One of the best things about this blog is getting an opportunity to check out new gear, new shops and all the great ideas that people have. Today I am so pleased to have had a chance to interview Dawn of Grasshaven Outdoor. An idea brought into fruitation just last summer (see more details below), Dawn and some other moms have been working hard to put together a place for functional, stylish outdoor gear to meet. They target the mom (or dad) that just doesn’t like to get dirty and rough it. We’re not talking Glamping here, but rather those looking to spruce up the campsite a bit and have the ease that every mom yearns for in gear and family fun. Outside Style. Inside Comfort.
Even more impressive, the Grasshaven site has numerous tips and tricks, lists for packing, recipes, game ides and a blog for even more inspiration. They truly are focused on getting families outside (not just the gear to do it.)
After numerous conversations and emails back in forth, I fell in love with their idea enough to bring them on as a supporter of this blog (and believe me, I am picky about that!) Check out their advertisement on the sidebar of the blog under “sponsors”.
I know this post is a little lengthy, but I think it really captures with Grasshaven is all about (and is absolutely worth reading through to the end.) In fact, we think it is so worth it that we have set up a giveaway of one of Dawn’s favorite outdoor games (sold at Grasshaven, of course) to bring a little more fun to the campsite. So be sure to read all the way through and enter to win! As always, please feel free to leave Dawn and all the Grasshaven crew a little love in the comments – your feedback is always greatly appreciated!
Enough from me – here’s Dawn!
1.Tell me where Grass Haven started and why – what makes you stand out in the outdoor industry?
I was working at a big medical device company and had a big job (yup you caught me, I’m an “outsider ” to the outdoor industry . I was traveling all over the world (sounds glamorous but it’s definitely not) and always away from my family. As an example, when I was pregnant with my daughter, she traveled over 60k miles and visited 7 countries and 14 cities in my belly. Anyway, last summer, we were getting ready to go camping. I love to camp, entertain and spend time with my family. I started looking for camping gear that was both functional and looked great. I didn’t want to eat on orange plastic REI plates or sleep in yellow and blue tents. I didn’t want to go “glamping” but I did want my campsite to be both functional and stylish. One night, I woke up and had the life changing epiphany: I figured other families might be experiencing the same challenges we were (and I lived in Boulder “camping-mecca” CO – around the corner from Kelty and Golite headquarters). I wanted one spot that I could find stylish, functional and family oriented camping equipment We weren’t going 5 miles in and doing a fourteener and I have no aspirations to conquer Anapurna. REI and Cabellas products were functional but not so stylish. So I quit my big corporate job and left the next week for Summer OR 2012. Grasshaven was born shortly thereafter. We kind of strive to be the pottery barn of camping – functional, stylish and comfortable.
What makes us different: we are a “middle America” family camping equipment company. We focus on car, RV and backyard camping. We’re not overly technical or super light weight. We do not focus on backpacking or extreme camping (there are lots of brands that do that: Northface, Golite, Marmot etc). We focus on providing easy to use hardgoods, creating cooking and dining experiences more like your home and providing games and activities to have fun in the outdoors. All oriented to get the family (including reluctant moms and dads) unplugged and outdoors. Essentially recreating the home outdoors.
2. If you we’re going to name your top 5 picks in the shop, what would they be?
Oh that’s a hard one. I know I’m biased but I think we have some super cool stuff (and we are expanding all the time as we find cool new stuff). By the way, 2 ladies can set up an entire grasshaven campsite in <15 minutes (that includes: tent, fully stocked kitchen, picnic table with tablescape; chairs; etc…)
- Our tents: They come sized 1 – 6 person; the poles are completely integrated into the tent and have a lifetime warranty; They set up and come down in <60 seconds; There are no stuff sacks (the sacks are more like a duffle bag with compression straps) making it easy to put them away; And, we think they look nice when set up with our other campsite furniture.
- Our GH Camp Kitchen: It folds up to the size of a large suitcase but opens to create 9 sqft of countertop space; it includes a sink, spot for the stove, storage for utensils, spice rack, utensil hanging rack, paper towel holder and trash bag; everything packs into it and it wheels into and out of the campsite for easy set up and tear down.
- Our cooking gadgets: too many to list everyone specifically but they are all hand selected to be multi-functional; collapsible or both. Our collapsible salad spinner is a salad spinner, colander and serving bowl in one (and it collapses to 1/3 its original size for storage) as an example. Whisks and cheese graters open and close for storage. We have several “leatherman” type tools that open up for use and collapse back afterwards. And things like our pot clip spoon holders and lid holders save precious countertop space when cooking outdoors. We think cooking outdoors can be as gourmet as cooking indoors so we try to find great products that support this idea.
- Our dinnerware collections: At this point we have 5 collections assembled (and some of our more exciting ones in the works). We love unexpected takes on traditional pieces (check out our vintage collection and our cristalles collections). We look for melamine, enamelware, polyacrylic and bamboo products that are both functional and super stylish.
- Our games and activities: In general, there are great finds here. From boomerangs to quoits to the game of goose, there are new takes on having fun outdoors. But if I had to choose one, I’d say the glow in the dark bocce balls. They’re solid resin and super tough. We like them because when all the marshmallows (on super stylish GH marshmallow roasters) are roasted and the kids are bored at night, it gives them something to do!
3. Is your stuff original or more of a place for all the unique and functional to meet?
Today, we are more of the place where really interesting products meet. We carefully find, aggregate and package great products together into collections. We strive for super functional products, that look great and make camping and the outdoors comfortable and easy. We want to simplify the camping gear experience for families. As we evolve, we will add more GH customized products under our own design. (Really it’s very similar to what Pottery Barn or William Sonoma does on the housewares side). We do also focus on sourcing about 20% of our products from smaller, more local manufacturers or small artisans. (check out our marshmallow roasters and coming soon, our GH custom, Incognito Flamingos – fun artisan flamingos).
4. Do you plan on GH being a physical shop too or just online?
Right now we are focused on growing our online presence and brand so we can be accessed by families challenged with finding great camping equipment and products. We are also working on our catalog (similar to crate and barrel or pottery barn catalogs today). Targeting late spring / early summer for that launch.
5. Can you tell me a little about you and your family?
Like I indicated above, I’m a mom, wife and entrepreneur. I have an amazing husband of 11 years (who let me quit my job to start Grasshaven). We have two wonderful children: a 6 year old son named Brason and a 17 month old daughter named Rowen. I grew up in Fort Worth Texas (but lived in MN for 7 years after marrying my husband). Funny facts about me: I worked on the ambulance in Fort Worth for many years (a long time ago) and I co-founded a mounted (horse) paramedic team. We now live in Boulder, Colorado which is also where Grasshaven is based. We have an amazing team made up of “moms and wives” that are a part of the Grasshaven family and help keep us on track. And if you ask Helen, she’ll tell you sometimes I’m crazy and I grind my own flour
6. Top camping tip for a mom/dad who is just overwhelmed enough as it is with life, much less packing everyone up and getting outside camping?
As crazy and simple as it is, just take the chance, jump in and get outdoors (you won’t be that far away from civilization if needed). Even for one night (and even if it’s just a trial in the backyard or neighborhood), just get out. Unplug and spend time together as a family. Laugh about it and even if things aren’t perfect, memories will be made. That’s what it’s about.
7. Anything else you want to tell me?
We really want moms to get outdoors. Generally, if moms are on board, it has a ripple effect to also get the kids outdoors. We’ve done quite a bit of research and so many moms don’t want to go camping because they perceive its dirty, hard, uncomfortable (and any other negative acronym you can think of). We want to change that perception, because it’s not family camping if we’re missing part of the family. At Grasshaven we say we’re mom inclusive but not dad exclusive (we want to provide comfort and style for mom but not over the top glamping that excludes dad). In addition, everything also has to be super functional too!
Win a Little Something Something from Grasshaven
Dawn and I talked at length as to what would be a great giveaway item for this post. We decided that families getting out and having fun was number one priority. And so, we bring you the opportunity to win Quiots. Yep, I am new to it too. A traditional game packed up in a functional size, Quiots is great for all ages.
As usual, please use the Rafflecopter Widget below to enter to win. Sorry, this giveaway open to the US only. Have questions? Please don’t hesitate to contact me at mountainmamatales(at)gmail(dot)com so I can help! Good luck!
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