amber and posa about2

Amber Hochbein –

When I was little, I used to love to make things. I made cars out of paper grocery bags , shoes out of paper and duct tape, and at six years-old, I made a paper bikini and taped it to my body. Both of my parents encouraged my imagination and creativity and provided me the means and time to utilize them.  I am not sure if it was the paper bikini fiasco or if it was to give me another medium to create besides paper, either way, my mom taught me to sew. When I was little, I used to sew pillows and teddy bears and in a college hippie phase, I started sewing my own clothes. I never used a pattern. I could visualize it in my head,  cut out the fabric, and sew it; however, my biggest obstacle was always threading the bobbin. I could never thread it by myself, so my mother always set up the bobbin for me.

I grew up in southwestern Pennsylvania in a home and on a farm that our parents bought Amber and mom finalwhen they were newly married. They envisioned the place where they wanted to raise their children. They bought the farm, and it was there that they built a childhood for my sister Mandy and I.

In 1994, Friends of our family went to Nicaragua and were amazed and humbled by their experience. My father went with them on the next trip, and then my mom and dad went together several times after that. When Mandy was sixteen and I was fifteen, my parents took us for the first time. Of all of the gifts my parents have given me in my lifetime, I still declare that taking me to Nicaragua was the best gift I have ever received. We did this as a family, year after year. We built schools, an orphanage, and houses and with each trip I left more of my heart in Nicaragua.

I have always loved butterflies, and my mom would always buy me butterfly jewelry. At the end of my sophomore year of college, both a ring and a clay butterfly that my mom bought me were broken.  Shortly after, my dad called me to say that my mom was having some tests done, and we found out that she had cancer.  I came home to be with her in the hospital. I read to her, painted her nails, brushed her hair, and played a wind up fishing game with her.  On one of what came to be her last days, I had on my brown, polyester shirt with brightly colored butterfly print. It was my best thrift store bargain to date. One of the couples sharing the hospital waiting room with us noticed my shirt. The man came up to me and said that they had gathered what was going on in our family and shared that his wife’s sister passed away from cancer and left behind two teenage daughters. He told me that his wife said, “Send us a sign that everything will be alright. Send us a butterfly.” In one of the funeral arrangements came a large butterfly. He told me that his wife saw my shirt and said, “Everything is going to be alright.”  I spoke at my own mother’s funeral days later and shared the story of the butterfly. This became a symbol of her, and our family and friends showered us in butterflies to bring any sort of comfort. She passed away just a month after being diagnosed with cancer, and at nineteen, I knew no world without her in it. My dad, sister, now brother-in-law, and several family friends went to Nicaragua together to build a house for a family in my mother’s honor. I have been working in this project and in this community since that trip in 2001.

Amber and kids finalBefore my mom got sick, I had already applied and agreed to transfer to Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado. After she passed away, my father told me he still wanted me to live my life, and so I packed my belongings, including a comforter that my mom helped me sew before I started college, and I left for Colorado. When I arrived in Gunnison, I was young, far from home, and suffering from the most significant loss I had never even imagined. Two weeks into living in Gunnison, two little girls were walking by giving away puppies from a wagon. I chose the one that the girls said, “No one ever picks.” I named her Posa, for Mariposa, and she taught me about love, friendship, and loyalty. She was another butterfly that my mom sent to show me that I will be “alright.”

Posa has been my companion for the last thirteen years and has been by my side even in my darkest times.

I had not touched a sewing machine since my mom was alive until I came up with the design for this scarf.  I was half way through sewing my first Posa, when I had to change the bobbin, and I did it myself. In addition to sewing, my mom taught me so many things.  She taught me how to be brave, to love, and to be kind to other people. Even in her absence she has taught me that all we leave behind are relationships, memories, and how we treat people.

This company is named Posa Apparel in honor of the dog, who saved my life, and in honor of my mom, our butterfly, who continues to make us all grow.

I met Paul in 2013. He showed me how to open up my heart again. He continues to teach me to be better, and there is no one that I would rather build this company with.

paul and thomas finalPaul Simmons –

With a passion for life, a wild imagination, and an understanding that anything is possible, I was equipped with all the tools I needed to live a far from typical life… 

Even though I grew up in the inner city of  East Denver, I’ve always had an affinity for the outdoors, and a seemingly unquenchable thirst for adventure. Being from Colorado, outdoors and adventure are almost one in the same. Having the wonderment of the Rocky Mountains in my own backyard, created boundless opportunities and will always remain a blessing to me. 

I quickly learned that being the youngest of two, if I ever wanted to hang with the “big kids” I would have to be tough in order to keep up. So of course that meant anything my big brother did, naturally I did too. However, just underneath the surface there was always something ushering me down the path less traveled…

Paul_Theater

It didn’t take long before my parents recognized that I was hardly shy and had what some called  a larger than life personality. At the age of six, my mother somehow managed to pull strings and got me into a touring production of “The  Sharon Lois & Bram Show” being held in my town. From that day forward I developed a passion for the arts and got seriously involved in the theater program in high school, and auditioned for every production I could.

After graduation, gears shifted a bit and I set off on a mission that would change my life forever. At the end of that summer I enlisted in the Marine Corps with the idea of not only serving my country, but adding much needed structure and discipline in my life, at the same time giving me the opportunity to see the world. This was the most challenging experience in my life, and will always be something I am extremely proud of.

Following my tour in the military, I earned a scholarship that would allow me to pursue two of my childhood dreams. One playing college football, and the other, returning to the stage where I always felt so comfortable. It was because of my theatre background that I was introduced to costume construction, where I became proficient in sewing and working with textiles while studying The Performing and Visual Arts at Southern Utah University. Little did I know that I was developing the skills that would teach me how to set up a bobbin and bring me to where I am today.

In the spring of 2013, I met Amber Hochbein, and instantly realized what a truly amazing human being she is, tirelessly demonstrating the real meaning of selflessness and compassion for others.

I have been fortunate to have a caring and supportive family, who gave me the confidence to take risks and allowed me to have such a range of experiences in my life from enlisting in the military, fighting wild fires for the U.S. Forrest Service, riding bulls, taking the stage, and following my passions.  I have learned to always live life to the fullest, find joy in the little things,  and to spread happiness to all those around you.