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10 Years?!

Sometimes you end up somewhere you never intended to be, and that's ok. 

When I entered that jar of Deliciousness in the Denver County Fair in 2012, 7.5 years after I started RedCamper, I never thought it would change the trajectory of my life in such a profound way. I never had aspirations of being a food maker. Cowboy? Yes. Architect? Yes. Photo journalist? Yes. Filmmaker? Yep. Writer? You bet. Consumer packaged goods maker? Huh? What's that? No.  Not that. Alas, sometimes the tides of changes are difficult to discern at first but they can take you to places you never imagined. 

RedCamper was originally my answer to get BACK to being creative having floated off my intended path into project management, interactive information design and directing teams of other folks to do things. My role, though quite entrepreneurial in that I got to shape departments in two different young tech startups, was ultimately spreadsheets, flowcharts and management. RedCamper was my creative flex, making quirky handbags and laptop bags, and silly greeting cards from old vintage photos. Our booth design for our first stationary trade show was straight out of a film set making class. But one thing led to the next thing, and the people around me supported me and encouraged me and pushed me and pulled me, and picked me up when I fell down. Both friends and strangers. The sole OG Blue ribbon winning Colorado Whiskey Peach turned into a dozen more flavors and sizes of which 4, and maybe soon to be 5, would win national awards. One holiday market turned into hundreds of farmers markets, and one intern turned into my first employee and best friend, who then helped me lead dozens of others in our seasonal efforts to capture the peach in it’s prime. Suddenly I was just that, a consumer packaged foods maker navigating waters so far out of my understanding it's laughable.

To try to describe the thousands of hours of questioning myself, and the suffocating isolation and anxiety and fear of failure seems irrelevant and unappreciative when I look at the hundreds of photos of friends and employees and customers and contract workers who took some time out of their lives to share in this experience with me.  In many moments they carried it, when I couldn’t, believed in it, when I didn’t. It's remarkable what the power of people can do.

Like that bowl of pitted cherries, held out by Sabrinas hands and one of my favorite images, there are bright shiny moments I remember more than others, like our first farmers market booth when we rolled in not with just a popup tent and cases of our product like every one else, but with a real wooden gingham outfitted picnic table and benches, a painted backdrop of a trailer, custom wood cut flavor sign, and a piece of astroturf in case you didn’t get the hint.

Picnic time ya’ll, we do things differently.

In true short cut form I have compiled a list of some of the other standout cherry bits and pieces in this ramshackle camper ride bumping down the road.

•Excited after our Whiskey Peach Blue Ribbon win in August and deciding to add this product RedCampers line I optimistically registered us for the Cherry Creek farmers market that opened in May, but by the time that rolled in we had no product to sell as we had sold it all before the end of December, and there were no peaches to be found. What to do? We launched with IPA Lemon Poppy and Absinthe Orange, two brand new untested flavors. Soon after Strawberry Limoncello and Tequila Jalapeño joined the team. Finally peaches came back in August and we could sell what I signed us up to sell.

•My dear friends Patricia and Jen worked our 3rd farmers market ever in late May without us because Mark and I had a trade show in NYC for our stationery line which had launched a few years earlier. I also was running my virtual branding agency Part + Parcel which paid all the bills. There is no way I could have done any of this with out these angels around me.

•Later that summer Martha Stewarts team asked us to participate in their American Made national contest for best new Makers. We didn’t win. But so exciting!

•Once Sabrina had to jump out of our tent in the Whole Foods parking lot or be run over by an older couple mistaking the gas pedal for the brake pedal. A table full of product nor the cash box survived, but Sabrina did! That was a summer of tent destruction losing two more to micro bursts and instilling a true PTSD response in me to doing outdoor markets. Or even visiting them. 

•We had markets where we sold less than $50 in a full day. And others where we made 3-$4,000 in a day. Some where we were praised, and others where we were scoffed at. Lots where we were asked what to do with this as if having never seen such a thing as jam. It was brutal and I commend any new brand who braves them however critical they are in establishing oneself.

•I was so exhausted that twice farmers market organizers called me after I got home to tell me I'd left all my product on the curb in the parking lot.

•Doing 3 farmers markets myself, 6 collectively, in a weekend, going in to cook until midnight and then bringing it all home to cool in my garage be reboxed and hauled up a flight of stairs to be stacked against all the walls of my home made me very fit. Very.

•The picnic table hauling truck I borrowed from my boyfriend at the time had to be push or jump started after every event. Humbling. 

•Being part of the community and able to donate a portion of sales to such incredible causes like Langtang Village, Standing Rock, fire relief, and so many fundraisers filled me with such pride in being able to give back in some way.
•Meeting my hero chef, Chef Daniel Asher, and have him compliment me & my stuff and want to use it in his own cooking was mind-blowing. I was swimming in imposter syndrome ocean. I still am. 

•A most delicious collaboration with my nemesis Kathy of Modern Gingham proved to my competitive spirit that we were actually all in the same game.

•Having a jar of Deliciousness stolen from my booth at the Stationery Show in NYC was ridiculous. 

•Being asked to speak, and do a demo, for Ted-X Adventure Series was terrifying and exciting. Pumpkin chutney anyone? I couldn't believe I was part of Ted-X in any way. Amazing. I taught 1 more class after that and decided that's not my jam

•The day I found out Whole Foods wanted us in their stores in two different departments and I had to pick which one made me feel for the first time that maybe I was doing something right. I picked Speciality. Definitely the right choice. 

•My dear friend Patricia Belaire, the same booth sitter and a professional chef instructor, did a cooking demo in the rain for me at a farmers market in a church yard. Unbelievable. 

•My neighborhood spot, Sweet Action Ice Cream used our jams in their ice creams planting a deep rooted seed and ever after that day changing my sales pitch to including "put it on ice cream" to that never ending question of "what do I do with this?"

•The numerous unpaid inclusions we have had in magazines over the years is such an honor, including having a jar in a photo in Sunset Magazine being named Best Souvenir in 5280 magazine , included as a pairing in Culture and several other community and regional magazines. 

•I was audited by the state of Colorado for a week and one of the few things they found wrong was an Etsy purchase I hadn't paid taxes on. A taxidermy squirrel I used in my booth at the Stationery show in NYC. (it ended up having a belly full of maggots and was pitched off our studio roof into the dumpster below, which is now a lovely seating area for a plush wine bar) They collected less than $35 after spending a week combing through my books. 

•Getting into the esteemed Zingermans on my first try was thrilling, but it taking 4 years to get into the local specialty grocer Marczyk's, and only then after I was recommended by a jam maker who left town, was not. (Thank you again Raj of Dagstani & Son's!)

•We were invited to a culinary event where we were tasked with pairing a dessert with a beer. We made a fantastic spiced molasses chocolate cookie with Absinthe Orange cream. “Best dessert at the event” Another time Patricia jumped in with her culinary prowess and elevated our game.

•Once USPS lost a $1500 package of 3 lbs of vanilla beans at the height of our peach making season. It was found, eventually. 

•Another time we agreed to do a trade of product for publicity and massively miscalculated leading to weeks of production and labeling of 5000 one ounce jars for nearly no sales in the end. Ouch. 

Valhalla Cakes made the most amazing Breaking Bad themed strawberry jam cake for Marks going away party. She made figures of us dressed in hazmat suits leaning against a boiled over pot of strawberry jam in reference to he and I's jokes of "doing cooks" and he being Jessie and me Walt. 

•Facing my greatest fear I spoke at a panel discussion during Startup Week along side some real big names in the food industry in Colorado. Years later I realize just how far I've come in my confidence to speak in front of others. 

•In 2017 we won our first Good Food Award for a flavor I collaborated on with one of my first customers, Jon Marsh with St. Kilians Cheese Shop and set into motion an even deeper desire to craft at an extraordinary level. 

•Also in 2017 I did another amazing collaboration with Eduardo Vera, a chef from Oaxaca, the Piñon Cherry, a mix of his mole, and my cherry jam. A denied visa to have him come help with production forced us to use video chat via What’s App to co-cook. Remarkably, from a photo he denied my store-bought tortillas destined for char and directed me, from 2000 miles away, to a local tortillaria down the street for pure tortillas. Piñon Chery is to date the flavor I'm most proud of. 

•In a year I can't recall now, I bought 1000 lbs of peaches from my farmers market friend and realized quickly they were not Colorado peaches but in fact Utah peaches. I had such a strong moral compass I refused to use them and instead sold them to breweries, bakeries and to my dear friend Al Laws who made peach whiskey from them. This turns into the core of our 10th Anniversary flavor and something we lovingly called "I am not Whiskey".

•9 kitchens in 10 years. Top that.

•We developed the GFA winning green chile peach flavor after I burnt the living daylights out of a pot of Whiskey Peach and Sabrina happened to bring in roasted green chilis that day. “Sure, let's throw them in and see how it tastes.” Excellent idea Sabrina. 

•The joy of pouring buckets of unusable bits and pieces of peach slop into the pig pens at Broken Shovels might be untopped. Even better than the next item on this list.

•Meeting Massimo Bottura at the Slow Food Event I was exhibiting at. He's very sweet.

•Opening a shop in the midst of a pandemic, in an abandoned restaurant we were cooking out of, and realizing a life long dream of having a store.

•Having all the neighbors of said shop mad when I sold out of the bread I had brought in from Reunion Bread Co before they could get over. A lesson.

•Moving three 8’ tall stacks of jars from the sidewalk, down a set of step narrow stairs to the basement of said shop, in the snow one afternoon was memorable. My employees Lucy and Carlos were heroes that day.

•Getting to collaborate on a picnic bag with my friends Winter Session was awesome. 

•Moving for 6 weeks, into a rental house in Pueblo, to make our seasonal flavor Whiskey Peach in the kitchen in Boone, with Lucy and Carlos and my dog Jack (who got diarrhea from the tap water and stained their newly refinished floors). Was not awesome. That was tough. For everyone. 

•Winning another Good Food Award, 4 years after our first, for the brand new Cocktail Cherries I had been experimenting with for 2 years was also awesome.

•Winning again the next year for Chile Cocktail Cherries. Awesome squared. Lucy pushed this one through.

•Winning again the next year for the Pueblo Chile Peach that was born of a mistake, whoa! We are on a roll! (See if we won a 5th time in 3 weeks from now) 
•Cooking in kitchens that temped at a regular 115-133 degrees in August has been something I can do without. 

•We won a grant for a new van and some equipment! Wow! Colorado you are all right. 

•Being invited by members of the Tohono O’odham people to come pick saguaro fruit inTucson (someday I’ll tell that whole story) after a chance meeting at a Citrus Fest in Tucson was thrilling. Jam making for the win.

•And lastly, making so many new friends and peers who passionately love crafting foods that are wholesome and designed with intention and pushing me to learn so much has been life changing.


10 years in numbers:
287,000+ jars
127,856 lbs of fruit
11 employees
35 contractors
1 sheister fruit seller
5 awards
Nearly 1000 events which means, nearly 100k of tasting spoons
1 pandemic we worked all the way through
475 retail locations
9 kitchens
1 million tears
1 heart filled with gratitude

None of this would have been possible without my incredible team over the years. Mark Veljkovich, Sabrina Kuratomi, Marz Meyer, Ryan the intern, Andrea Tweten, Courtney Wolfe, Jess Christensen, Jae Mancarella, Rachel Ellingson, Micah Micks, Patrice Ingham, Carlos Ferman, Lucy Sossaman, Jessica & Alec Gray, Louise Feagin, Pete Bossard, Nik Bossard, Jessica Evig, Liz Bossard, and all the dozens of contractors and day helpers than have logged miles with me. From the bottom of my heart I’m humbled that you choose to join and I’m grateful for it. Thank you. I’m grateful also for all the fellow makers i’ve been so fortunate to know and be friends with. Especially you Patrick Creager, Aaron Wagner, Kelly Schexnaildre, Andrea Davis, Jolene Collins, Raj Dagstani, Shae Whitney, Julie Ciezadlo, Kathy Lee, Justin Park, Tyler DuBois, Anna Seear, Pete Jokisch. Some of you it’s been awhile but this story would’t have been the same without you.



It's not called Scenic Route for no reason. 

In celebration of this milestone I created a limited edition, short run of a very special flavor I’m calling The Scenic Route - Pinon Peach.

We don’t seem to get anywhere very quickly but we sure do know how to take a long road trip. These flavor is filled with metaphors. Don’t worry, metaphors can still be delicious.

In crafting this flavor I wanted to celebrate some of my proudest moments and some of my most defeating as well. For years a jug of “I am not Whiskey” peach shine made from those Colorado impostering Utah peaches sat waiting for it’s debut moment.

That moment is now.

We paired that shine with White Peaches from our friends at First Fruits, white because they are peaches but not what we imagine peaches to be, juniper berry and sage because it was my aha moment while crafting the Desert Blueberry Gin flavor, piñon nuts because the Oaxacan collaboration Piñon Cherry was perhaps my finest moment of reaching across the aisle to make friends in food, Pueblo red chile powder because the Pueblo/Boone chapter has been such an interesting one, chiltipin powder because I’m so inspired and motivated by new territories and flavors and I discovered this chile during Jacks’ departure tour / the saguaro cactus fruit picking tour, vanilla because I just can’t get enough, no I just can’t get enough, I’m addicted to you vanilla, and sugar, lemon and pectin because that’s the name of the jam game.

I do hope you like it. I made several different batches and the chile level is different in all of them. If you want perfection, you better look elsewhere, I'm not sure you have been paying attention to this story if you are.

We did not make much of this flavor. So get it while you can. I won't be making more. Because that I Am Not Whiskey, is a once in a lifetime deal. Get it. 


So, in the words of the late Paul Harvey, that’s the rest of the story. I realize now that while I never intended this journey, and for a long time considered it a detour from my life, that I’m doing what I was built to do. Be creative, connect people, share stories, and craft an unforgettable experience for someone to take comfort in. This is my art form right now. Where it leads is still in progress. I know the next 10 years will look nothing like the last 10, or the 10 before that, and I’m excited to see what’s around the next corner or past this seemingly never ending hill. Will you join me? It’s a lot more fun with there are passengers.

For way, way more photos, have a peek at these retrospective videos below if you dare. I haven't made it through once without crying. What a thing. To look at 10 years gone by. All the faces and places. This probably means a lot more to my past employees and maybe my parents, but if you are interested in the last 10 years check these out. Also it turns out this August is our 20 year anniversary as a business. I may do an over all retrospective later.

10 Years in 9 Minutes - a slideshow (no naked ladies, sorry)

Instagram for days!  - 10 years of posts


xo & Wish You Were Here,

Maura g


p.s. - If you ever worked for me contact me and I'll get you a jar of this collective effort. xoMg 

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  • Maura, congratulations! You are a hardworking, amazing entrepreneur and one of the kindest persons I know. Thank you for the beautiful article.You
    rock. I wish you continued success!

    Elli on
  • Hugs cuz amazed how much you have grown multilevel super human giving gifts to soo many. When I grow up I wanna be like you. Lol Appreciate sharing love of adventure!

    Laura Micks on

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