Happy 1st Birthday, Aspen Fair!
Hello! My name is Sabrina, and I am the Founder of Aspen Fair. The following is an excerpt from the story of my life (mostly, the beautiful parts, but not all the beautiful parts ever, only the relevant ones to this post). As it is with every company, the history of the company begins with the history of its founder; therefore, this is a bit of my story and more of Aspen Fair’s story. But…only a snippet of that story. This one is only about how Aspen Fair ended up with its name. It’s a long story, but I’ll keep it short.
I am a child of the Himalayas; born and raised in a city built along the foothills. My parents adored the mountains, and so, I have grown up exploring the depths of those mountains on camping trips at least twice a year. I spent that time camping, hiking, climbing trees, climbing glaciers, telling horror stories around bonfires, walking across dingy and ill-kept foot bridges and then jumping on them to scare everyone else, screaming out loud to hear my voice echo among the mountains, giggling uncontrollably as I stepped into cold waterfalls and then getting scolded by mom, touching clouds with my bare hands when they came for a visit higher up in the mountains, and staring deep into the night at a sky filled with abundant of stars, creating the most insanely gorgeous view of the sky – absolutely, literally, undoubtedly...ever!
When I wasn’t on one of those camping trips, I was at home or at school or with friends. And, no matter where I was in the city where I lived, the Himalayas were always there, with me, in the backdrop. They weren't just a faded background I took for granted, oh no! They were entities I looked at often, noticed them all the time, and never forgot they were there. Looking out from my home, I knew those ridges, the drops, the rises, the peaks like the back of my hand. Mountain bumps don't normally move, but anything moved there, I would have picked up on it right away.
They were placed north of the city, so the sun never touched them - they were just a silhouette after sunset, with a glow of the city lights touching them after dark. In the mornings, before a big exam, I would sit outside where I could see the mountains and go over my study content - they just calmed me. In the summer, I’d look for long and short orange lines placed randomly on the mountains – the trees on fire.
During summer vacations, we traveled to get to camping destinations that were far, far away into the mountains. So far away that it took us days to get to them, and we had to rent four-wheel-drive vehicles to get to places that were unreachable. Some of these places were even unheard of by those living in urban centres nearby. I have witnessed some immense, unimaginable beauty, some places only known to just a handful of people.
I was truly in love with those mountains.
As I grew older, I realized it's not just the mountains; I am in love with nature. Deeply, passionately. The Himalayas started it for me.
Back in the 90s, the only entertainment available to us kids on long road trips were: listen to the music playing in the car, talk to others in the car, sleep, look out the window and count trees, count cars with specific colours or read road signs, stare at other cars and the people in them, etc. I was the quiet, introverted kid who was fascinated by all things nature; happily watching for hours the trees, the clouds, and of course, the mountains.
It was this one time somewhere in the early 90s, I was with my family on one of these camping trips in the mountains. The car was parked somewhere for a few minutes, and I decided to stay seated in the backseat, while my family left to go to a store. My head rested on the window and, as usual, I was just staring out at the sky or something, perhaps daydreaming about something or the other. It was one of those sunny days where clouds are big and fluffy, acting as sky ornaments. A soft, crisp, and steady breeze. That’s when I really, truly noticed some fully grown Poplar trees nearby. I noticed their movement - the leaves were in perfect rhythm with the breeze. Each leaf moved faster than a normal leaf on any other tree. The front and back of each leaf had a slightly different colour, and when the breeze moves them, the colours of the leaves appear to change rapidly – back and forth, between the two colours. In sunlight, they create almost a shimmering effect, and they appear to quake, or tremble...
Fast forward a few years into the future, to the tail end of the 90s, I moved to Ontario, Canada with my family.
Hello, Great Canadian Shield (or more specifically, Ontario Shield and Mixedwood Plains), land of a gazillion and more lakes and trees, and Fall season so vibrant and enchanting that, after a couple of decades, the colours still blow my mind to the very core. We, as a family, have always been keen on traveling, and we brought that trait along with us. Easily drawn to nature, we are known to travel great distances to explore it. And, over the years, there has been tons of exploration of this amazing, wonderful country. The natural regions of Canada are such that they are incredibly unique on the world stage. I have had the pleasure and the honour to visit places from coast to coast (to coast! Yes, Canadian Arctic too.), and I simply will never tire of the abundance of natural beauty Canada holds.
But, I digress...
Life is such that it wasn’t long before I forgot all about my Poplar trees back in the Himalayas and got busy with the this-that of everyday life in the city...
Fast forward a bit more.., I took a road trip to Yellowknife, NT with my parents. By then, I had already been on a handful of road and train trips across the Canada in all sorts of directions, including having driven on the Trans-Canada Highway between Toronto and Vancouver several times. So, to save time on this specific trip, we flew to Edmonton, and drove up north all the way to Yellowknife. (Side note: that was easily one of the best long nature drives ever!)
On an afternoon, somewhere way up north in Alberta, the car was parked for a few minutes, and I stayed put – in the backseat. By now, I had all the digital devices I could ask for at the time – smartphone, tablet, laptop, an active Spotify account, and a pair of great noise cancellers to go with – a dSLR camera and the line of lenses to satisfy the self-taught photographer in me wholly. Then…guess what… my head was resting on the window and, as I have always done in my most comfortable state of mind, I was just staring out at the sky or something, perhaps daydreaming about something or the other. It was one of those sunny days where clouds are big and fluffy, acting as sky ornaments. A soft, crisp, and steady breeze. That’s when they caught my eye – reaching high in the sky, I noticed the movement of their leaves instantly – the leaves were in perfect rhythm with the breeze. Each leaf moved faster than a normal leaf on any other tree. The front and back of each leaf has a slightly different colour, and when the breeze moves them the colours of the leaves appear to change colours rapidly – back and forth between the two colours. In sunlight, they create almost a shimmering effect, and they appear to quake, or tremble.
I was instantly reminded of that other afternoon in the Himalayas - after years and years - here I was, all grown up, and on the other side of the world. It seemed so known.
But, there was something different that made these trees stand out even more than the Poplar trees I knew from the Himalayas. It was their stunning white bark with a few dark-coloured knots. These trees were tall, and the leaves didn’t start until quite a way up. I suppose that's because these trees have to show off that elegant white bark with the occasional knots - and show off rightly so. The trunks appeared as if they would be completely smooth to the touch. They weren’t Poplars at all, so I reached for my phone and inserted as much information I could to describe them.
Half a second later, Google threw back “Aspen Trees” at me…
I was in love all over again.
Fast forward a few years later… I knew an entrepreneur in me existed, but she was happily dormant the entire while. Now, not only was she wide awake, but also happened to be causing a huge hullabaloo at the time. She refused to shut up at any given hour, and so a company was looking to be born. I had spent days (literally, days!) trying to come up with a suitable name. I am in no shape or form a thing-namer, so this task proved to be a hefty challenge.
I had looked at everything, listened to every word, considered symbols, meanings, in the English language, even considered all the other languages I can handle – nothing! It was getting incredibly annoying because every time I left home, I looked at everything and said random words, tried combinations – just going over random words without being able to switch it off - aargh!
I had a full-time job back then, and one evening, I returned home all worn out from my day. I threw myself on my bed with only one question, stuck on repeat in my mind, “What on earth is my company called?” Closed my eyes and took a deep breath, and out of nowhere, my mind was completely filled with the fluttering leaves, the rustling sound, and me staring at them - switching back and forth between a few sceneries I am honoured to call my memorie, but always me resting my head on the window and staring away. By now, I had been with Aspens several times in central and northern Ontario, I had also noticed that specific movement of leaves on birch trees, specifically from the window of a train while traveling around in Scandinavia. Three separate continents, similar experiences, all years apart from each other. I couldn’t help but smile. This is the moment I had been waiting for - it was meant to be. Also, it had been a while since I had last seen those trees. Life had gotten in the way, and I suddenly missed being surrounded by nature; my pure bliss, my happy place.
I almost named the company Poplar Fair, but the name didn’t sweep me off my feet and whisk me away to somewhere special in a moment. Birch Fair was also an option – again, no whisking away happened. Aspen Fair, however, generated some serious love for me – maybe because the words and their sounds have a ring to them, I don’t know. What I do know is, to this day, every time I think hard on the name, I feel pure magic. I think of pure calmness, me daydreaming while traveling through and experiencing some utterly amazing, one-of-a-kind places around the world since my childhood. Visiting those places and experiencing such extreme beauty has been nothing short of an honour - that's an understatement.
"Aspen Fair" somehow makes me specifically think of Aspen trees in the Fall season; bright yellow with leaves trembling and quaking in a crisp, cool breeze, on a sunny day. Leaves slowly and peacefully falling to the ground. Fluffy clouds acting as sky ornaments floating about while the trees make a quiet, rustling sound, the thought of which instantly washes me over with peace and calm.
Anyway, that’s how the "Aspen" part of the name came into existence. "Fair" was the easy part – my memories of aspens make me happy. Fall colours makes me happy. Carnivals are happy and filled with vibrant colours. Aspen Carnival wasn’t about to happen, so that evening, sitting in my bedroom, after days of not being able to come up with a name, I combined Aspen with synonyms of the word ‘carnival’ - and yes, a thesaurus had to come in to the rescue at this point.
A few minutes later, Aspen Fair was named...
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