How We Started
STERNLINES was a business that came to fruition through a combination of chance and circumstance. At the time we had no idea that our interests in spending time on the water here in New England would have ever turned into a growing regional brand. During our inception in 2012, we began reclaiming small amounts of lobster rope to make our original lobster rope doormats on a part time basis from our friends who were Maine lobstermen and women! Not knowing where this journey would take us, we slowly began reclaiming larger amounts of lobster rope to meet an increased demand for wholesale customers and gift shops here in New England. It was absolutely surreal! In 2015, our lives as parents and co-founders changed forever when we lost our first son CJ as infant. At the time Liz had initially planned to take one year off of teaching to spend time at home as a new mom. At the same time, Mike had just finished graduate school at Boston University and had modeled STERNLINES as a graduate project in marketing management.
As time has moved along, we have been fortunate enough to grow both STERNLINES and our family (with two more children). What began here in Maine with skilled artistry and a passion for a nautical lifestyle, has evolved into a growing business where we have reclaimed almost 100,000 pounds of plastic based (Polypropylene) lobster rope that would have otherwise ended in a landfill. A major part of our family based business continues to consist of creating sustainable and environmentally friendly products that truly bring a small piece of Maine into your home! To remain socially responsible is an ongoing commitment. As our product line continues to expand, our focus is to continuously take steps toward improving the quality of our goods and supporting our local and global environment.
What We Are Learning
When a federal water fishing ban imposed limiting the use of float rope (Polypropylene based) on ground trawls (the lines on the ocean floor between the traps), the lobstering industry changed dramatically here in Maine almost overnight. Today, lobstermen now use a mixture of both float rope and sink rope to haul their lobster pots. Although sink rope is much safer for marine life, it is unfortunately on average twice as expensive as its predecessor (float rope) and is only about 25% as durable. Causing it to breakdown relatively quickly when compared to that of float rope that generally carries a ten year life span.
As we have expanded into apparel and accessories, we have made the commitment to work with vendors right here in New England. All of our Deckhand Bags are handcrafted in Mystic, Connecticut and our Dockside Loungers are constructed and milled right here in Maine. All of our soft goods continue to be produced and screen printed in Newfields, New Hampshire.
Why We Do It
We now travel from York all the way to Machiasport, Maine on a regular basis gathering and reclaiming old rope form over 40 Maine lobstermen. Like any marketplace, lobstermen have their preferences too on rope widths, colors and lengths! That is why each rope mission as we call it, is truly a new adventure! We rarely know what color rope a lobstermen is going to have. Although the patterns may be similar, no two are ever the same! That is why it is vitally important for us to show our customers the path our products take to their doorstep. Often times, what ends up on your porch or doorstep was just reclaimed as old lobster fishing gear out of the Atlantic a few short days or weeks prior to its arrival at your home!