Breckenridge resident starts The Grasshopper’s Mermaid clothing line promoting sustainable fashion
April 15, 2017
As a girl, Rose Schneider was taught to have a healthy respect for the National Park Service by her grandfather, who was a game warden in Wisconsin. Growing up, her grandpa would take her fishing and camping.
Once she got older, Schneider began traveling to do races in National Parks around the country, realizing that travel was something she loved.
"That's the one thing I want to do in life is travel," she said. "The more you travel, the more you understand and have a better appreciation for the world."
Schneider was living in Dublin when her grandfather got sick. She left behind her life abroad, including a fiancé to come home to take care of him. When he died, Schneider took to the roads, traveling around the country for a month to find a new home. She landed in Breckenridge, and has been here for the last three years.
Traveling is second nature to Schneider, who spent a month and a half last summer driving around Alaska with her boyfriend Billy Sulicz. The pair hiked throughout the state and made a pit stop at the Arctic Circle.
Schneider avoids hotels when she travels, opting instead for camping in the woods, leaving the rest of the world far behind. Unfortunately, that's become harder and harder to do.
"It's really devastating when we go to a place where there's no people, you won't see people for hundreds of miles, you're so out there, and you're still finding crap from people," Schneider said. "It's really disappointing when you go to places that are so magical, they seem virtually untouched and then you go snorkeling and the tide's turning up plastic cups and garbage."
Her frustration with the way the environment is treated, paired with a desire to get out of bartending in Breckenridge led to an idea for her own business — a sustainable clothing line that reflects nature.
Once the idea had solidified, Schneider began reaching out to the National Park Service. After a chain of emails, she was eventually put into touch with the Western National Parks Association who said they would be interested in working with her once the product came together.
"None of the parks seem to have anything geared toward my generation," she said. "We are the loudest generation, we are the ones who can make a difference."
It was a start, and Schneider immediately began reaching out to artists to put together designs for her clothing line. She already has four different designs, some from Alaskan artist Hannah Voley and from Sydney-based artist Aidan Howes. The logo for her line, The Grasshopper's Mermaid, was put together by Howes.
Schneider has already reached out to a company in Boulder called Onno, which makes bamboo hemp and organic T-shirts. She said she wanted to make sure the company was 100 percent sustainable, keeping with the original purpose of her idea.
"If you cheat that, the company's not going to be a real company and I wouldn't be proud to stand by it," she said. "I don't want to put my money into something and promote something that's not going to take away what humans are doing and making it worse just 'cause it's cheaper."
She's waiting to produce shirts until she has a couple more artists and designs to help diversify the product. Schneider said she's looking for designs that follow her company's motto: "You can change the world — be brave, be proud, be you."
She's hoping that once there are enough designs she can begin working with local stores in Breckenridge to sell the shirts, a process she's already started. Schneider used her network to hang fliers about the new company in Breckenridge, Denver, Wisconsin and on the East Coast. Howes is hoping to also push the shirts in Sydney. The Western National Park Association also has a store in Los Angeles if the organization decides to carry the product.
"That's such a solid start," she said.
Once the company starts selling shirts, Schneider plans on donating parts of her proceeds to the National Parks Service.
Keeping an artistic and individual vibe is also important for Grasshopper's Mermaid. Pieces of art are scattered around her house in Breck, mementos from her travels around the world. She said that she tries to support local art wherever she is. One of the inspirations for Grasshopper's Mermaid was from a man she met in Honduras who teaches people to make art collected from ocean debris.
"He was making awesome, beautiful art, out of trash," she said.
Schneider said that the ocean is where her heart is, which is where part of the brand name came from — her favorite mythical creature, the mermaid. She added that grasshoppers in Native American animal totems symbolize taking a leap of faith, something that resonates with her.
Schneider said that she tends to jump into projects full heartedly, in the hopes of coming through in the end. An example was the time she registered for a half Iron Man, without knowing how to swim. For her new business idea, the principle is the same.
"That's how I do things. I put myself in a place where I have to do it, and I can't fail," she said.
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