Category Archives: Behind the Scenes

Why American Made?

We’d like to introduce you to Alan Svoboda. As our Lead Designer, Alan brings us the initial concepts and sketches for our new products each season. His resume includes companies like J Crew and Target, but his real passion is American-made brands. Today, he talks about why American made matters to him – and why it should to you this holiday season.

alansquareOne of my favorite things about buying American made products is the quality.  From first sight, to first touch, you can see and feel the difference immediately.   Growing up, like most, I never gave a second thought about where my garments were produced.  It wasn’t until I began shopping at thrift stores for vintage clothing that I began to take notice of the superiority American made products exude.  Here were 70 year old garments, designed to be used under very grueling circumstances, and they were still in great shape.  It was seeing these pieces of history that made me realize the importance of our American manufacturing traditions, and all the stories each one of these garments has to tell.  You see it’s not about the products keeping up with the latest “trend”; it’s about the product keeping up with our demanding lifestyles.  A piece of apparel that’s an investment, not because it cost more than something you would buy from a big-box store, but because it’s something you will wear for the rest of your life.

Here at Stormy Kromer we design apparel and accessories with you in mind.  Made like you, by people like you.  Outfitting our customers with products designed with a classic style, made from the highest quality materials, and manufactured in America by real people who care about the products they produce.  Our garments are up to the task, and now it’s up to you to write your story.  So spread the American made message this holiday season, and let’s raise the tide together.  After all, quality is the gift that keeps on giving.

Employee Profiles: Dennis ‘Mac’ McRae

Every day on the job is the best day on the job.
- Dennis ‘Mac’ McRae, Purchasing Director

MacCUOkay, I know how that sounds, but for the most part, every day here is great. I work with hardworking, dedicated people, and the company is growing, changing, expanding, and that keeps me coming back.

What do I do here? I’m responsible for sourcing and purchasing the raw goods our gear is made from: the best wools, cottons and other fabrics from all over the world. And for 34 years, I’ve been proud to help keep the team working by keeping up with the growing demands for those raw goods.

I’ve got ten Kromers of my own (my favorite of which is the waxed cotton cap), and I guess what I want to say to other Kromer fans is thank you. Thanks for helping keep a legend alive and growing. Thanks for supporting Made in the USA.

Snow Diary: November 20, 2014

frontdoorCan you believe it’s a month before the first day of winter?

While we aren’t as buried as the folks over near Buffalo, New York, the western end of the Upper Peninsula as been fairly well hit with lake effect snow in the past 10 days.

It’s not even Thanksgiving and the local schools have had 2+ snow days. This morning, the temperature is in the single digits, and we’ve already had a few subzero overnight temps.

So while the calendar tells us Winter doesn’t officially start until December 21st, we know otherwise.

One of our factory buildings, a metal building with a fairly flat roof, needs its roof shoveled during the winter. Usually once, and usually around the first of the year.

Our crew is already out there today, snow scoops in hand, making sure are building and our employees are safe. Check out the photos below. We even had a little fun with a panoramic shot.

What’s the snow situation where you live?

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Employee Profiles: Dan Pavlovich

If you wanted to know my favorite piece of Kromer gear, I couldn’t tell you. Literally.
- Dan Pavlovich, Technical Designer

DanCUSure, I really like the Brushman Vest, but truth be told, I can’t tell you about my favorite Stormy Kromer items because they haven’t come out yet.

I head up the research and development team here at Kromer, and as technical designer for all our new products, I’m not allowed to let the cat out of the bag when it comes to what’s coming out. So I’ll just say this: there are some really great things in production right now that people are really going to love.

That’s the best thing about my job—seeing patterns I’ve sketched come to life on the models, then seeing how successful they are with customers. This is a great American tradition we’re making for people, and I think everyone in the Kromer family feels a sense of accomplishment about that.

I tell you, after 27 years, I still love it here.

Employee Profiles: Cheryl Bjork

Would you like it tomorrow? Okay then, how about today?
Cheryl Bjork, Production Manager

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I started working at Stormy Kromer 11 years ago because it’s a flexible, family-friendly place to work, and anyone who shows interest and ability has an opportunity here. They have a place to grow and build their skills.

I started as an entry-level inspector—a very important job and one I was proud to do—and have since moved up to the position of production manager. That means I’m the one who makes sure we have enough of the right items in inventory to fill our orders.

And that means it’s up to me when you get your gear; my goal is to ship it the day you order it.

Stormy Stories, Volume 2

Welcome to our next Stormy Stories post. In this series we’ll celebrate the unique, rugged, down-to-earth and genuine people we’re proud to call our customers.

We found Randee the very first year we put out a call on Facebook for models, and she returned to work with us again this year. Randee reminds us a lot of the people here in Ironwood: a small-town, northern Minnesota girl who savors life and all the adventures it brings. She owns her own photography business, Made For You Photography, and when she’s not working she’s usually out shooting trap, hunting, snowmobiling or fishing with her family. Did we mention she also works part-time at a store that sells Kromer products?

randee1Here’s some more about Randee from a recent conversation we had about her connection to Stormy Kromer:

SK: How did you come to know about Stormy Kromer?

RD: As a proud fourth generation Kromer wearer, I’ve known about the caps my whole life. When I finally managed to get a cap of my own, it was the Ida Kromer Cap in Pink. I love that hat. And even though I’ve added on to my collection since then, I still wear it often.

SK: Well, since you brought it up, what’s in your Stormy Kromer collection today?

RD: Counting my most recent purchase just a week or so ago, I’ve got six caps, two pair of mittens, a coat and the new Parkland Vest. But my favorite item is the white and raspberry Petal Pusher. It gives me such easy, warm, adorable style. And while I’ve got a few friends who still think “Elmer Fudd” when I mention Kromer, I think I prove them wrong with this cap.

randee3SK: You’re definitely an outdoorsy kind of gal. What’s your most memorable outside moment?

RD: While I’ve had a lot of fabulous experiences, one of the most memorable would have to be when I shot my first deer. I’ll never forget it – I was four months pregnant with my son at the time! My husband was with me, and almost cried he was so excited for me. And of course, my Stormy Kromer was with me too.

SK: You’ve been on two different photo shoots with us now. Is there a moment during a shoot that stands out?

RD: Things got just a little crazy at the shoot this past March. The photographer, the amazing Mitch Kezar, got the idea to shoot a bunch of us from overhead while we were playing cards. To do this, he had to climb up a gazebo and then lay down on top of it, shooting down at us. He had it in his head he could get a great shot and he made it happen!

randeegroupSK: What’s your favorite Stormy Kromer story?

RD: It’s not so much a story but I love the bond you form with other Kromer wearers. When you see someone wearing a cap, you know you can walk right up to them, start a conversation, and most likely, make a new friend. This has happened to me time and time again.

SK: Our new tagline is Made Like You. What does that mean to you?

RD: It means that you are doing it right. Making things that are real, with high standards of quality and service, all the while giving American citizens jobs. Sadly, you don’t see all of those things in one place much anymore.

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Employee Profiles: Barb Wilman

I’ve made over half a million hats; I’m still here and counting.
Barb Wilman, Sewing Machine Operator

BarbCUMy job at Stormy Kromer just sort of fell in my lap. I’ve been here for over 20 years now and I’m proud of the work I do. We’re all proud to be here and happy to do what we do. For me, that’s 300-400 hats a day for the last five years on the Kromer line—I’m thankful for the God-given talent of being able to sew anything on any line. So when help is needed, I’m there!

The hat, vest or bag you’re holding right now was made right here. Made in America. That makes me proud, too. Honestly, it reminds me of childhood, when my mom sewed some of our clothes. You knew it was made with love and that it was going to last. That’s what you’re getting here, and when we say “Made like you,” we’re talking about being sturdy and long-lasting.

We are a tough breed here in Michigan’s U.P., and we’re proud to be caretakers of the Kromer legend.

Stormy Stories, Vol. 1

Welcome to the first installment in a new blog series:  Stormy Stories. In this series we’ll celebrate the unique, rugged, down-to-earth and genuine people we’re proud to call our customers.

Today it’s our pleasure to introduce Keith Collick. A native of Negaunee in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Keith may look the slightest bit familiar to you. Why? Because we’re proud to call him a Stormy Kromer model. You see, when we’re getting ready for a photo shoot, we start searching for real-life, honest-to-goodness people we can photograph. Two years ago, we found Keith through Facebook.

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Keith, who now lives just outside Minneapolis with his two kids, has modeled for us three times. He’s the Stormy type through and through — with interests ranging from cross country skiing and ice hockey to playing the guitar and banjo. Recently we sat down with him to ask a few questions about his connection to Stormy Kromer:

SK: What was your first introduction to Stormy Kromer?

KC: A few winters ago I bought an Original Stormy, and never looked back. I found Stormy Kromer after doing some internet searches about the U.P. I knew I wanted one as soon as I saw them. They just reminded me of everything back home and of growing up. I remember all the “old timers” wearing them (my great grandfather included) and knew I needed that piece of my history on my head.

SK: What made you respond to our request for models?
KC: I did it mostly because it was a chance to do something new. I normally make faces at cameras when they’re pointed in my direction. I was also excited by the prospect of doing something with a U.P. company like Stormy that’s been around for so long.

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SK: You’ve done three photo shoots for us now. What’s your most memorable moment?
KC: I guess I’d have to say the first photo shoot was the most memorable. Everything about it, from meeting the SK staff and other models to actually posing it front of a camera, on purpose.

SK: How many Stormy Kromer items do you own?
KC: I currently have two bags, one shirt, and three hats from Stormy.

SK: So, what’s your favorite?
KC: It’s probably a toss up between my Original Cap and my Sidekick Bag. My cap is on my head pretty much all day, every day during the winter and my Sidekick goes with me on a lot of walks through the woods with the kids.

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SK: How do you bring a little bit of the U.P. to Minneapolis?
KC: A few ways. Besides running around constantly in my Stormy Kromer gear, I also make pasties and cudighi pretty regularly. And have the occasional bit of Trenary Toast sent over.

SK: We recently launched a new tagline, “Made Like You.” What does that mean to you?
KC: To me it means, ready for life and what it throws at you.

Plaid Crazy

Stormy Kromer and plaid just seem to go together. Like peas and carrots. Chocolate and peanut butter. Ida and George.

And it happens to be the time of year when we ask you to help us name new plaids we’re working on for 2015. But before we get to that, we thought we’d revisit a few fabrics you helped us name a year ago.

frostThanks to Bill A. for suggesting “Frost” for our first design. This unisex plaid can be found in a host of new products, including The Original and Ida Caps with Hardware, and The Chore Coat.

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“Aurora” was a name suggested by two blog readers – Jamie A. and Mandi. Thanks to you both for this picture perfect suggestion! Aurora is shown here in The Ida Outfitter Vest, The Flat Top Cap and The Button Up Cap.

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And now, what you’ve truly been waiting for – a plaid without a name! This will be a part of our Fall 2015 collection, and hopefully, will carry a label that one of you suggests. We can’t wait to hear your ideas below.

Naming Plaids for Fall 2014

Well, Stormy Kromer fans, it’s time for another edition of naming plaids.  These posts always garner so many great responses and we love hearing your creative ideas.

So without further ado, let’s get right down to business.  As usual, we’re just showing the plaids but not revealing which products they will be used in.

You can see that these two are the same basic pattern, just in different colorways.  One with a light charcoal base, one with olive.

This one stands on its own.  Green background with pinks, purples and teals.

Well, what do you think?  Let the creativity begin!!