July 15, 2020

How We Got Here - The Grasshopper Goods Story

By Karen Tardrew
How We Got Here - The Grasshopper Goods Story

How does a professor and world traveler end up with a mobile boutique and brick and mortar location in Stoughton, Wisconsin? 

It’s a long story, but one worth hearing if you’ll stick around for it.

I have been in education for my entire career, first working with special education students in underserved communities, and later, earning my Educational Doctorate in Instructional and Educational Leadership. Today, I’m a tenured associate professor at National-Louis University, and I serve as past president and board member of the International Visual Literacy Association and Director of Learning Sciences, where we are urgently supporting teachers during this time. 

So, what does this have to do with Grasshopper Goods?

Like so many individuals, I had another dream, one that had been lingering in my mind for years. Though education was, and remains, my passion, I had always thought about what it would be like to start my own boutique, a place that reflected my worldview and supported creatives in my community. 

My family encouraged me to take the leap, but the idea lived as a “someday” vision in my head. That is, until I traveled to the Caribbean for a celebratory vacation.

I’m a big believer in signs from the universe. When a grasshopper landed on the windshield of our taxi from the airport and held on throughout the ride, and the driver told us it meant good luck, great beginnings, and great fortune, it piqued my interest. Then, when we saw another grasshopper as we prepared to head home, I saw the meaning. The universe was telling me to finally make that jump and pursue the dream that I’d been holding onto for so long.

The plans for opening a boutique percolated in my mind for a few more years, as I continued to teach and work with other educators. In conversations with my brother, we came up with the idea to create a mobile boutique, essentially an elevated version of the laidback concept of selling beautiful goods out of a vehicle. My brother purchased a ‘57 Chevy school bus from Wyoming, and, when it arrived, we were greeted by a little grasshopper inside. We haven’t looked back.

Since then, Grasshopper Goods has grown from a mobile boutique housed in Vinny, our truck, to include a brick and mortar location on Main Street in Stoughton and an online shop.

The best part -  this side hustle turned full-fledged business seamlessly overlaps with my “other” professional life and passions. We offer a discount for educators and continuously find opportunities to collaborate with our community members to support the dreams of others. 

Through it all, Grasshopper Goods has become more than just a boutique, more than I could have ever imagined when I followed the guidance of that little grasshopper in the Caribbean and decided to go after my goals. We’ve connected with countless individuals, listened to their stories, made an impact on others in ways that I couldn’t have thought possible. 

What’s next for us? Who’s to say? What we do know is that we’ll always stay true to our purpose. To encourage others. To seek adventure. To support the community that we are proud to be  a part of. To push the envelope. To be more than a boutique. I hope that you’ll join us on that journey.