The Montana Robe Company
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Stories

Montana company making local luxury handmade robes. We love robes, but as we grow our company we look forward to sharing exciting milestones and developments along the way… in addition to our (and your) stories, testimonials and encounters.

Sustainability Overhaul - Part 2

We’ve made great strides in overhauling our processes to become more sustainable, but I’ve got a couple of giant updates to share! I’m beyond excited that these have come to fruition and sincerely proud of the progress we’ve made.

  1. Moral Fiber Collaboration: We’ve partnered with an amazing startup in Los Angeles to recycle our polyester cut scraps and end-of-life robe linings. The recycling of polyester fabric is revolutionary - as recycling this type of plastic hasn’t historically been an option. We’re one of only a handful of companies doing this, but from now all, all polyester scraps will be recycled as well!

  2. Local Composting Service: We’ve setup a weekly pickup to snag our cotton and organic fiber scraps. These cut scraps and end-of-life robe scraps can be chopped up and composted!

  3. Recycling Overhaul: Until recently we’ve depended on our local recycling service. Sadly, we’ve come to understand the full process of recycling and with the recent changes in Chinese recycling costs we’ve kicked our pickup service and will be doing our own recycling to hold ourselves accountable with what kinds of products/packaging we’re BUYING. By handling each item that gets recycled or trashed we’ll know what products/packaging we should avoid in the future. It’s sad to see all the plastic waste, and we’ll look forward to collaborating further in this department.

  4. Testing out Sustainable Fibers: Over the past couple of weeks we’ve been dabbling in some organic cotton, bamboo, wool and hemp. They’re pretty amazing fibers and we’ll be stoked to offer these here shortly. These robes will be designed to be 100% compostible at the end of their usefulness - by either us, or you.

  5. Tree Planting: To balance out carbon emissions used in shipping, we’re going to be planting trees. Our first Aspen tree is scheduled to be planted here in 2 weeks!

The pursuit of “zero waste” will be a long road yet, but we’re super proud of our progress. Operating a business that enhances the world around us is pretty cool, and we want to do more. Thank you for all the kind words of support and encouragement!

Sustainability Overhaul - Part 1

If this picture looks overwhelming - it’s because it truly is. With the 12 Warriors & Quiet Waters robes well underway we’re quickly learning what we can do to make things better/faster/more efficiently…. and what not to do. These robes have been a great testing ground on re-configuring the behind-the-scenes processes to make them more “sustainable”. Although much of this has been in the background to what the final robes will show, I’m super excited to share the accomplishments!

  1. Design overhaul - redesigning parts of the robes that were annoying and tedious for us to facilitate. By re-organizing patterns, processes and cutting layouts we’ve mitigated these problems entirely making the robes stronger, more durable and more naturally beautiful.

  2. Cutting Process Overhaul - Prior to these past couple of months, robes were cut one at a time. Now, we’re cutting out multiple robes at the same time using much faster, more accurate tools. Amazing! Oh - and a cutting table and motorized cutter have come into the mix to alleviate on-floor cutting. HOORAY!

  3. Integration of “Batching” techniques through production - Thanks to the Warriors & Quiet Waters Robes we’ve been table to test out batching through production. Although sewing 12 robes at the same time is a bit overwhelming, bringing 4-6 robes through the process at a time make things go MUCH faster and more accurately…. without confusing parts.

  4. Compost service for organic cut scraps - We have setup a composting service who will be taking our cotton, hemp, bamboo and linen scraps weekly. We’ll shred our cut scraps (much fewer since our cutting process overhaul), and they’ll snag them weekly. It would be amazing to do the same with our Polyester Cut scraps, but we’ll leave that development to Part 2.

  5. Review of packaging & shipping materials - We love our boxes and black satin ribbons; although knowing that many of these ribbons get tossed after opening and left at a land-fill doesn’t feel quite so awesome. Over the next few months, we’ll be testing out burlap, twill, ticking tape ribbons as a better substitute.

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be expanding our scope out from mostly internal-sewing-room adjustments to investigating our own supply, disposal and recycle chains. Additionally, we’ll start looking into our carbon footprint, microfiber footprint and sustainable energy suppliers. One day at a time, one tweak at a time, we’ll become both more aware of our consumption - and more able to combat it.

Why go to all this fuss?

I’ve been asked this a couple of times and am so proud to answer. I believe companies have a unique opportunity to care - about their people, their products, their customers, the environment, and the community. Many businesses choose not to do this (it does bring costs and responsibility), but I’m not scared. I strongly believe we can make amazing robes for you and allow everybody to win .

Thank you as always for your ongoing support. We love you guys! Have other ideas for things we can do better? Feel free to drop them in the comments below, or drop me a note a jenny.thuen@montanarobes.com

Holding Ourselves Accountable

In a world of low-cost fabrics, garments and labor sources we are dissapointed, saddened and disheartened by all of the environmental and social abuse. Looking around, I see countless companies exploiting environmental resources, labor pools and business processes favoring short-term payoffs. The challenge is real - I empathize with these companies over profitability metrics, making ends meet and needing to cut costs somewhere. But I don’t believe as an industry we’re doing the BEST that we can possibly do.

That’s why we, as the Montana Robe Company, want to make a commitment to you - our customers, to DO BETTER. Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been busy changing fabric suppliers, experimenting with more sustainable fibers like hemp and organic cotton, and reviewing our own fabric and paper waste to find better ways to mitigate negative impacts. Additionally, we’ve been mapping our our growth plans to ensure our expansion involves ethical business practices, living wages, environmental awareness in our outputs and a plan to recycle and compost used scraps and end-of-life robes. As we revisit our design, pattern and sample process I look forward to utilizing many of the burgoning new tools out there to make better, cleaner robes - starting with a couple of robes in our upcoming summer line.

Despite this dust storm, we’ve never been more proud. Hand-making robes using local labor, sustainable fibers, recycled packaging and ethical and transparent dealings is pretty empowering and inspiring. The more we clean up our processes, reduce our waste and be conscious of how much we consumer in resources - the more lean, flexible and determined we get to keep pushing forward. Although we’re a small company now… what if maybe, just maybe, we could lead the difference in the textile industry - right next to Patagonia, Eileen Fisher and other innovators. What if we could use our own purchasing power to incentivize fabric suppliers to adhere to ethical practices? What if, we could make the world a better place through the humble act of making and sharing robes? What if, we as a business held ourselves accountable to the outcome of our actions?

These statements bear tremendous task and hard work, but we believe in their foundation.

In the months and years ahead, I look forward to using this blog as an opportunity for us to share with you how we’ve continued to improve - hold ourselves accountable and make even better products as a result. As we partner with suppliers to try alternative fibers, fleeces and styles we welcome your feedback, ideas and encouragement. Have ideas for how we can do better? We welcome your thoughts and feedback to jenny.thuen@montanarobes.com.

Together, we can make a difference. Today is when we start. Who knows what tomorrow will bring, but whatever it is - we’ll be proud of the collaborative and ethical result because we’ll KNOW we did our best.

Jennifer Thuen
Thankful

In the past couple of months, I’ve been overwhelmed by the support I’ve gotten from robes. From friends, family and new customers I feel extremely fortunate to be able to make something that people love, sincerely enjoy and simply make the world a better place. Additionally, I love the special requests, custom decorations and ideas that seem to follow this wonderful flow of conversation. Over the past couple of months, we’ve filled orders asking for custom fit, colors and sizing in addition to tossing sincere notes into cards, and even a matching bandanna for a deserving pup. I love it. And I love you guys. Thank you for your continued support, feedback and suggestions as we build out this boutique shop into a small business. Thanks to YOU, we can robe warriors staying at the Warriors & Quiet Waters ranch. Thanks to YOU we can donate another 6 robes to non-profits around Bozeman such as Thrive and the Gallatin Ice Foundation. Thanks to YOU we can tinker with new robes, designs and uses. Thanks to YOU, the Montana Robe Company legacy grows.

Jennifer Thuen
Sponsor a Robe for Warriors & Quiet Waters

We’re donating robes to the Warriors & Quiet Waters Foundation!

I’m excited to announce that we’re going to be donating robes to the Warriors & Quiet Waters ranch this year to outfit both their ranch house (where post 9-11 combat warriors & spouses stay when they come through on fly fishing trips) and in their barn (where volunteers sleep when they’re not volunteering). For these 12 robes, the Montana Robe Company will be donating our time and love to sew these robes (about 72 hours total)… and are looking for generous sponsors to cover the $100 material costs for each of these robes.

What will these robes look like? Well, we’ll likely use a black and white plaid (incorporating their colors) and the Big Sky Robe design. If we raise enough money, we’ll incorporate a WQW patch or embroidered chest pocket on these robes to make them particularly meaningful.

To sponsor a robe, please either use the button below to facilitate an online transaction, or send a check to the Montana Robe Company directly (I’ll provide the address if you email me at jenny.thuen@montanarobes.com). Once you sponsor a robe for $100, we’ll send you a Donation In Kind receipt from Warriors & Quiet Waters as a tax-deductible 501-C3 non-profit. Want to be recognized for your donation? We’ll include your desired name on the label pinned to each of these robes when displayed in the various guest rooms.

Sponsor a Robe
Jennifer Thuen
How These Robes Came To Be

To share our story for how these robes came to be, let’s journey back to December 2012 as we were living in Fort Bragg, NC, expecting our son’s arrival, and needing to make thoughtful Christmas gifts for our soon-to-be Grandparents. Although we were far from the rugged Montana winters we adore, I designed and made these robes for Grandparents using the same minky fleece flannel used in our son’s baby blankets. Pairing the green/blue black-watch plaid with a red minky fleece lining, these robes were designed to be both comfortable for them, and an easy addition to grand-baby time.

After distributing these robes, the feedback was super popular (as with many handmade gifts), but these were different. People didn’t just wear them once or twice out of courtesy or memory…. they wore them everyday religiously. These robes weren’t just a novelty, they were quickly integrated into part of daily routines used almost all year round (but most in the fall/spring/winter). This was great. As someone who put time, thought, attention and love into the construction of each of these 6 robes, it’s wonderful to see the value of your work appreciated. A win! But it didn’t stop there.

Fast forward 5 years later. In the mayhem of kids (2 kids 13 months apart), my intention to make a robe for myself quickly went to the “someday” pile. Instead, whenever I would wake up earlier than my husband (which was infrequent at best), I would steal his robe and savor the warmth and coziness. Then, finally as Watson entered Kindergarten this year I finally took the time to make a robe for myself. My husband was elated!

What a paradigm shift. Mornings that can be warm? You don’t have to lament getting out of bed into cold clothes? Comfortable morning and evening clothes that can go over whatever you’re wearing, or cover nothing but skin? These were all revolutionary realizations from someone who has a long history of being perpetually cold.

Obviously, I love my robe. A black and white check Big Sky Robe made out of sample fabric, this robe gets used for at least 4 hours every day. Reworking my own routines, closet and lifestyle it became clear why Grandparents were so pumped about these robes! But then I looked around at our grandparents now - all still wearing their robes daily after 6 years of washes, daily use and abuse - still loving them. These robes weren’t just amazing out of the box with their uber soft minky fleece and flannel, but they were still soft, warm and loved equally 6 years in. If these robes can make us so happy… what about everyone else? I couldn’t be alone on this chilly front.

So, I started the Montana Robe Company to allow others to share in these amazing revelations. Add in some extra touches, lessons learned, collaboration opportunities with amazing non-profits and people in the Montana area and we’re in business making and selling amazingly luxurious robes that will stand the test of time, kids, life and winters.

But like everything, these stories start somewhere. For new recipients of robes, what were your impressions and thoughts? Where did your robe story begin? Reply to this post to share your comments!

Jennifer Thuen
There are robes, and there are Robes. These are the latter.

Throughout the flurry of Christmas orders this year, one thing has become incredibly obvious. We don’t do fast fashion. We don’t “whip things together”, mass produce or drop ship. Although our process in craftsmanship has gotten faster (thanks to investment in better equipment and arrangement), each robe we make is given exclusive attention.

And we like it that way.

In fact, that’s what makes our robes amazing. A gift from us, filled with handmade grandeur, love and comfort that emulates our passion and dedication with each touch. From the first second of you touching your new robe, feeling its weight around your shoulders and warmth on your skin to the 100th wash - we are determined to make sure the Robe Hugs never wane.

Jennifer Thuen
Savor Today - Right now, right here. Go.

The world is full of hardship - even in developed countries. Although we may have our basic needs met for the time being… there’s plenty of other stressers that weigh into our lives. For many of us, as the year comes to a close, we’ve encountered a variety of big challenges that have sculpted our own well-being. For me most recently, was the death of our 8-year old great dane Lena. My friend, confidant and soul mate through Adams’ deployments, little kids and 8 total different moves… Lena was my girl. And as of Thanksgiving when she passed away suddenly, we’ve been forced into realizing a bit more of our own reality.

Lena was a great friend for 8 years. But if we live to be 90 (a pretty good goal I think), then we really only have 7 Lena-life-spans left. Until we die. Gone. Game over. Done. Thanks for playing.

It’s a morose thought, and nobody likes to think about their own (or worse their spouses’ or kids’) mortality, but turns out - unless your a cyborg internalizing this post, you’re human. And that’s just what happens.

For me - it’s OK. I know life is finite and we need to enjoy each day - in whatever joy, frustration or challenge it brings knowing that TODAY will never be back. Today will never happen again, and the situations, conversations, engagements and challenges you have today… will never be repeated.

So enjoy today. In whatever “fashion” it brings. Enjoy today because you’re here, reading this post and alive. Be alive, be comfortable and enjoy today as you have it.

If that involves a Montana Robe - outstanding. But enjoy today regardless. Thank you for all of my wonderful supporters who help me to do this - remembering what’s important, and prioritizing this over all else. Thank you!

Jennifer Thuen
Love at First Touch

We know there’s a million gift options for your loved ones. Likely many that are cheaper, faster and on super flash but-it-now-or-else sale. But we hope you’ll consider these robes as an incredible alternative. Whether it’s investing in your loved ones’ happiness, just as they’ve invested in yours over the years… or resetting gifting expectations to give less “stuff” and give more “value” in happiness and long-term health and well-being, the Montana Robe Company is the dawning of a new era.

What is this new era? One built on love, community support and the ability of businesses to operate transparently, sustainably, generously and simply offering amazing handmade products, to amazing people who appreciate them. One built on “investments” in items that will be here - quality guaranteed - for the next 10 years, and built on the genuine desire for your loved ones to find the most basic moments of happiness in a world of distractions.

Because that’s the thing - these robes don’t MAKE happiness (nothing does), but they sure enable you to maximize the moments and time that does. Giving you the opportunity to have another cup of coffee, a glass of whiskey or enjoy a quiet morning with a book. Go ahead and snuggle on the couch with sleepy kids, tell stories and read books with eager listeners. Go ahead - enjoy a furry friend while you watch a movie, catch a football game or watch the wildlife cross your property. Make the most of your YOU time - knowing you won’t always have it. Better yet, give the gift to let your loved one make that wonderful choice… every day with added comfort and warmth. Let them make the most of their personal time - enjoying every minute as we have it, when we have it.

We are excited and ready for your orders this year, and geared up to handle it all. With contingency plan upon contingency plan we welcome your orders as outstanding opportunities to make the world better - not just by giving your loved one the ultimate Christmas gift, but by helping our nonprofits and community in the process. We’re ready to make the world a better place… one robe & blanket at a time… are you?

Jennifer Thuen
Snow on the Evergreens

There’s something about evergreens and snow that makes mountain winters so splendid. The light beautiful powder that adorns these big stately trees somehow encompasses the greatness of mountain culture. Perhaps its the strength and unwavering resiliency of these evergreen trees that have grown to withstand the test of time and winter weather. Alternatively, perhaps it’s the light, elegant, effortless touch of the snowflakes falling in droves around the Montana features. Or, best of all, perhaps its the delicate contrast of these two acting as a yin and yang of mountain life?

But couldn’t the beauty of this contrast also be seen in the mountain lifestyle itself? Mountain life does often demand extra resiliency, toughness and strength… but just because you’re frequently battling the elements doesn’t mean that everything has to be rough. In fact, I would argue that you appreciate these off-moments of warmth, comfort and contentment more as a result. This is where our robes can help. As you come from your ski trips, outdoor adventures, long drives on windy roads, and outdoor activities with family… there is incredible beauty in the enjoyment of mountain leisure. That’s why our robes are warm, comfy, soft and a leisure necessity after outdoor adventures. Mountain downtime has never felt so good!

Jennifer Thuen
Making Mornings Better

As a functioning human in 2018, there’s a lot you don’t control. Whether you’re aware of it or not, much of what captures your attention isn’t necessarily at your conscious choosing. Kids will demand your attention… as will bosses, spouses, friends and family. It’s just part of our society. So for as much as you can’t really control this… what you can control… is what you do in those moments when you actually do control your attention.

For me, it’s stumbling out of bed into a cold, dark room to find my mountain robe. Soft, warm, comfortable and reassuring this robe helps me make my way downstairs to coffee and a fireplace where I know peacefulness and solace await. With sleepy dogs curled up around the fire, a silent husband engrossed in research and schoolwork and a sleepy cat looking for a warm lap to visit I navigate my way to the coffee pot and then the couch.

Settling into the couch, MY time starts. Those moments before conversation, before kids, before responsibility and before activity make my day. This is where I mentally prepare for the mayhem that’s about to break loose, and ready my stance and mental to-do list. This is where Adam and I actually talk - start and finish conversations without perpetual interruptions and distractions. This is our opportunity to center ourselves… and being covered in a warm, soft, loving robe makes these moments all the better.

These are the moments of reflection, meditation and reinforcement. These are the moments that I mentally set myself up for the day and week ahead. These are the moments I strategize, postulate, imagine and dream - and all the more wearing this robe. No chills, no itches, no distractions - just pure leisure.

Then life starts. Dogs wake, kids tumble out of bed, husbands rally and caffeine sets in. The day is moving and I’m actually ready to run with it.

When are your moments of “control”? How does your Mountain Robe make these moments even better?

Jennifer Thuen