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Diversifying Ski Culture

An interview with a local back-country ski enthusiast

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Back-country skiing has molded into a lifestyle for 29-year-old Mallory Duncan. Since the early age of two, Duncan has been hitting the slopes and exploring the back country of mountain ranges across California and the Pacific Northwest in a never-ending search for amazing lines.

Now an adult, and officially a "Bend local" Duncan has big plans when it comes to hyping up ski culture, equipment and business.

While on a Northwest snowy sojourn, Mallory Duncan takes a pause that refreshes. - MALLORY DUNCAN
  • Mallory Duncan
  • While on a Northwest snowy sojourn, Mallory Duncan takes a pause that refreshes.

Source Weekly: So how did you get into skiing?

Mallory Duncan: I got into skiing at a young age, largely because of my parents. They were both—my dad, being like the primary kind of driving force behind it, was a really passionate skier. But he started skiing when he was in his late 20s. And just loved it so much that he started taking me and my sister up.

SW: Where's your favorite ski spot in Central Oregon? Where's your go-to spot?

MD: Santiam Pass.

SW: What about your dream spot to go ski?

MD: Alaska is definitely one of them. Thompson's Pass in Alaska is something I've been wanting to go out to for a really long time.

SW: So, with your dad being a Black skier, and you yourself being a Black skier, do you see yourself as an activist for Black and ethnic skiers around the world?

MD: Yeah, I do. I think that there's not that many Black people who are out here doing this type of thing. And as somebody who's had the privilege of being able to get out there and, being introduced to that at a young age, I feel like I can help in some ways, whether it's just through my own endeavors, or through the business that I run, help encourage more people out there.

SW: Can you describe your website and your business?

MD: My business is called Uhuru Mountain Collective. It is a sales and marketing agency and is kind of like what the main revenue driver is for it. And so, we do a couple of different things. But I divided it into two sides. Like I said, on the sales side, I work with brands Folkrm, Ripton and Nomadix and we sell those brands to local retailers throughout the Pacific Northwest. On the marketing side of things, we try to partner with local organizations with people, athletes, just like community members throughout the Pacific Northwest who played a big role in their communities that they're a part of.

SW: Who would you say your website is targeted toward?

MD: My website is targeted toward I would say both retailers and brands. I think the end goal is for it to be targeted towards not just brand and retailers, but also just the community at large and consumers—people in our industry. The reason I say that is because we want to put our corporate blog into it, so that people can go on there and kind of read about what I'm doing, what people I'm working with are doing and kind of just like have free information of, like, what's happening with the Uhuru Mountain team and what they're doing.

SW: What inspires you to keep going with your business and team?

MD: I was in a sales role before this. I was working with a number of large brands, working through an agency, they call us like a sub rep, which is I work for somebody else, basically. And that was a great experience; it got me really tied to the whole outdoor community with the brands, all that stuff, but I didn't have the autonomy to do what I want to do to support the events I wanted to, and to give equipment to people I wanted to and support the community and people I wanted to. So, the reason I wanted to start Uhuru Mountain Collective was to add a little bit more say in stuff.

SW: Where do you see your business in five years?

MD: I would like to build out the marketing side of things. I'd like to be able to start creating a little bit more like media, through the business. So, more blog posts, more like interviews with the Uhuru Mountain Collective team. And then I also would like to eventually produce a film project under the Uhuru Mountain Collective. That's kind of where I see it going.

SW: What do you want people of Central Oregon to know about you and your brand?

MD: I guess I want them to know that the core of my business is not about just trying to sell stuff. But, like, creating community. And providing value to consumers, brands and retailers, across the board.

SW: Is there anything that you'd like to add that we didn't discuss?

MD: Well, as it relates to Black people in our industry, I think that it's a cool opportunity for me. I've been able to be involved in skiing my entire life since I was a young lad. I also want to support organizations that are stoked to increase inclusivity and diversity in the outdoor industry. So, locally, there's that organization Vamanos Outside that's doing that type of stuff. But just my underlying goals or visions I'm talking about is creating a more diverse outdoor community and industry. Hopefully I can do that as a Black business owner.

About The Author

Trevor Bradford

Trevor considers himself the forever traveling man. Coming from a military family and with no true place to call “home,” Bend, for now, is where his dad hats hang. When he isn’t traveling you can catch him enjoying fresh air, living his best life and thinking about traveling. He graduated from Boise State University...

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