We caught up with Kristin Hammer of Nature Together to talk about her retail shop, outdoor pre-school and what inspires her.
DM: How did you get started in your business?
KH: There are two sides of my business, the education side, and the retail side. I entered the education side of things back in 2004 when I decided to return to school for a master’s in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in environmental education.
While I was in school, I was also working at a museum where I had opportunities to teach children of all ages. I realized that I loved teaching preschoolers and decided I had to open my own outdoor school one day. I continued to work towards that goal over the years and started my own nature-based preschool in 2017.
As for the retail side, that officially started in 2019 when I opened Nature Together Shop in Old Town Mukilteo. We’re located at 619 4th Street, between Red Cup Cafe and Mukilteo Chocolate Company. That had been a dream of mine for years as well. I’ve always loved local boutique-type shops and thought it would be fun to have my own that offered all the nature-inspired items I personally love.
DM: Who inspired you to take this path?
KH: I know this might sound strange, but the universe has been pushing me to create my business for a very long time. It was an idea that came from something larger than me and would not let go. As I pursued the idea, I eventually looked to Erin Kenny. She was a leader in the forest kindergarten movement and created Cedarsong Forest School on Vashon Island. I was fortunate enough to learn from Erin in 2018 and became a certified Cedarsong Way teacher before she passed away.
DM: Is there an achievement or contribution that you are most proud of and why?
KH: I’m really proud of my team at Nature Together. They each come with strong skillsets and collectively we make Nature Together what it is today. I see our work growing and improving each year.
DM: What is your favorite hiking place to visit and why?
KH: I’m going to keep it local and say the Big Gulch. I love that one mostly because of the memories my family has made there over the years. It was our first hike in Mukilteo when we moved here 10 years ago.
DM: Do you have a favorite book, website, or podcast, and why?
KH: It’s hard to pick just one to share because I have so many! For a book, I would have to say Richard Louv’s “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder” made a huge impact on me back in 2006 and fueled my fire to pursue a nature-based preschool. I read less these days because I am really busy with work and family, but I do listen to a lot of podcasts. Guy Raz’s “How I Built This” and Oprah Winfrey’s “Super Soul” podcast helped me gain confidence in taking the initial steps to start my business.
DM: If you could have dinner with someone (alive or dead, real or fictional), who would it be and why?
KH: This is another hard one! I’ll go for a fun dinner and say, Tina Fey. She is a creative, powerful woman with a successful career, but also seems down to earth. Not to mention, hilarious.
DM: What do you think surprises people about you?
KH: That I actually created a business. I know my close friends and family always believed in me, but in general, I don’t think people thought it would happen. As I shared my idea over the years, I could tell some people didn’t understand what I wanted to accomplish. Others listened and smiled, but didn’t take me seriously.
DM: What was the biggest challenge you face as a business owner?
KH: All of the sudden changes that occurred with the pandemic last year has been my biggest challenge so far. The immediate shut down to both the school and shop and all of the changes that came with that was stressful.
DM: Is there anything else you would like to share with me?
KH: I think everybody could spend more time in nature, because nature is healing.
DM: Is there any question I should have asked you but did not?
KH: Whenever someone new I meet learns that I have an all-outdoor preschool, they always ask, “What do you do if it rains?”
To learn more about Nature Together, visit their website at www.explorenaturetogether.com
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