She says she’s a radical living in a moderate’s body. “I get all these wild ideas,” confides Danielle Kristmanson, creative director at Origin Design + Communications. “And I really get inspired by the possibilities in those ideas.” She pauses for a moment. Sighs. “But most times my body won’t allow me to go there.” And then she laughs – with not even a hint of self-consciousness or self-doubt. “And that’s turned out to be one of my biggest strengths,” she says.
The founder and co-owner of what has become, arguably, the Canadian snowsport industry’s premiere boutique design and branding firm, Kristmanson is a typical 21st century Whistler warrior woman, with a hubby, two young kids and a full-time job – yet with a sense of engaged fun in life that is truly impressive.
“I love people who challenge the status quo,” she explains. “I have a huge amount of respect for people who can think independently and come up with new ideas – no matter how radical.” Another pause. “But my role is different.”
Different how? “In a way, I look at myself as somebody capable of making those really ‘out there’ ideas more palatable to the mainstream,” she explains. “I’m definitely attracted to life on the edge. But I’m much more comfortable being on the inside, moderating – modifying those ideas – so that people who aren’t necessarily living that lifestyle can get it too.”
Considering Origin’s success in recent years, that method certainly seems to work. “We decided to take a vertically-focused approach to our business,” she says. “And that too has been a great strength for us. We know snow culture. And we know snowsports. And people in the industry realize that.”
Another quick burst of laughter. ‘We have something to say,” she adds. “And people are listening. We’re considered experts now. And there aren’t that many people out there who have our kind of expertise…”
With heavyweight resort clients ranging from Whistler-Blackcomb and Whistler Tourism locally to Jay Peak and Mont Saint-Sauveur back east — and with snowsport brands like Salomon, Kombi, Nikita, Liquid Boardwear and Recco Avalanche Rescue Systems on board for good measure — there is no question that the little-Whistler-design-firm-that-could has come a long way.
So how did she do it? How did Kristmanson parlay a one-person graphic design firm into the current marketing darling of the snowsport universe?
“Our corporate slogan at Origin is: ‘You are where you live,’” she explains. And she admits that the slogan sometimes gets misinterpreted as: ‘We’re from Whistler. We get it. We’re cool.’ But that’s not what it’s about at all, she says.