We had the absolute pleasure of corresponding with Dawn Bitz, the founder and president of Grasshaven Outdoor and a self described outdoor lifestyle media expert to pick her brain regarding camping. She is full of spunk and is “passionate about sharing outdoor entertaining, camping and RVing ideas to get the entire family outdoors.” (as she says on Her website) We got some awesome advice from her about her business and camping in general. Check out this good interview stuff below.
What is Grass Haven and how is it different from other camping stores?
Dawn: At Grasshaven, we’re a lifestyle or even better, an “outdoor life with style” that strives to make the great outdoors accessible to all, especially the most reluctant person. We sell great products and bring information and ideas to beginners and experts alike in a way that is female inclusive but not male exclusive. We want to make the outdoors accessible for the entire family. It’s permission to enjoy the outdoors in comfort and style. Whether you’re glamping or just plain old family camping, Grasshaven brings a level of indoor style to the outdoor lifestyle.
We also are committed to socioeconomic principles and have vowed 1% back of proceeds to get kids and families outdoors.
When and how did the idea for Grass Haven come to you?
Dawn: LOL. It ALL occurred because I was a consumer to the industry. I LOVE camping and being outdoors but I couldn’t find products I wanted (and I live in Boulder, CO). I’m a mom and I figured other moms and mainstream American families might want the same thing. I just wanted to get my kids unplugged and outdoors but I didn’t want to sacrifice. You know, after two kiddos, I couldn’t sleep on the ground anymore (and my 3 year old won’t do a 5 mile trek to a remote, backwoods campsite).
It all began when I was working a big corporate job in the medical device industry. We were planning a big multi-family camping vacation. When I struggled to find the products and information I needed, I realized I should quit my job and start a company to give people access to products that allowed families to car, RV and backyard camp.
Spontaneously quit my 6-figure job to pursue this crazy idea you might ask? I did just that in August of 2012. We spent the next 6 months doing market research, talking with consumers and reluctant outdoors people, building our website and sourcing products. We launched commercially Jan 9, 2013 and electronically (www.grasshavenoutdoor.com) at the Colorado RV and camping show to great fanfare and we’ve been growing ever since. We now have 20 point of sale locations (and growing) nationwide and plans to increase that presence exponentially in the near future.
We received a tremendous amount of media attention as well. That has continued to blossom. Now I also personally have a growing media brand centered on stylish outdoor adventures and the outdoor lifestyle www.dawnbitz.com. I share ideas throughout both local and syndicated network television, digital media, and publications. I have regular segment on the CW network in Denver, a book in development, a 12 episode web series on www.amerigorv.com, another web series in development, and an upcoming book. Recently, I was asked to be the spokesperson for the American Recreation Coalition’s Great Outdoors Month and their Capital Campouts initiative. It’s all about changing the face and redefining camping. Let’s make camping cool to get more families in the great outdoors!
What are a couple of your favorite products you sell and why?
Dawn: I can’t say everything?!?! I love our tents. They go up and down in about 60 seconds. Our director’s chairs, kitchen and tables are amazing too. I camp with all of them personally. We also have some really fun and innovative kitchen gadgets and gorgeous dinnerware well suited to outdoor dinners. Everything we select has a purpose. There is a reason why we have included everything in our curated product offering. From our compact can openers to our nesting utensils, products at Grasshaven are specifically selected with camping and an outdoor lifestyle in mind. And, the entire team camps at Grasshaven outdoor.
What good things are people saying about Grass Haven?
Dawn: It’s so exciting to have taken a risk on an idea and see such a positive response to what we’re doing. It’s really fun to see the visceral reaction from people experiencing Grasshaven products for the first time. And even better when they call their friends over. Then the ooohh’s and aaahh’s grow louder. RV business has called me “the Martha Stewart of Camping” and we’ve had an exceptional reception from mainstream media. The media has even referred to Grasshaven as the “Pottery Barn of camping.” We’ve even been in Sunset magazine amongst others. But don’t take our word for it, here are some quotes…
“Outdoor product I’ve never seen before”
Anchor, KDVR CO Fox News affiliate
“Martha Stewart of RV’ing
Article, RV Business
“Camping has come a long way with Grasshaven”
Reporter, WCCO MN NBC affiliate
What area are you thinking about expanding into for the future?
Dawn: At Grasshaven, we always “plant and tend” lots of business and channel “seeds.” We cultivate many to see what areas are responding and then we take care of those areas even more. We don’t forget the slow growers because they just might take a little longer to blossom. Basically that means we a lot in the works for the future!
Although we’re both a car and RV camping company, we’ve been focused on the RV industry the last year with some great success as we’re the only RV housewares company in the nation (rvhousewares.com).
We have some really exciting things in the works both at a new web platform level and ways to bring even greater accessibility of Grasshaven products to the masses. Stay tuned!
Do you believe your products would appeal to folks on Duck Dynasty or do you believe your market is only for the trendy suburban housewife?
Dawn: We have great products that fit all tastes and interests. Cool camping products can be useful to everyone. Really Grasshaven is for everyone who loves the outdoors and just wants to have a memorable experience (preferably positive). We strive to help provide just that. As for Duck Dynasty guy… they know that when momma is happy she makes the Dynasty boys happy…right 😉
In your opinion, what is the best place you personally camped?
Dawn: Growing up, one of my favorite destinations was the Gila National Forest in New Mexico. We’d go there every summer. We’d start with base camping and then we’d hike back in for some backpacking. As I got older and particularly when I was a mounted horseback paramedic (whole other story entirely), I did a lot of camping in the hill country of Texas while on trail rides. When my husband and I were first married, we had an amazing camping trip in Alaska. Now that I have kids, anytime I’m with is the best! I think the best camping experiences evolve with your personal lifestyle! Although they usually always include great friends or loved ones.
What’s one piece of camping advice you would like to give to our readers?
Dawn: Don’t let perceptions of camping define experiences of camping. You don’t have to hike 5 miles in to officially “go camping.” Heck I still consider it camping even if I’m only in my backyard. And, if it gets too cold, hot, rainy, snowy, uncomfortable…. Call it and head home or to a hotel. You didn’t fail just because you didn’t “tough” it out. I had a very memorable “moms and kids” camping trip that not only included a great campsite set up but also an impromptu cabin adventure as well. The outdoors should just be fun and enjoyable. Bottom line, just get outdoors and make memories together!
President and Founder, Grasshaven Outdoor
Outdoor Lifestyle Media Expert