Olympian, activist, and designer, Gretchen Bleiler is anything but typical. Currently residing in Aspen, Colorado, the birthplace of her passion for snowboarding, Bleiler’s non-traditional creativity coupled with her discipline in becoming an Olympic level athlete make her a perfect Joie Sunday Girl. We sat down with Gretchen to hear about how she found success in a male dominant sport, and how snowboarding gave rise to her current passion as an environmental activist. Read on to learn more about this competitive free spirit, you might just get inspired in the process.
Describe your typical Sunday.
I share time between Aspen, Colorado, and Encinitas, California, and I also travel a lot. The one constant in my life is my morning yoga practice — which consists of yoga, pranayama, and meditation. From there, who knows where the day might lead? One of my favorite morning spots in town is Spring Cafe, because of the bright, light, modern, and cozy atmosphere and because they have one of the most insane chai tea lattes. It’s made with their homemade nut milk — it’s creamy and delicious! Aspen’s cobblestone walking mall and taking Kota to play at the dog park are all typical ways I enjoy a beautiful morning. Being out in nature up in the mountains in Aspen is really special and where I feel most connected.
What’s it like living in Aspen?
Aspen is home, but it’s also my favorite place on earth. Who I am today has a lot to do with being surrounded by the incredible power of nature and the community here. We moved to Aspen when I was 10 years old, and immediately, I was whisked away by its beauty. Aspen is home to the most innovative and thought-provoking world-class events, music, art, and restaurants. The people of the community are all influencers and leaders in human potential — from mountaineers to artists, Olympians, actors, musicians, authors, and entrepreneurs. If you want to be stirred and inspired outside of your daily routine and ideas of what’s possible, the Aspen Idea — a philosophy of “mind, body, spirit” — will most definitely be your springboard.
What first got you into snowboarding?
I grew up in a little town called Oakwood outside of Dayton, Ohio. Ever since I was 7 years old, I’d dreamed of becoming an Olympian, but I didn’t know how I was going to do it. My family was always very active and athletic, and with three brothers, we were always playing traditional sports. Whatever sport I was participating in, I swam, hit, kicked, and ran as fast and as hard as I could, whenever I could, because that was the only way I knew how to one day realize my dream. When we moved to Aspen, my dream didn’t fade — it just pivoted, and I traded in my one-piece swimsuit and goggles for ice hockey skates, and my tennis shoes and racket for some really baggy pants and a snowboard! Interestingly, I chose snowboarding back in the early ’90s, when it was the furthest thing from an Olympic sport. In fact, it wasn’t even considered a sport — it was just a “fad,” and it wasn’t even allowed on most mountain resorts, including Aspen Mountain. But I chose to do it anyway — one, because my older brothers were snowboarders and I always wanted to do whatever they were doing; and two, because it was so different from the path of traditional sports. Snowboarding was fresh and new, and it was a movement of creativity, camaraderie, and abundance. There was a rebellion against rules and restrictions in snowboarding, because everyone was just making up the rules as they went along. It was more important to be innovative and to be a trailblazer, and style was a big part of all of it.
What was it that persuaded you to really go for it and pursue a lifelong career in the sport?
In 1998, snowboarding was inducted into the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. That was the first time in my life when I knew I wanted to go to the Olympics for snowboarding. Identifying that path was one step, but then having the courage to actually go for it was an entirely different level of commitment and courage. When I graduated from high school the very next year, I had to jump off the traditional path to pursue this new dream, which was one of the biggest decisions I had ever made in my life. I had always worked really hard in school to get great grades so that I could go to a good college, and now I wasn’t just deciding not to go to college — I was choosing not to go to college to try to become a professional snowboarder! Having the courage to really stand up for that choice time and time again was not always easy and never certain, but I always say that a life of fulfillment and pursuing your purpose is a life worth living!
Was it hard competing in the sport as a woman?
When I first started competing in local USASA events with the Aspen Valley Snowboard Team, there were only a handful of other women competing. It was very male-dominant, and at first it was intimidating, but then I realized that riding and hanging with the guys was a way to really excel, and this wasn’t unfamiliar to me. I grew up in a family with three brothers, so I was used to being the odd one out. The women who came before me — not just in snowboarding, but in sports in general — really paved the way, so that when I came into snowboarding, I felt like we were leaps and bounds ahead of other sports in terms of equality.
You’ve probably had the opportunity to travel all over for work. Where are your favorite places to travel? Does your husband usually tag along?
My husband used to be a pro snowboarder as well, which is how we met, so he is very familiar with this traveling lifestyle and the glamorous and not-so-glamorous parts of the job. We’re also both surfers, and so when we’re not traveling to cold, wintry destinations, we travel to warm, tropical places to thaw and play in the waves. For snowboarding, Japan and New Zealand are a couple of my favorite places — Japan because of the difference in culture, the very kind people, the food and the insane snow! New Zealand because of the gorgeous landscape and the pace of life. Life seems much more simple there, and I guess I’m drawn to warm places because of that very reason. You don’t need a lot of material things when you’re living in a tropical environment, and so life becomes more about experiences and being with the people you love.
What is the one thing most people don’t know about you or would be surprised to learn about you?
My body has a really hard time regulating in the cold! It’s ironic, since I became a pro snowboarder and have spent most of my life in the cold, but it’s another reason I have loved riding the halfpipe. Even on the coldest of days, you can stay warm by hiking the pipe!
How does fashion play a role in your life and/or career?
I think what you wear is really important, because it’s an extension or even a representation of who you are and who you want to be in life. When I’m on the mountain, I want to look good. I want to look like me. I want to be feminine, but also unique, and a bit edgy and badass, too — all of it! I was really fortunate to have had my own signature collection of eyewear, outwear, lifestyle apparel, and accessories called the Gretchen Bleiler Collection. I loved designing because I was able to create all the pieces that I always wanted to wear on the mountain. It’s very rare to find outerwear that is a true blend of fashion and technical materials that are going to be flexible and move the way you need them to and keep you dry and warm! The same is true in life and off the mountain: It’s about the materials and how they move, and how they feel on your body, but also the way you look in them and how they make you feel about yourself. There’s a reason Wonder Woman wears a costume. It makes her feel more powerful and confident, and helps her do extraordinary things! When you’re rocking your own style fully, I think it empowers you to rise to your full potential.
Being an Olympian is such an amazing life accomplishment — what do see as next for yourself?
Through the process of becoming an Olympian, I’ve opened myself up to so many other passions and opportunities. One is being an advocate and activist for our environment and using my voice and my platform to help bring people together to tackle the challenges that are before us. I’ve always loved to push past boundaries and limitations and ask what’s really possible, and I think humanity right now is at a really interesting crossroads with regard to climate change. We can either see it as a threat and become overwhelmed and frozen in our own tracks, or we can shift our perspectives and see it as a challenge and an opportunity to really become even more sustainable, smart, and efficient. That is why my husband and I started our company ALEX — “Always Live Extraordinarily.” ALEX is a stainless steel, reusable water bottle that opens up in the middle for easy cleaning. It’s compactable, and it’s also customizable, and the name is a reminder to live life to the fullest through our everyday decisions and actions. For me, living that life is just as important as inspiring that message in others. That’s how I believe we will be able to live in a more connected and engaged society. I’m now spreading this message through my writing, teaching, and through my company ALEX.
Any essential piece of advice you would give or words to live by?
I believe that the dreams we have, that burn deep within us, are not random at all, but are in fact pointing us in the direction of our greatest potential, happiness, and success in life. Whether we one day realize those dreams or not, we cannot fail, because living our lives every day with meaning and purpose and revolving our actions and decisions around something that moves us is the point! When we have the courage to listen and then to choose in that direction, it opens up a whole new way of being in the world. And that’s the world I want to live in!
Shop Her Picks
Haesel C Cashmere Poncho$498.00 $298.80
Abba Silk Dress$398.00 $238.80
Camille Sweater$348.00 $208.80
Ksora Silk Dress$338.00 $202.80
Petronille Scarf$398.00 $238.80
Jamilee B Sweater$428.00 $256.80
Suzettea Silk Blouse$268.00 $160.80
Daylan B Top$188.00 $112.80
Yolana Pant$268.00 $160.80
Monte Booties$365.00 $146.00
Delyth Boots$295.00 $177.00
More Sunday Girls
Skai Jackson & Kiya Cole Mother-Daughter Goals
Child star, teenage role model and emerging style-icon all define actress Skai Jackson. Her number one fan and stunning mother, Kiya Cole, is with her every step of the way. This mother & daughter duo open up about a budding career, fashion inspiration, and what their close-knit family relationship is like off screen…
Emma Henderson & Victoria Beattie: Founders of The Beach People
Clear summer skies are just around the corner and we couldn’t be more excited to get whisked away, be carefree and inspired by our bucket-list destination travels. This month, Emma Henderson and Victoria Beattie of The Beach People, take us to the land down under, where they share their best-kept secrets and celebrate our A La Plage summer capsule collection and our exclusive Roundie towel collaboration to accompany our seaside escapes and beyond…
Founder of CamilleStyles.com
This season we celebrate our store opening at Domain Northside, and enjoy the sunny skies of Austin with Camille Styles, founder of CamilleStyles.com. A creative & energetic spirit, Camille welcomes us into her gorgeous home and shares with us a few of her favorite neighborhood spots while reminding us of the importance of living a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle
Social Editor at L’Officiel
As we wind down from the whirlwind that is fashion month, we spend a morning with Sabina Socol, the chic social editor of French fashion magazine, L’Officiel Paris. Always on top of the latest news, this “It Girl” shows us around her dreamy flat and shares her best kept secrets behind personal style, the best cuisine in town, and inspires us with her love of journalism to pick up a pen and start writing.
Creative Director & Owner of Blooms by Drea Floral and Event Design
This February, we’re celebrating the month of love with Andrea Swain, soon-to-be bride and event and floral designer behind Blooms by Drea. We catch up with Andrea at home as she effortlessly styles our bohemian and vintage-inspired pieces from our exclusive wedding capsule collection before jetting off to her own destination wedding in Cartagena, Colombia.
Fashion Director and Editor
For Fashion Director and Editor, Caroline Issa, it may not be all glitz and glam prepping for the fervor of fashion month in between editorial meetings, shoots and brand consulting. Yet this stylish sartorial influencer is as prepared as ever, taking her favorite looks from our exclusive winter capsule collection to the streets of Paris and getting us geared up for fashion month with a few of her tips & tricks of the trade.
TV Host and Fashion Journalist
It’s officially gift giving season and we’re celebrating with Louise Roe - author of Front Roe. Join us as we chat Sunday indulgences, unforgettable career moments, and all things holiday. This down-to-earth beauty is no stranger to “front row” experiences and is our go-to girl on cultivating personal style and leading a life filled with confidence.
Founder of Mara Carrizo Scalise Jewelry
Meet Mara Carrizo Scalise–the Argentinian jewelry designer whose passion for travel, eye for unusual vintage, and love for the simple beauty found in nature has influenced the concept behind her namesake jewelry line, handmade in LA. With a lengthy list of loyal celebrity clientele, Mara’s dainty, everyday pieces are the perfect complement to Joie’s perennially chic style. Keep scrolling to read more on the inspiration behind her collection and be sure to check out her pieces featured in the Joie Holiday Shop.
Founder and Partner of GOGOLUXE
Keeping up with the trends is no easy feat in an industry that’s always on the move. That’s why this month, we put the spotlight on in-the-know fashion retail and luxury brand consultant, Ramya Giangola. Named one of New York’s most fashionable women time and time again, Ramya has made a name for herself scouting and guiding “it" developments across design, travel, food and, of course, fashion. We catch up with the stylish working mom in her new Hollywood Hills home and get the scoop on all that’s new and noteworthy for fall…
SVP, Fashion Director at Saks Fifth Avenue
September is officially here and while many are mourning the last bit of summer, the fashion world has eagerly shifted gears in anticipation for the season’s long-awaited fall fervor. With the shows in full swing, we’ve tapped Saks Fifth Avenue’s SVP, Fashion Director and trend forecasting expert, Roopal Patel, for a few inside tips on navigating Fashion Week like a pro. Keep scrolling for her insider tips to survive the month-long fête.
Founder & Creative Director of Simone LeBlanc
Personal stylist turned LA’s most trusted gift-giving guru, Simone LeBlanc, created her dream job—traveling to alluring destinations to source and curate her well-adorned, lavish gift-boxes for friends, clients, and celebrities alike. This month, we sat down with the gifting queen in her Hollywood Hills home and talk personal taste, the meaningful touch, and of course, life on Sundays with her adorable daughter Lillian…
Founder of Crowell Lane Creative
Following our Malibu visit with Minnie Mortimer Gaghan, we cross coasts during the height of summer and relax oceanside in the Hamptons. Join us as Laney Crowell – founder of digital branding agency Crowell Lane— takes us to her favorite seaside shops and shares her personal fashion and interior style tips. With the quaint aesthetics of summer in the Hamptons and blooming flowers as our backdrop, we promise Crowell's view will make you want to pack a bag and head to the beach.
Co-founder of Vainité
To celebrate the summer collection and Joie’s coastal lifestyle, we're taking our summer vacation from the breathtaking shores of Malibu all the way to the pristine sands of Montauk. Join us as we travel coast-to-coast and catch up with Minnie Mortimer, co-founder of the luxury beauty experience Vainité, and the stylish Laney Crowell, founder of Laney Crowell Creative. Get swept away as we explore Minnie’s stunning oceanfront refuge and get a taste for her laid-back Los Angeles lifestyle. Then jet-set across the country with us next week for a relaxing stay in the Hamptons as we take a trip to the beach with Laney and talk summer essentials. After all, this season is all about travel and lasting memories, so why not pack your bags with your favorite Joie dress and take a vacation with us?
Founder of Max-Bone Boutique
In laid-back Malibu, California, where day trips to the beach and beautiful summer skies are endless, we tap this month’s Sunday Girl, the sophisticated globe trotter and Max-Bone founder & designer, Parisa Fowles-Pazdro. From the pristine sands of Zuma to the iconic Surfrider Beach, Malibu’s surfer style and bohemian way of life are the perfect backdrop for the Joie summer collection. This month we visit Parisa in her home away from home, the Max-Bone store in Cross Creek and talk summer getaways, Sundays in Malibu, and her adorable bulldog Mackintosh. We couldn’t help but be inspired by her carefree wanderlust, and we are sure you will agree.
Inspired, passionate, and accomplished are all attributes that can be used to describe our May Sunday Girls. We've tapped ten stunning women who are breaking barriers in their respective industries while doing an incredible job as parents. With today's working mothers prioritizing their careers and simultaneously dedicating time to raising their children, work-life balance has become an integral part of the everyday routine and each of our Sunday Girls go above and beyond just that. Even though Mother's Day only comes once a year, we believe that honoring great moms should happen year-round. Happy Mother’s Day to our Sunday Girls around the world.
Owner of Camelback Flower Shop
Now that spring has officially arrived and flowers are on all of our minds, we take a moment to chat with Scottsdale’s Camelback Flowershop owner Teresa Wilson about her Sunday routine, florals vs. fronds, and the inspiration behind her recently launched candle collection.
Founder of Jennifer Zeuner Jewelry
In celebration of the launch of Jennifer Zeuner's delicate jewelry line in Joie stores, we've tapped the Southern-based designer to talk all things Sunday, her secret formula for layering necklaces, and the unexpected muse that inspired her line.
With Valentine’s Day upon us, it would seem only natural to catch up with Rosie O’Neill, the sugar-loving co-founder of luxury candy boutique, Sugarfina—and chat Sundays, champagne gummies, and the love story that started it all…
This month, we sit down with Kassia Meador—the free-spirited pro-surfer, wetsuit designer, and photographer from Los Angeles—and talk life growing up in Southern California, inspiration and what’s in store for 2016…
The Trio Behind STRIIIKE
Meet the effortlessly talented Streicher sisters: Kristie, Ashley and Jenn, the trio behind STRIIIKE – a collaborative family business and beauty studio in Los Angeles where hair, makeup and feathered brows are artfully crafted under one roof.
PARTNERS AT SWEET LAUREL BAKERY
Friends-turned-business partners Claire Thomas and Laurel Gallucci are the duo behind whole foods focused baking company, Sweet Laurel Bakery.
"Aspen is home to the most innovative and thought-provoking world-class events, music, art, and restaurants. The people of the community are all influencers and leaders in human potential — from mountaineers to artists, Olympians, actors, musicians, authors, and entrepreneurs."Photography By Matt Power
"If you want to be stirred and inspired outside of your daily routine and ideas of what’s possible, the Aspen Idea, a philosophy of ‘mind, body, spirit’ will most definitely be your spring board."
Pictured: Bleiler in Suzettea BlousePhotography By Matt Power
"I think what you wear is really important because it’s an extension or even a representation of who you are and even who you want to be in life. When I’m on the mountain I want to look good, I want to look like me, I want to be feminine, but also unique, and a bit edgy and badass too- all of it!"
Pictured: Bleiler wears the Jamilee B Sweater,
So Real Skinny Jeans in Storm (Coming Soon, similar here) and Delyth BootsPhotography By Matt Power
"My body has a really hard time regulating in the cold! It’s ironic, since I became a pro snowboarder and have spent most of my life in the cold, but it’s another reason I have loved riding the halfpipe. Even on the coldest of days, you can stay warm by hiking the pipe!"
Pictured: Monte BootsPhotography By Matt Power
"Through the process of becoming an Olympian, I’ve opened myself up to so many other passions and opportunities. One is being an advocate and activist for our environment and using my voice and my platform to help bring people together in order to tackle the challenges that are before us."
Pictured: Abba DressPhotography By Matt Power
"The women who came before me, not just in snowboarding, but in sports in general, really paved the way so that when I came into snowboarding, I felt like we were leaps and bounds ahead of other sports in terms of equality."
Pictured: Bleiler wears the Daylan B Shirt and Yolana PantsPhotography By Matt Power
"I believe that the dreams we have, that burn deep within us, are not random at all, but they are in fact pointing us in the direction of our greatest potential, happiness and success in life."
Pictured: Bleiler in the Camille SweaterPhotography By Matt Power