Why Whistler? A question that Whistler locals get asked all the time. And, although there are a variety of responses to this question, you can be sure they’ll answer with passion, pride and a fun story.
What is it about these mountains that draw people to them and then won’t let them go? How does the balance of work and lifestyle work here? What gets under people’s skin and embeds itself so deep that Whistler becomes part of their soul?
We ask a variety of Whistler locals Why Whistler? In Video 9, we chat with Miranda Foord and Elise Savard, co-owners of Peak Performance clothing store in Whistler. We talk about meetings on chairlifts, taking risks and working with your bestie.
The golf course in the video is Whistler Golf Club.
What Drew You to Whistler?
Elise (E): I’m originally from the little town of Baie-Comeau, Quebec, and like many people, I came here for skiing, and for two seasons I was a ski instructor; back in 2000 and 2001. Miranda was actually my supervisor at ski school; she got to boss me around back then, not anymore, ha ha! We connected right away and became good friends. After the ski season, I went to Australia and we connected over there, and then travelled together.
Miranda (M): I’m originally from the Melbourne area in Australia, and my dream was to be a ski instructor even though I didn’t know how to ski! However, in my first season, I failed my Level 1 instructor course and ended up working in a retail store for Whistler Blackcomb. I wanted to stay, so I learned to ski, passed my CSIA Level 2 exam and then worked ski school for three winter seasons. I’ve lived here year-round since 2011 and I am very lucky.
M: The lifestyle, the people; they’re active, outdoorsy, love life. It’s an amazing spot. I actually moved back to Australia for a couple of years and tried to settle down, but I missed the lifestyle over here.
How Did You End up Owning a Clothing Store Together?
E: It was something we talked about when we were instructors – how cool it would be to have our own store in the Village. It was almost like a joke, I never thought we’d have the guts to do it.
Then one day we said, we’re thirty, what have we got to lose? Let’s do it. Let’s make it happen! It was our dream to do something here and make a living in the best place in the world.
M: We opened the store in December 2011, so coming up on 10 years this year! Back when we were in ski school we’d joke on these minus 25 days about how it would be nice to work inside, and here we are! We didn’t have much experience; Elise and I jumped into this headfirst, we took the risk and it paid off.
What Is It About the Retail Industry That You Love?
E: Actually, when we first opened the store, we had no experience in retail; we had to build everything from scratch. But having a retail store in Whistler is different from the city, everyone’s on holiday here, the customers are happy, they want to chat and that makes it a fun interaction. It’s just a different experience to having a store in the city where people are in a rush.
M: Going to work every day is not really a job, it’s so enjoyable. Being able to talk about what run you did on the mountain that morning or how deep the powder was; it’s a special environment to own and run a business.
Why Did You Choose Peak Performance?
E: We fell in love with the product when we travelled around Europe. It’s a great brand for a four-season resort like Whistler. Here you have golfing, hiking, running, skiing; everything you can do here in Whistler, we have the clothing for it. It’s a perfect brand for this place.
M: I know that our customers are going to be happy with what they’re wearing in whatever weather Whistler dishes up. I love the quality and style. We live in Whistler, so we can use the product. For example, in the winter testing out the ski gear, in the summer the golf apparel. I have a business I can get out and play in.
What’s it Like Working With a Good Friend?
E: We definitely complement each other. She’s a good manager, she’s great with the staff and I’m more the numbers and accounting part. She has different qualities than me and we work really well together.
M: It’s amazing. We’re opposite, Elise does a lot of the backend stuff, the accounting, the numbers. I oversee the front end, managing staff. We treat our staff like our family, so it makes coming to work every day super fun. Our staff are amazing; they’re the backbone of our business.
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We have meetings on the chairlifts, discussions about the store, work and play mix. But that’s part of it. I think it’s what makes us successful, that we live the business. We live the brand. We’re in the store dealing with the product, but then we’re out skiing in it, talking about the product, about work, doing up the mountain with our staff.
I have no problem getting up in the morning and answering emails straight away, I just love what I do. Some people like to keep work and life separate, but for me, I love picking up the phone at any time of the day. We both have a passion for our store and I think that’s what makes it a success. I love coming into the store every day, I love talking to people; it never gets old.
How Does it Feel to Be Entrepreneurs in Whistler?
E: During COVID, our VIPS and community definitely came out to support us. There’s a great, supportive feeling here in Whistler from the community.
M: The community has been so supportive over the past ten years, especially over the last year and a half during the pandemic. We have a really strong connection with our local and VIP customers, and they’ve just been amazing. Our customers end up becoming friends, it’s something special, the relationships that are built through the store. We’ll go out golfing or take a few runs on the hill with some of our customers, we’re really lucky.
What Does the Future Hold for Peak Performance?
E: I think the brand has a lot of potential to grow here in Canada. It’s only at the beginning. This year it’s our 10th anniversary, we can’t believe it’s been ten years, time flies when you’re having fun! We’re going to have a party in the store, a thank you to our locals and VIPs.
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M: It’s a young, fresh brand to Canada; there are only three stores here right now and they’re looking to expand. Not a lot of people know us yet; it’s a Swedish brand that’s big in Europe but new to Canada. It’s a good technical product perfect for the West Coast. Elise and I want to grow the brand, and keep customers dry and happy!
What Does a Normal Summer Day Look Like for You in Whistler?
E: I like to go for a run, then head to work. If I have time, I might do nine holes after work or go for a paddleboard. The summer evenings are so beautiful here, I just try to make the most of it.
M: We’re on Whistler hours, so we open at 10 AM. It allows us to play – go for a run, or mountain bike before work or in the winter, go ski some powder. It’s a flexible lifestyle and we work with our staff to make sure we all get outside.
What Are Your Favourite Activities in Whistler?
E: Skiing, obviously, but in the summer I like to golf. There are so many amazing courses in Whistler. Golf is a great way to socialize, but be active at the same time.
M: My golf game is improving, I’ve got a lot of work to do, it’s a sport I just picked up a few summers ago. I’ve got a good coach in Elise, she gets me through. I love it. The courses here are spectacular. It’s got me off my mountain bike a bit this summer.
We also like to wine and dine, Bar Oso is one of my favourites. We get out on the lake paddle boarding too.
What Makes Whistler Unique?
E: The great outdoors and all the activities you can do. For me to call it home is amazing. People dream of coming on holiday here and we get to live here. I try to remind myself how lucky I am to be here.
M: We’re so lucky to be living in a place like Whistler. The like-minded people, the activities; it’s a dream come true to live in a place like this.
What Makes You Proud to Call Whistler Home?
E: Whistler is a big icon and we came here, starting from scratch. Now to have a store, to make a good living, it’s a dream come true.
M: I’ve created a lifestyle I love here.
Has Living in Whistler Changed You?
E: I’ve always been active, but living in Whistler I don’t want to miss anything, I want to try everything, all the time. It’s just made me more active!
M: I’ve always been a happy person, but to do all the things I love in one place and not have to travel as much makes me a super lucky person. I feel very privileged.
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What Gives Whistler Its Heart and Soul?
E: The people that live here. It’s a different pace, a different world.
M: The people. The people here are happy. I mean look at where we live! It’s high energy.
Ross Reid is our talented videographer on this project. To see more of his work visit his website.