Getting ready for a day of boarding down a mountain of fresh powder, Sheridan Conway takes her board out of its protective case. Her case looks a lot different than most of her fellow boarders. No, not because of an odd color or design, but because it's unique – it's her own invention.
Not many people expect to be deep in the business world at the age of 18. But for Conway, a sophomore business major, studying at UB by day and working as a product inventor by night is nothing unusual.
Conway is one of the minds behind a new product known as Snowboard Skyns.
Conway was fed up with lugging her snowboard around in a bag that did nothing but gather water and rust her board and wanted a solution. She teamed up with her cousin, Gary Iwankow, and her father, Richard Conway, to invent a better alternative to the bulky and ineffective bag.
"A simple way to think about Snowboard Skyns is like a spandex, almost elastic, cover that just goes over your board, rather then a bag," Conway said. "It's breathable, it's compact, you can actually roll it up and fit it in your pocket."
Conway's role in the business goes beyond mere inspiration; she is responsible for marketing and promoting the Snowboard Skyns. She also plays an active role in advertising the family product.
Christopher Horvatits, a junior broadcasting major at SUNY Oswego and close friend to Conway, believes that Conway's ambitious character is the heart and soul behind the family business.
"If she so much as sniffs an opportunity, she'll go for it," Horvatits said. "She really strives to challenge herself. I really see a lot of little kid in her. What I mean by that is she doesn't let the challenges of a situation deter her from going for it. And I admire that about her. If there's something that she really wants, nobody will outwork her for it."
Iwankow was the technical brain behind the Snowboard Skyns. He modelled the Skyns off of traditional surfboard covers and used the marketing and business talents of Richard Conway to turn the product into a successful sale item.
"Working with my cousin and her father has been really simple because they are helping me achieve my goal of making my invention a success," Iwankow said. "Working with family is easy, as long as everyone understands the difference between work and family."
Richard owns Ingenious Products Incorporated. Using his business knowledge and connections, he has been able to assist Conway and Iwankow in making their product idea a reality.
"I am very excited about my daughters interest in being involved in the family business," Richard Conway said. "She brings a lot of fresh ideas and insight to the market Snowboard Skyns is targeting. I am teaching her the ins and outs of what it takes to market a product successfully, and I am hopeful for her future within the family business."
Horvatits shares the same optimism as Richard Conway for his daughter's future in business.
"There's no doubt in my mind that if she really wants to she can make something out of this business," Horvatits said. "She's a savvy girl and she has all of the tools necessary to be successful in the business world."
Conway is happy to just take each day as it comes at the moment. She is currently working with her cousin and father to get the Snowboard Skyns in stores for this coming snow season. As for a future career in business, that is just all a part of the big dream.
"I would love to make a career out of this," Conway said. "I get to work with my family and help create a product I really believe in, for a sport that I love."