring.
There’s something inexplicable about the energy that comes from a group of women spending time together in the outdoors. What are your thoughts on this?
JV: It’s hard to explain because you simply just feel it when you’re with your girlfriends. I think this happens because there’s a mutual understanding between women. Everyone has different experiences, but it's fair to say we've all experienced the patriarchy in some manner, so I think it's easy to cultivate this kind of sisterhood because of these shared experiences. I've also found that when women are together it’s more about support and less about competition and helping each other.
Were there any moments where you felt this firsthand at the event?
JV: As soon as people heard that it was female-only it got everyone fired up. I loved that we all got to know each other rather quickly. There were 22 participants and we all started as strangers. By the end of the day, we were all friends. I think we formed bonds so rapidly because we shared this incredible feeling of freedom and vulnerability together as we made our way down the mountain.
Verrochi hopes for the event to grow and to add a charity component to it. Will Beihoffer photo.
What’s your goal for next year?
JV: We just want to create a space for women to have fun. Next year we hope to make it bigger and add a charity component to it so we can raise money for avalanche education or breast cancer research. We also hope other gals feel inspired to host their own!
As a brand, how does Wild Barn Coffee hope to foster community in the outdoors and why is this important to your overall mission?
JV: I think coffee creates connections. If you’re going to go meet with a friend it’s typically over a coffee or beer.
The cool thing about this brand is that it’s been completely organic from the start for me and my co-founder Alyssa. The content we post on Wild Barn’s social media is just us doing what we love outside. We’re not professional athletes and we want to make that clear as well. There are a million different energy drinks out there, and we want to hold a space in the outdoors. We hope to grow that community and let our audience know that this is a space for everyone.
We also just want to make coffee fun. Yes, we’re fair trade and organic, but the main priority of our brand is to make good products and have fun while we’re doing it.
Jenny Verrochi and Alyssa Evans are the brains and talent behind Wild Barn Coffee. Brayden Heath photo.
What prompted you to launch your own coffee business?
JV: I’ve been in the coffee industry for a long time. My parents own Red Barn coffee roasters, and they’ve been roasting coffee in the barn in our backyard since I was seven years old. I worked at their cafe and was always surrounded by it. I never imagined myself going to coffee, and pursued work in the outdoor industry instead.
But ultimately launching Wild Barn made sense for me since coffee is what I know best. It’s great too because now I can support my family’s business by sourcing my beans from them, and I get to paint with my own colors by creating my own brand. I’m also a nerd about nutrition, so I wanted to create a better coffee, which is why we don’t use sugar or dairy. I also decided to sell it in a can so I wasn’t tied to a specific location and could still travel. Having that autonomy is important and I wanted to form a business around maintaining that freedom.
Is it just you running the brand?
JV: I’m collaborating with my friend Alyssa Evans who’s a graphic design and packaging genius. She’s always done branding and packaging and has worked for brands like Silk Milks and Verizon. She was crazy enough to listen to me and designed our can and the iconic naked skier. The turning point for her was when she drew Judie. Right after she called me to tell me she was in. We’ve been partners ever since, and the whole business has been her and me for the last four years.
Last burning question—what’s the story behind the logo?
JV: When we were brainstorming the identity for this brand we wanted it to be completely us, so we drew inspiration from our rowdy group of friends. Our friends are always doing river and ski trips naked. It just seems to happen whenever we do fun things. Crazy enough, though, is that the first drawing was a male skier because four years ago we weren't sure how a naked female body would be received on a canned product. If you think about the last four years so much has changed for women, and I’m glad we went with Judie because people love her and she embodies Wild Barn perfectly.
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