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Anna Laxague: Risk Manager, Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort + Owner/Artist, Basko Creative

Anna with her dog Enzo.

Meet the ski patrol manager, artist and namesake of our Anna Task Pant and Hoodie.

What does a day in your work life look like?

In the winter, a good day has a mix of office work, like insurance claim management, or investigating a work-related hazard or guest incident. I may take a break to get a few runs in, then hold a workplace safety training with one of our departments. A less-good winter day would be all-day in the office, or investigating or assisting with a large-scale emergency. 

In the summer, I get to use my background in trail building, design and education to build and maintain our hiking trail system, train our team on maintenance, and plan for future development. 

What did you want to be when you were growing up, or a little kid?

I don't really plan much. Even when I was a kid, I didn't have a vision of what I wanted to do as an adult, but I knew I loved playing outside, and I was always interested in human biology and medicine. My mom was a nurse, so I saw myself going into the medical field, which I did for a hot a second, getting my EMT at 18 and Wilderness EMT shortly after with the goal of becoming a Paramedic. This was derailed when I realized I could get a degree in Outdoor Recreation.

Anna training Enzo at Mt. Hood

How did you get to know Sara, our co-founder who heads up product development?

When Dovetail (Moxie and Moss at the time) had their first pant available for pre-order, I ordered a pair, and they quickly became a popular pant with the women I work with at the mountain. I think I either wrote a review, or may have just sent an email to Sara to say thanks, and share the stoke from the ladies on Ski Patrol and the Avalanche Dog Handlers who were all rocking Moxy and Moss Mavens. She invited me out to meet the team and do some wear testing, and we’ve stayed in touch. I have wear-tested a couple pants that were made with CORDURA®️  fabric. One pair of pants and one pair of overalls. 

Tell us something dirty.

Once while designing a new mountain bike trail in Lyme County, New Jersey, I looked down to discover my clothing was literally crawling with ticks. I was the only one in the group who had walked through a section of dense brush that was infested. We had to turn duct tape inside out and roll it down my clothes to pull the ones on the outside off. Each piece of tape would be full after one swipe. We stopped counting at 300 ticks– there was easily double that. I had to strip, wrap myself in a towel at the trailhead, and get a ride to the house we were staying at for the week with someone I'd just met that afternoon. We consulted a doctor, who instructed me to get a pack of disposable razors and use them all... then continuously check my hair every couple hours. Good times.

How does one get to be the risk manager at Oregon’s largest ski resort, and have time to create beautiful wood art?

I started working in the outdoor industry as a kid and never left. I've learned a lot of what I do as a Risk Manager on the job, but also have a background in Recreation Risk Management/User Management both from my education and past professional positions. I studied Outdoor Recreation Leadership and Tourism with a side of Education in college, which rooted me even more into the outdoor industry. 

On the art side, I grew up with two very creative parents and my dad taught me how to carve/finish wood when I was a kid. The whole family helped with home renovations and projects, so I've always been pretty comfortable working with wood.

I've always been a creative person, but never imagined I'd ever make something that someone would trade me money for, so I started making art much later in life. I sustained an injury while mountain biking that required a fair bit of downtime to recover, and I didn't handle being stuck inside very well. My mom suggested I go get some art supplies and make something, so I did! It's turned into a very rewarding side hustle that I'd love to turn into a main hustle some day. I've learned a ton since I started my business. Most of it has been trial and error– I'm really good at learning the hard way.

Anna in her woodshop.

What do you want people to know about being a woman in your field?

It's been challenging, frustrating, and really amazing to see how the outdoor industry has changed for women since my first job at a ski resort as a kid. It continues to get better and I can't wait to see where we go. I just wish we could move a little faster when it comes to elevating diversity, equity and inclusion in the outdoor industry, and especially the ski industry.

How do you encourage other women to start doing what you do?

For folks interested in Safety/Risk Management, look for companies that value their team, prioritize growth and focus strongly on safety. There are a lot of companies out there that do the bare minimum required by OSHA when it comes to workplace safety and risk management. I wouldn't have a job in a company like that. Because my employer prioritizes the safety and wellness of their team, I get to spend a ton of time promoting those values, training people, and learning from our mistakes. 

On creative work: if you like making stuff, make it. Keep making it and learning from your mistakes, and figuring out what you like to make… Then just keep doing that over and over again.

Who’s a role model who helped you in your journey to where you are?

There are too many to list. I've had some of the most amazing bosses, friends, family members, co-workers who've all had a role in getting me to where I am. My current boss (and friend) Mel Toney is someone who regularly inspires me, challenges me to be better, and grow, all while being supportive and kind. She's got this incredible strength and determination and the biggest heart. I'll always work to be more like Mel.

What does workwear designed for women mean to you?

It's the best! My first pair of Dovetail pants made me feel like a badass. It was the first time I'd felt sturdy, stretchy workwear that moved with my body and that I liked the look of. Beyond that, it made me feel good to buy them from a woman-led company. It made me feel a sense of belonging to the dirty side of work, where I've always liked to be. There's something indescribable about being a woman who's grown up in a male-dominated recreation and work life, surrounded by men, literally wearing men's clothes, to finally get clothing that's made for my body. It's like this sign from our corner of the world saying, "you belong here.”

What are you great at, and what do you suck at?

I'm great at making messes and making things. I struggle with focus on tasks that I'm either not good at or that are mundane. I tend to procrastinate. For example, I'm great at making a cool piece of art... Then I suck at taking photos of it, putting it on my website, promoting it, printing out the shipping label when it sells, packaging it and taking it to the UPS store.

What scares you?

Sleeping without my ears being covered up

What are the top five things that are always in your pockets?

Dog treats, phone, knife, airpods, pine needles, random pieces of garbage found in the woods

What are you doing when you’re not working hard?

Rafting the Rogue River with good friends, hiking or biking on a trail with my dog and husband, sitting around a campfire with all the aforementioned people and animals, or working on improving our house and property.

Tell us something surprising about you.

People are often surprised by how short I am when they meet me if we've only talked on the phone or zoom. Apparently I give off tall lady energy.

If you could give your 20-year-old-self advice, what would it be?

Wear sunblock, buy the van.

Check out Basko Creative here.

Dovetail Workwear Disclaimer: We are not the boss of our Women At Work! They say it their way and wear it their way.