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Why Couloir? Our story.

We woke up to an odd mixture of the ocean sounds and people rushing around our campervan. We knew we had parked in the 'day-use only' area but since campsites were limited in Santa Monica we decided to take the chance. Trying to think of the upcoming explanation we crawled out of our sleeping bags and opened the sliding door. To our surprise, we saw a massive filming crew arranging the film set and a quick breakfast. We looked towards the cliffs and the calm ocean waves on the other side of the parking spot and decided to fix some coffee and snacks of our own.
These rental campervans usually come with a box of dishes and a small propane stove. I set up a table next to the open trunk, placed the stove, and got out the box with dishes. It took some effort to figure out the propane connection but as I turned to Yana with the good news of this operation’s success, my proud smile turned into a shocked face when I saw the whole box with cups and plates fall off the trunk of the van.
The whole thing shattered. So we packed the glorious stove back, folded the table, swept the broken dishes bits, and headed to the nearest Starbucks.” - Memories of California camping adventures with the best friend in 2018.
On top of the mountain by the waterfall at Yosemite National Park hiking the trails

Hi there, my name is Masha. I founded Couloir [ART.] in 2019 (less than a year after the events described above).

Born and raised in Ukraine I studied fine art and cinematography in the National Academy of Fine Arts and Architecture in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Even though I was fortunate to visit the most iconic museums and historic places both in Ukraine and Western Europe I was always driven by the vastness and adventure spirit of the US. So the year I graduated with a Master's in Fine Arts degree I left for New York to explore the theatrical field and later to the state of Arizona to enjoy some good weather and Thanks Giving meal my family’s friend invited me to. 
Little did I know that by the time I landed at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport my own country of Ukraine had started a national revolution with a million people protest rushing down the capital streets on one of which was my that day apartment. Needless to say, my parents strongly suggested I postponed my return trip. 
Fortunately, Arizona welcomed me generously with both great weather and huge interest in my artwork. The next three and a half years I spent traversing the States and showing my art at various shows from Monterey, CA to Amelia Island in Florida. However, fun it was I eventually settled in Phoenix Arizona where I live now with my husband and two dogs.

We are eager nature lovers and camp as often as we can.

Arizona family camping between the boulders with dogs huskie and a lab

Spending time outdoors allowed us to see places that are otherwise hidden.

I think it teaches one to appreciate and respect the outdoors more and it is essential to get close to ‘the land’ now and then. We learned that you should always be I've prepared as a warm and sunny late summer day can turn into a vicious hail storm and suddenly drop the temperatures to freezing. Or that a cool Arizona morning hike into a canyon can turn into a hot and dry uphill later in the afternoon with close to no shade and abundant with rattlesnakes looking for lunch. But we also learned that if you wake up early enough you can spot a deer roaming in the soft pre-sunrise light. You can observe the pink rays crawling over the rolling hills and the morning fog relieving the valley.

With all that said, that campervan trip described above made me rethink the basics of meals and drinks consumption.

Traditionally, one would need to choose between the sturdiness of ceramic dinnerware (when your beans aren’t dripping on your knees off the soggy paper plate) and the convenience of the single-use products which are light, won’t break, and don’t require cleaning.

We have strong feelings about plastic use and its effect on nature as well as other single-use products out of paper.

Unfortunately, they can’t be recycled after absorbing the fats and juices from the food. And even those that are produced from the recycled materials are questionable solutions as our recycling technologies and logistics of distribution are far from perfect. But having a chance to be left with zero dinnerware at all the first day of a trip is not a great alternative and doesn’t help nature either. 
Our idea was simple - get back to classics but make it better.

We chose to offer people old school enamel plates and mugs but make them look modern and attractive!

Camping dinnerware set reusable enamel locally produced in AZ and sustainable
They combine the best features of both worlds: they can’t shatter, are sturdy but also light, they are reusable but you can throw them in a dishwasher after. They feel like home even when you are on the side of the mountain with no cell service. They also feel like an adventure even when you are simply sipping your usual coffee drink on the couch.

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We chose these five non-profit organizations to support for a reason:

Pollinator Partnership

My original last name (Pasichnyk) means the beekeeper if translated literally to English. My extended grandfather had a few beehives and my childhood memories definitely included the smell of the fresh honey, stories about bees, and then large glass jars used to store honey for the whole year till the next season comes. There were dark brown jars with buckwheat honey, bright yellow with the mixture of the field blooms, and then very pale almost white jars made from acacia pollen. One thing I learned was that honey bees are crucial to our ecosystem. They make sure we have fruits each year, and that the plants flourish and are able to give us their rich harvests. That's why the initiative of the Pollinator Partnership is so important. As is buying your honey supply from the local sustainable producers. And moreover, the honey made from the bloom in the area where you reside is known to cure allergies as it introduces your body to the pollen gradually and consistently. 

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Protect Our Winters

This one is special. Just as they state on their front page: Your passion for the outdoors can help save it. This guy who is a professional snowboarder (Jeremy Jones) has always been an inspiration for me. He turned winter sports into art. His lines and routes were unheard-of and following his trips through the photos that he would post was always a huge tease. But most importantly he made his statement clear. We thrive in the snow and the great outdoors and the climate issues can drastically change that. So if you love your winter ski trips - Help to Protect Our Winters. They have currently a few initiatives and a clear 'game plan' with instructions for those interested to get involved. For this simplicity and a great spirit, I would love to support them! (And in case you wandered the name Couloir is actually a mountaineering term used a lot by 'free riders' which means a passage in the mountains or a corridor.Think of those Red Bull videos where a helicopter drops off the skier at the top of the mountain from which they then descend between the rocky 'corridor' producing a beautiful symmetrical curve.)

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Arizona Humane Society

This one was a no-brainer. Half of our adventure photos include the two dogs: a lab and a husky. And while a lab was lucky to be born on a nice farm with a huge yard, a husky wasn't so much. He was found on the streets of Tucson wandering aimlessly. He then was adopted at the age of around two years. The sweetest dog ever (literally - he loooves everything baked and ones ate the whole pack of the Hawaiian rolls while we were away and left them on the table).However, thinking of him wandering the streets of the Southern city is heart-breaking. While coyotes have adapted to the striking heat of this state - other dogs haven't and heat can kill them very fast. I have personally known a few of the organization's representatives and I believe they are a highly professional team that helps the pets that were less lucky.

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Wolf Conservation Center

Now, this might sound a little weird... Since I was a kid, I was obsessed with the wolves. I remember watching the movie Balto and falling in love with wolves. That children's story about the brave wolf-dog who saved the town in Alaska melted my heart as well as many other kids'. 

But jokes aside - wolves are crucial to our environment. They help to control the population of herbivores and ensure that the latter have enough food for their families.

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Ocean Clean Up

This one is pretty obvious. Most of the planet Earth is covered by oceans. I'm sure everyone has at least once googled those awful plastic trash islands. Ocean pollution is real. So this was the least 'romantic' choice for us to support. It is just something that really matters. Period.

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