Local snowboarders explore business ventures and bold ideas
Mountain town living requires ingenuity and tenacity—especially in a highly sought-after place like Jackson Hole. We’re all in pursuit of finding that perfect balance of work and play, and the formula is different for everyone. For René and Cam FitzPatrick, their ticket to success came unexpectedly in the form of a 1991 Circle J horse trailer. The couple scooped the trailer up in 2018 with aspirations of using it for more than hauling horses. After a complete restoration and a clean coat of cobalt blue paint, they transformed the trailer into a mobile bartending service. Bar SIP Bar has been going strong ever since.
The couple initially dreamt of a sloshy bar on wheels but decided to take their vision a step further with a full-service bar. Bar SIP Bar gives Cam the freedom and flexibility to pursue his other career as a professional snowboarder. Filming and traveling demand a lot of time and energy, which makes it challenging to balance a traditional nine-to-five job. Aside from a few holiday parties and summer season prep, Cam mainly uses the winter months to be on his board as much as possible, filming for projects like Day Job from This Is Us In. “It was cool for René and me to go from the service industry and take this idea into our own hands and create it together,” Cam reflects. “Being able to fully focus on snowboarding in the winter is a treat.”
“Being able to fully focus on snowboarding in the winter is a treat.”
The Fitzpatricks drew from their extensive bartending experience to launch Bar SIP Bar. René worked at Teton Tiger as a bartender and mixologist for many years. “I have always loved to cook; mixology was another creative platform to combine flavors and make something delicious,” she explains. René is the mastermind behind most of their creative cocktail offerings.
Both Cam and René are born-and-raised Jackson natives, and they know that making a living in the valley usually requires wearing many hats. “You can’t put all your eggs in one basket of being a professional snowboarder or skier, and you always have to be creative and create something of your own—I think that’s how you become successful in this town,” Cam explains.
For Alex Yoder, entrepreneurship is a conduit for activism. Yoder is a professional snowboarder and now the CEO and co-founder of Overview Coffee, a sustainable and ethical brand looking to make a difference in the world. Overview has six different blends for sale online and at local retailers, and a coffee truck in Japan. They also have a compact full-service coffee shop tucked into the outside corner of the Mangy Moose.
Yoder didn’t plan to run a coffee business. He only discovered a love for coffee a few years ago. The idea for Overview came about from a culmination of his experiences. He grew up working in restaurants which fostered his curiosity for food quality and sourcing. Then he spent a summer volunteering at Cosmic Apple Gardens, an organic farm on the other side of Teton Pass in Victor, Idaho.
The major turning point in Yoder’s life came when he suffered a severe concussion while filming on an 80-foot gap in Mosquito Creek. After he recovered, he was no longer willing to risk another blow to his head. He shifted his focus from massive airs and cliff drops to a more holistic approach to snowboarding—one driven by the stories and places we find with our boards.
This mentality led him to take his environmental activism to a new level. He drew inspiration from his friend Yvon Chouinard and the model Chouinard created at Patagonia. “Working closely with Patagonia for the last decade, I’ve learned a lot about clothing supply chains and the nuts and bolts of operating a purpose-driven business,” he recounts. “At some point, I felt I could be a more effective environmental advocate by starting a company that works within our global food system than I could with advocacy within the outdoor sports industry.”
Overview Coffee differs from a run-of-the-mill coffee brand because it’s rooted in regenerative agriculture, a farming practice that restores degraded soil and sequesters carbon. Healthy soil means a healthier planet. Coffee is one of the most important agricultural commodities on earth, and Yoder views improving coffee production as a tangible way to make a difference. “Climate change is an overwhelming issue, so it’s hard to know how you can help. My thinking is that we need to collectively change our habits, large and small, to make positive change,” says Yoder. He hopes that by focusing on making a daily ritual more sustainable, we can look at our other day-to-day decisions and shift to more planet-friendly options.
Running Overview Coffee has been as much of an adventure as his snowboarding career. “When you’ve spent two-thirds of your life developing a high level of proficiency in something, it can be tough to be a beginner again,” he reflects. Despite that, Yoder has appreciated the journey and growth along the way. He worried about how he would balance these new responsibilities with his riding, but his two jobs actually coexist symbiotically. Creativity and problem-solving are a big part of snowboarding, and they are crucial to running a business.
“In sports without rules—like snowboarding—you get to do whatever you dream up. And for a lot of snowboarders, there seems to be a fairly short distance between dreaming up a trick and then trying it and learning it. When you pursue all of these capabilities purely to have fun, it becomes a part of your being, and those experiences passionately inform how you move through life.