Hello! I’m Toby.
And I've been a skier for over 40 years.
In that time, I’ve competed in freestyle and alpine, I’ve been an instructor, I joined the volunteer ski patrol, I’ve worked in ski resort hotels and managed ski lodges.
My obsession with the mountains, snow and skiing started when I was very young. And I am reminded of my parent’s resilience every time I go up a T-bar with someone shorter than my waist, as the T-bar sits behind my knees and pays me back one ride at a time for the hundreds of times I went up as a child. I might not have said it at the time, but ‘thanks guys'.
I started tinkering with snow related vehicles when (after watching a French news report on the ’Winterstick’ in 1983), I made my own ‘Winterstick’ and took it down to Perisher. They didn’t know what to make of it back then, and wouldn’t even let me up on the lifts, so backcountry trekking (okay, it was only walking up North-P) was the way to get it done. I still have that snowboard on my wall today. And it still looks good. It is a fully custom made board after all.
Since those formative days, I have continued to ski on as many sizes, shapes, flex patterns and materials of ski I could find. I've hung around and worked with some amazing people in the ski industry and absorbed as much knowledge as I could. Every now and then I found ‘those’ skis. The ones that just worked from the first turn. But I found that as skis were designed and manufactured to suit a broad range of skier, it was more luck than science that lead me to find a pair that worked (I mean really worked) for me. When they wore out, it was hard to find a replacement that worked as well. So I started asking ‘why’. I learnt about the process of making a ski. What goes into it and why. Camber profile, side radius, taper, edge thickness, etc.
I discovered that there are great artisan manufacturers out there who really care about
what they are building and how it works under your feet. They listen to their customers and put the feedback into their products. They make their skis by hand. With care and attention. In small batches. Their skis behave better, last longer and feel the way they should. They are skis to be proud of.
Our aim at Blackbird is to ensure that we match you to the right pair of skis, so you find ‘that’ feeling again. All skiers are different, so why aren’t your skis? We like to find out how you ski, where you ski and what you want to ski, amongst other things. This way, we get to know more about ‘you’ so we can tailor your selection to what we know will provide you the best experience.
Why do I love skiing and inspiring other people to ski more, too?
I love skiing because it creates so much joy. I see it in the faces of first timers and seasoned ski bums. It’s the same look - pure joy in that moment. As I have introduced people to skiing I see how infectious it is and it isn’t long before they’re looking for ways to enhance their experience, ski wider terrain and explore mountains. It makes a positive ripple in the world - and it starts with a willingness to share the good stuff.
With the right pair of skis under foot (and some very comfy boots), it can dramatically change someone’s skiing experience. After getting my wife (Kate) into some comfy boots and on a set of skis that were perfect for her, I found that it had a profound effect not only on our ski trips, but the rest of the year too!
If there is something on this website that inspires you to invest in some handcrafted skis, plan a ski trip, introduce someone to skiing or just share a ski story, that’s awesome.
You never know how you might change someone else’s whole life.
My alter-ego is the one who has been working in marketing and the digital realm. I am constantly researching on how to be at the forefront of online retail, marketing and social media. I particularly love the disruptive nature of the internet but promise to use it for good, not evil.
When I'm not skiing, you'll find me rowing sculls, cycling or surfing with my wife Kate, Mrs Blackbird. - T
Hello! I’m Kate.
My first taste of skiing was at Zell Am See in Austria where my sister and I thought it would be great to learn how to ski... from the top of a European mountain... without a lesson. Nothing like throwing ourselves into it head first. That long walk back down the mountain was 14 years ago. I didn't go skiing again for five years.
Toby re-introduced me to skiing and since that day, I ski in each month of winter (and get some spring turns in too), plus I ski in Japan regularly and have plans for further world ski destinations.
Flashback to 2014 when we were planning our first ski trip to Japan, my husband demanded the best fit for purpose ski to enhance his experience.
Toby spent countless hours researching and what he discovered was that there is only a handful of mass-produced ski manufacturers, that are owned by an even smaller number of larger corporations. The skis on offer were not made with the skier in mind. He did discover that there was a growing number of independent artisan handmade skis available however, they were impossible to deal with (as they prefer to spend their time making skis & testing them on the slopes than answering customer queries from Australia - "does Australia even have snow??") and that the shipping was prohibitive. It was just all too hard.
After years of research, countless hours of late night/early morning skype calls to suppliers and negotiating with shipping companies to pick up skis from the smallest, most remote towns* from various parts of the world; Blackbird Bespoke Ski Co. was born.
Blackbird Bespoke Ski Co. is our business, we sell handmade skis sourced from artisan producers that are passionate about skiing. We have a number of different brands that all have their own personalities with skis that are fit for various purposes.
I am also excited that we have a brand that is totally run by bad ass women making women-specific skis - Coalition Snow.
We have had fun testing a number of the different skis both in Australia last year and earlier this year in Japan. I was surprised at the difference that the skis made to my skiing. They felt lighter and more like they were just a part of me. Instead of wrestling with the skis, the Sego Ski Co. Up Pro and my custom made Blackbird Bespoke Ski Co. skis just felt an extension of me.
Please enjoy our site and take a look around. - K
*One of our suppliers happens to be located in 'that place' in Idaho... You know the one.