All those long, lonely nights driving a cargo van full of skis and waxing equipment across Europe have given USST coach Pete Vordenberg plenty of time to think. Anyone who has ever undertaken a late night trip knows the mind comes up with all sorts of ideas, but rarely do such musings come to fruition.
But for Vordenberg, a seemingly outrageous fantasy in the wee hours of a trip across Finland appears to be headed for the big time.
Vordenberg, the creator of the website TeamToday.org, and the associated slogan, “All In!” is about to launch his own line of high-end women’s handbags and purses, branded with the now trademarked All In!®.
“The thing about being All In!®,” Vordenberg told FasterSkier, “is that you take advantage of every opportunity to improve. It is about being fully committed. I would not have been true to the ideal to pass up the opportunity to expand the All In!® brand and I would not have been true to myself to continue to ignore my passion for handcrafted leather purses.”
While it may seem odd that someone so devoted to cross-country skiing, both as an athlete and a coach, would end up creating a line of designer handbags, it was actually the sport that opened Vordenberg’s eyes to the possibility.
Following a training camp in northern Italy while pursuing his Olympic dreams, Vordenberg took a short detour through the famed Italian leather-goods capital – Florence. There, on the narrow winding streets, opening onto sprawling piazzas, Vordenberg had his eyes opened to the leatherworking craft at its finest – and also its shortcomings.
“The products were stunning,” he recounted, “but I knew I could do better. The old way was getting lost in the demands for new style. I believed I had the commitment and understanding to truly mesh old with new, and remake the fashion-accessory industry.”
The dream manifested itself only in the endless sketches of design possibilities that Vordenberg created while on the road. It wasn’t until recently that he found the time and the backers to bring the drawings to life.
“The real kicker was when I realized that All In!® could apply to fashion as well as skiing – and not just as a motivational concept, but as a marketing strategy,” Vordenberg said.
“The great thing about the All In!® is that it exists on several levels – you have the commitment to the process, and the willingness to sacrifice to achieve something great, but you also have an elegant handbag that is surprisingly spacious – the hallmark of an All In!®. It is actually somewhat ironic – to be All In!® you need to make sacrifices, but if you are headed out for an evening at the theater with an All In!® accessory, you don’t have to sacrifice – everything you could want to bring will all fit in – makeup, large sunglasses, iPad, wallet, even a cashmere shawl – and yet the lines are sleek and subtle.”
As part of the launch, three special edition bags will be available – one for each of the “Big Three” of US skiing – Kikkan Randall, Andy Newell and Kris Freeman.
There has already been plenty of hype regarding the impending release, and the June edition Vogue will reportedly feature Freeman on the cover with an All In!® bag.
And as is often the case with an entrepreneur, one good idea will spawn another great one. Vordenberg is currently in negotiation with USSA to allow him to use the US Ski Team slogan of “All Out!” to brand a line of high-end toilets.