GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A woman from West Michigan received national recognition this week by being named on Forbes 30 Under 30 list for retail and e-commerce.

Ariana Ferwerda is from Silver Lake and graduated from Michigan State University.

The 27-year-old now lives in Denver, where she co-founded the high-end women’s ski apparel company Halfdays.

Ariana Ferwerda. (Courtesy)

The company, which uses recycled materials, officially launched in November of 2020.

“We started working on it when my co-founder and I were 23 years old, so we didn’t have a ton of money to be able to put into this business,” Ferwerda said.

She said the idea for the company came from the lack of women’s ski clothing that looked great and was also functional.

“We decided to start working on a company that created fashion-forward technical women’s skiwear that really fit better than the other brands on the market,” Ferwerda said.

Ferwerda, along with co-founder and Olympic skier Kiley McKinnon, learned Tuesday that they had made the prestigious Forbes list.    

“I think everybody was really excited and I think that the people closest to me who have seen the amount of work that we put into this over the past couple of years were definitely super excited and proud of us,” Ferwerda said.

  • Ariana Ferwerda and her Halfdays co-founders. (Courtesy)
  • Ariana Ferwerda and her Halfdays co-founders. (Courtesy)

The brand has also been available at major retailer like Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, and Backcountry.

Ferwerda said being involved with skiing at a young age in Michigan helped shape her career path.

“I also was apart of ski club, like in middle school, and that’s really when I kind of became interested in skiing. Definitely went skiing with my family (at) some of the local mountains like Crystal Mountain and Boyne Mountain,” Ferwerda said.

The Michigan State University graduate said going from concept to a real business was not easy.

“Being a female and being young there are a lot of barriers you have to overcome with starting a company and also trying to be taken seriously for investment,” Ferwerda said.

She said getting access to funding was one of the biggest hurdles.

“In the world of venture capital investing, which we’ve taken on investment from, venture capital funds being a female entrepreneur is really really difficult. There’s a huge discrepancy between the amount of venture capital dollars that are being allocated to women versus men,” Ferwerda said.

With the recognition of the Forbes list, Ferwerda hopes to help the business continue its growth.

“We would love to be kind of an overarching outdoor apparel brand for women, be able to sell globally,” Ferwerda said.