Before Tatum Monod even dreamt of skiing big lines, she was drawn to the sales floor of the family ski shop. Folding clothes after grade school, long before she could even see over the till, Tatum literally grew up at Monod Sports — a Banff-based mountain sports store founded by her grandfather in 1949.
She gravitated toward selling women’s outerwear and apparel, and quickly became an expert on yearly advancements to technical designs and style. Being exposed to an array of specialized mountain equipment and clothing during her early years solidified her future as the ultimate gear nerd.
“I became so passionate about what I was selling that I could literally talk about product all day,” Tatum said. “I knew that one day I wanted to design it.”
Despite being immersed in the culture and equipment from a young age, Tatum didn’t start skiing until the age of 12. Naturally, it didn’t take long to recognize that skiing was part of the Monod DNA. She joined the prestigious Alberta Alpine Ski Team at 15, climbed the international ranks, and was offered a ski-racing scholarship to the University of Alaska Anchorage.
She opted to give up the gates in pursuit of big mountain lines at the age of 18. Moving to Revelstoke B.C. on a whim, she entered her very first Freeride World Tour event and placed second overall — establishing the beginning of an all-encompassing stand out free skiing career that would lead her away from design.
But ten years later, Tatum’s recent affiliation with Vancouver-based outerwear company Arc’teryx has her rediscovering the realm of design. She has her sights set on working and learning from the brand’s world-renowned in-house designers.
I’m super excited for what’s to come and to return to the world of design.
“I’ve always looked up to Arc’teryx because they work with some of the best seamstresses in the world,” said Tatum. “When I toured their facilities in North Vancouver and saw all the machinery on site, I realized how cool it would be to get involved in whatever capacity I could.”
A long history of design, skiing, fame, and injury
Tatum’s initial showing at the Freeride World Tour snowballed into heavy stint on the international circuit. But it didn’t take long before her creative edge took over and she shifted her focus toward filming. In 2014, she landed a segment in Level 1 Productions’ feature film, “Less,” won best female edit at the International Freeski Film Festival, and was named FREESKIER’s Skier of the Year. When she wasn’t skiing, she studied fashion design at Salt Lake City Community College (SLCC) —specializing in technical apparel and outerwear.
“After years of competing in different disciplines and filming video parts, I really recognized the importance of technical and stylish gear,” she explained. “I believe that your kit completely affects how you feel, which in turn dictates how you ski. I wanted to be a part of designing products that women felt comfortable and empowered in.”
Developing first hand knowledge as an athlete in the field, and as a salesperson in the shop, Tatum began to recognize the flaws that existed in women’s ski product. She struggled with the “form fitting” trend that once dominated women’s outerwear, raising concerns over the fits mobility and warmth.
“I’d always be excited to get new gear, but when I unpacked it, I found that it was all cinched at the waist, short, and tight. I could hardly even move in it, let alone ski in it,” she added.
The goal was to design products that women actually wanted to wear. At SLCC, she mastered the basics skills to make that happen — from pattern drafting, to sewing and production. As life happens and new-found ski opportunities arose, she ended up dropping out in her the second year of schooling.
“I remember walking home from school and receiving a phone call from Red Bull, they told me I was on the team. I dropped everything to focus on skiing from then on out,” Tatum said. “Things really started to feel real.”
The following years were characterized by a flurry of high profile sponsorships, awards and recognitions, epic backcountry trips, and ski movie segments. But in 2017, this momentum came to a halt after suffering a traumatic knee injury while filming in Alaska — ensuing a repair and recovery process lasting nearly two-years-long. She didn’t know if she’d ever ski again, let alone make a full recovery.
This meant a lot of downtime. Time for her to grow, both mentally and physically, to ensure she returned to the ski scene stronger than ever. And also, time to reconnect with passions outside of skiing, like technical design.
Going Full Circle
Tatum’s return to the big mountain scene has shown the world that her capabilities and creativity lie both on and off her skis.
In her upcoming project with CK9 studios, she’s assumed a producer role, meaning she’ll have more oversight of the final product. Launching Fall 2021, the film explores different chapters of Tatum’s life, exemplifying that skiing is a key component of the Monod DNA.
Additionally, she signed with Vancouver-based outwear company Arc’teryx earlier this year and enrolled in a design program through the CUT Fashion Academy, in hopes of brushing up her design skills to collaborate further with Arc’teryx designs.
“I’m able to provide valuable product feedback, but above and beyond, I feel like I can help them develop both their ski and lifestyle apparel,” she added. “My dream is to live and breathe the brand, and incorporate it into my everyday.”
“I’m super excited for what’s to come and to return to the world of design.”