Kitten Factory: These Cats Are All About Carbon

Kitten Factory: These Cats Are All About Carbon

The East Coast shredder’s pilgrimage from the icy homeland to the big, bad mountains of the West is a romantic tale. But as common as it is, very few of the people who do it manage to build a successful ski manufacturing business along the way.

For Calvin Hawley and Kyle Alexander, a strong passion for skiing has manifested itself in the form of Kitten Factory, the beginnings of which trace back to 2005 when Hawley started pressing skis in a garage in upstate New York. In 2008, Hawley and Alexander became friends while enrolled in the University of Utah engineering program, and it wasn’t long before they made their first pair of skis together.

Producing skis remained a hobby for the duo throughout their college careers. They invested much of their time, energy and money into amassing all of the machinery needed to sustain their obsession, from ski presses to routers.

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Jeff Scott rides Kitten Factory. Photo by Kevin Lund

With the necessary equipment on hand and engineering degrees under their belts, the pair then embarked on a mission to fill a gap they saw in the market for skis that utilized carbon fiber construction. What began as a college project quickly morphed into a business plan. Kitten Factory was born out of Hawley’s mind as a name that would stick with people.

“Carbon fiber has gotten a bad rap due in part to skis that strictly looked for lighter weight as the only goal,” says Alexander. “Our emphasis is making the best downhill skis that remain lightweight, taking a different focus on carbon fiber than other companies.”

Much of the carbon fiber sourced for its skis is manufactured at Hexcel, located a stone’s throw from the company’s headquarters in Salt Lake City. Kitten Factory sources every material it can from within the United States, and all ski construction is done in-house to ensure quality.

The All-Mountain ski, Kitten Factory’s everyday driver, as well as the Carbon Pow, its powder-specific plank, feature a full carbon weave around a maple and poplar wood core, resulting in lightweight, poppy skis that don’t sacrifice stability. Not every ski produced by the brand is full carbon fiber around the wood core though, because as Alexander says, “I don’t think anyone wants to destroy an expensive pair of carbon fiber skis sliding rails.”

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In the factory.

To be more cost effective with their park-specific ski, dubbed the Rayzrblaydz, Alexander and Hawley employed a hybrid makeup of fiberglass and carbon fiber around the maple and poplar core.

Moving forward, the brand will continue to innovate at a steady pace. Hawley fears the brand getting too big for its proverbial britches. “We know we’re not going to make it big right off the bat, but we’re definitely passionate,” he explains. “We’re just focusing on slow growth and sustainability.”

Alexander believes the brand’s in-house production and hands-on approach will continue to pay dividends. “We want to keep our hands in the process, keep making skis ourselves,” he says. “We’re not looking to get rich doing it; we’re doing it because it’s fun.”


Kitten Factory Rayzrblaydz

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“The Kitten Factory Rayzrblaydz skis are a hybrid of carbon fiber and fiberglass in a symmetrical ski that’s designed to be at home in the park, while also being able to ski the entire…” Click for full review.


Kitten Factory All-Mountain

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“The Kitten Factory All-Mountain skis were made for everyday riding at the resort as well as missions in the backcountry. A full carbon fiber layup keeps the ski…” Click for full review.


Kitten Factory Carbon Pow

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“The Kitten Factory Carbon Pow skis like to get pitted on the deep days. A full carbon fiber layup keeps the weight down for quick maneuvering and easy handling…” Click for full review.

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