My Background – April Femrite

21 09 2008

This post is intended to give you a little background about me, April, the circus leader behind Naturally Bamboo.

Many people ask me how a mom from Mankato, MN decided to start up her own bamboo clothing company.  I’m sure it does seem a bit strange since for one thing I don’t even know how to sew and the bamboo used for apparel is not grown anywhere near my house.  I guess the one thing I have going for me is that majoring in psychology and counseling sure helped out with research skills!

So here it goes….
My background is in education and counseling.  I have a B.S. from MSU-Mankato and an M.A. from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota.  I do plan on going back to school someday and getting my PhD – probably related to social and environmental business.

After grad school, Jason and I moved back to Mankato and I worked at the university for a few years before becoming a career counselor at St. Olaf College in Northfield.  My time at St. Olaf inspired me to do something great with my life.  I worked with students who where doing really amazing things – from helping African women start their own small businesses to operating a student-run garden that supplies the cafeteria with all locally grown vegetables.  The campus also derives 1/3 of their energy from an on-site wind turbine.  St. Olaf taught me the meaning of “Sustainability”.

After my second son was born, I decided to stay home for a year to both enjoy our time together and to reflect upon what my next journey was going to be.  I come from a family of entrepreneurs so naturally I looked into business options but nothing struck a chord until one day my oldest brother came over for dinner and handed me an article about bamboo.  It was called “Bamboo Nation” and talked about bamboo being the new eco-textile of the 21st century.  Once I read about all the benefits to using bamboo instead of cotton, nylon, polyester, etc., I was hooked. 

I spent the next few months researching bamboo fiber, fabric, sewing manufacturers – I learned everything I possibly could about starting my own bamboo clothing line.  Last year we launched with our first collection made in a fair labor facility in China.  I am so happy to have developed a new partnership with a women’s sewing cooperative in northern Minnesota who will now be making all future Naturally Bamboo lines.

Now for the fun stuff – a list of my favorites:

Outdoor activities:  kayaking, sand volleyball, hiking, tennis
Movie:  “Into the Wild” was a very emotional movie for me
Book:  I am so out of touch with reading for pleasure – I usually read business and trade publications.  Please let me know if there is something that I must read before I die.
Favorite Prince song: Little Red Corvette
(have to give tribute to the MN man in purple)
Dream concert:  Jack Johnson in Hawaii


Bittersweet End to Summer

8 09 2008

We spent labor day weekend up at our families’ cabins on Leech Lake in northern Minnesota.  It was a perfect end to summer – boating, playing in the sand, grilling, and kayaking.  We bought a 12 foot Perception Sundance this summer and I absolutely love it.  It is a perfect first kayak for us – not tippy,easy to maneuver, and  has plenty of legroom and storage.  I am just hoping that we get some more rain here in Mankato (where I live) so I can still get in some fall kayaking.  Right now the area rivers are extremely low.  I am already excited to get back at it in the spring so I can start training for the Two Harbors Kayak Festival (  I think I’ll start with the Betty’s Pies 5 mile race (it’s worth it just for the slice of pie you get at the end).aprilkayak4