10 Mins With: Toby Phipps

STORY BY Patrick Thorne 27th October 2016

Toby Phipps is the founder and owner of Skismart, the first company in the UK to offer premium branded ski wear for hire. The “smart” part of the name refers to the simple online reservation system followed by courier delivery before your trip and collection at the end, all included. It makes getting the best clothing for the slopes for yourself and your family both effortless and affordable.

At the end of your holiday you can drop it off at one of thousands of pick-up points or have it collected by courier. You don’t even have to wash it, and it’s all for an inclusive, affordable price: skismart.co.uk

When did you have the idea for Skismart?

 Two years ago. I’d bought new ski gear for the family and it cost almost as much as the holiday! Was there a way to make this more affordable? In the US it is possible to hire quality ski clothing, but there was no equivalent service here.

So what do you offer?

We supply jackets and pants from some of the best European and North American brands in a wide range of styles and colours. Our stock is all new for the coming season and spans adults, juniors and kids categories.

We don’t hire out “next to the skin” items, such as gloves and thermals, for hygiene reasons. Plus they’re not as expensive to purchase.

What are typical hire costs?

 From around £80 per week for an adult; and for that you’re wearing a jacket and pant pairing worth up to £1,000. For kids, hire costs start at around £50 per week. Our prices include free courier delivery and collection.

Who are your customers?

Many and varied. We knew the service would appeal to families who may not be committed to skiing or boarding every year. They can avoid investing in kit that their kids rapidly outgrow, plus we find that Mum and Dad like to wear something a bit sporty, chic or retro for a change without breaking the bank.

What has surprised us is the fashion element – our customers love the top-end gear and will often order something they wouldn’t necessarily buy. One lady even ordered four outfits from us for a week to mix things up!

We don’t have exact stats but our feedback suggests many of our customers already own ski clothing – they just like the idea of trying something different for a week or two.

 How do customers ensure they order the right fit?

 We offer a free “try before you fly” service. We’re happy to send items to customers to try out in their own home before their trip. That way they can be sure their clothing is a perfect fit before they reach the slopes.

What happens at the end of the hire period?

 Each order is despatched in a rigid box. That same box is used to return the items to us, again for free. No need to wash anything. We take care of that.

Have you had any strange requests?

 Yes, one or two. We’ve recently been approached to provide ski clothing for a “lad’s mag” photo shoot. We’re still considering that one!

Do you have any general advice on ski wear?

 Whether you hire or buy, go for the best clothing you can afford. Most of us have cut corners and regretted it. If you’re not warm, dry and comfortable all day, you won’t get the most out of your time on the slopes.

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