Keep The North Cold

It’s October 19th, and that means all signs point towards winter. I don’t despair, however, because this gives me an excuse to bust out big, fuzzy sweaters and completely justifies weekends spent indoors binge-watching television, throwing log after log on the fire.

To be honest, I have come to love winter since moving to Minnesota. While my opinion may be unpopular, I am not alone.  I’ve found that I am much more productive and driven when I am forced to hunker down and stay inside. We’ve found ways to stay active and outdoors 365 days a year, letting no sunny day go to waste. Our winters also inspire quite a few of my friends, who seem to do their best work during the bitter weather. Given the creative climate in this town, I’m beginning to think long winters may be an x-factor.


In 2013, I helped concept and design an initial run of North stocking hats for Askov Finlayson. What started off as a winky way to differentiate Minnesota from the midwest, and establish it’s new identity as the “North”, became something of a phenomena. The initial idea was to reaffirm what we (including me in regards to my newly adopted home state) already knew: Minnesota is defined by creativity and innovation forged by our harsh climate.

You can’t swing a laptop without hitting a “creative” here; everyone knows at least one graphic designer, photographer, clothing/textile designer, copywriter or someone that works in the 20 or so advertising/design agencies in Minneapolis or St. Paul. We have almost as many theaters per capita as New York City. A thriving music and fine arts scene. And at one time or another, everyone in this town has worked for or with Target. And speaking of Target, Minnesota is home to more than a few large companies you will find nationwide (3M, General Mills, Medtronic, United Health Group, Best Buy), and others that you may recognize from smaller fine boutiques (Red Wing Shoes, Faribault Woolen Mills). Don’t tell me that we aren’t different from that nebulous catch-all that is “Midwest”.

The response to the initial North hats was incredible. Hats sold out within four days. Four days.


Askov was kind enough to ask me to design the 2015 run of North hats and mittens, which you can find here. This year, Askov is adding an important new element: sales from all North products will benefit Climate Generation (formerly the Will Steger Foundation). This Keep The North Cold initiative utilizes all the momentum around Minnesota as The North to bring attention to climate change. Minnesota will be one of the states hit hardest by the effects of climate change, and the region is also one of the biggest culprits when it comes to contributing to the problem. Each North product sold will enable Climate Generation to educate one promising high school student to become a leader on the issue of climate change.Web-4227

Get them while you can, people. And enjoy yourself this winter.

Images: Will Steger’s Wilderness Center, Ely Minnesota;  Askov Finlayson – NORTH hats, featuring Wing Ta, Will Steger, R.T. Rybak, Lisa Hackwith and Kate Arends