Photos by Taylor Rae Photos.

Gift Shop Plus Winter 2024
Wilderness Inspired: National Parks and Beyond sparks wanderlust By Carly McFadden

Laura Cole and her husband have always been avid travelers.

Laura Cole. All photos by Taylor Rae Photos.
Laura Cole. All photos by Taylor Rae Photos.

About 10 years ago, the Missouri-based couple took their four sons on a family trip to New York City and Washington, D.C. En route home, the family stopped at the Blue Ridge Mountains for a scenic view and to stretch their legs.

“Later on, we asked our boys, ‘What was your favorite part of the trip?’ and they said, ‘The pull-off [at Blue Ridge Mountains] that we did.’ My husband and I were like, ‘OK, that’s it. National parks and outdoors, that’s what our family is going to do from now on.’”

Since then, the Cole family has traveled to 39 national parks and found their passion along the way.

“Even while we’re at a park, we’re trying to decide when we’re going to see what park we’re going to next,” Cole said. “We just love everything about it, about how every park is different. There are so many different landscapes just in the United States that we’re constantly trying to find somewhere new.”

The Coles have always looked forward to stopping at national parks’ visitor centers to collect souvenirs that are tangible marks of their adventures. As Cole’s sons grew up and left for college, she found herself with the opportunity in 2021 to launch National Parks and Beyond, her own line of national park-themed souvenirs.

National Parks and Beyond's offerings encompass a variety of categories, including apparel, stationery and tableware.
National Parks and Beyond’s offerings encompass gifts, apparel, stationery and tableware.

National Parks and Beyond covers a gamut of gifting categories with nature-inspired designs, including apparel, stickers, pins, books, drinkware and even monthly subscription boxes. The shop is available on Faire’s wholesale website and direct to consumers at nationalparksandbeyond.com. Cole digitally illustrates each product’s design, which can then be printed on a variety of products.

The illustrations often depict the beauty of the national parks, but the offerings are laden with punny options as well. Some examples include a beaver with the phrase “Dam It,” an “Out of Breath Hiking Club” badge-like sticker and a bison illustration with the sentiment “Don’t Pet the Fluffy Cows!”

National Parks and Beyond can be found at conservatories and museum sites, as well as gift shops regional to parks. One top-seller at the moment is a ChapStick holder that clips onto keychains or water bottles, but Cole’s personal favorite products are her waterproof stickers.

“I love collecting stickers,” Cole said. “Everywhere we go, I have to have a new one. I have suitcases covered in all the stickers I collect.”

Cole’s company is her passion and creative outlet. While she works at a hospital during the day, she looks forward to coming home and working on her illustrations.

“It’s therapeutic for me to de-stress after a long day at the hospital to come home and do this,” she said.

PRODUCTS WITH PURPOSE

Giving back to her original muse — national parks — is important to Cole. For each purchase made, National Parks and Beyond donates 5% to a national park of the customer’s choice. According to Cole, the top parks chosen at checkout include Yellowstone, Olympic, Great Smoky Mountains and Mount Rainier.

National Parks and Beyond donates 5%of each sale to a national park of the customer’s choice.

With nearly 40 national parks under her belt thus far, Cole has a hard time narrowing down her personal favorites.

“I have a top four, and I cannot decide which one is my favorite,” she said. “Those would be Zion, Glacier, Katmai and Kenai Fjords. I cannot pick because they’re all so different from each other.”

National Parks and Beyond’s offerings encompass a variety of categories, including apparel, stationery and tableware.

Cole hopes National Parks and Beyond can spark conversation and enjoyment among a community of nature- lovers or travelers. She aims to continue to grow the brand so it receives more exposure and brings awareness to the company’s mission.

“I’d like to be able to get our products into more places, have more people see [them] and even become a household name,” she said, “so if somebody sees my shirts or the stickers, they’re like, ‘Oh, I love that company, and I love what they stand for.’”

Carly McFadden

Carly McFadden is the managing editor for Gift Shop Plus, Stationery Trends and a variety of special issue publications, including: The Guide, Holiday Shop, Celebrations & Occasions and Waterfront Living.




Social Connections


👀Guess who else is speaking!We can't wait to hear from our guest speakers at The Garden Center Show, presented by Lawn & Garden Retailer - L&GR, happening Aug. 6-7 in Rosemont, IL. Are you attending? And did we mention registration is FREE?! Hear from these guest speakers:📣 Sarah Schwartz: Editor-in-Chief of Stationery Trends magazine and Host of The Paper Fold podcast📣 Lawson Thalmann: Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at Chalet Nursery 📣 Allison McKenzie: Creative Director for Great American Media Services and SmartSolutions 📣 Kim Baker: COO & CMO for Great American Media Services and SmartSolutions🔗 Register for FREE: LGRMag.com/GCSRegister🌐 Learn more: www.gardencentershow.com🚌 Bus tour info: lgrmag.com/LGRBusTour#GCS24 #GardenCenterShow #GardenEvents #InPersonEvent #Networking #RetailStrategies #SpecialtyRetailers #GardenCenter #Conference #speaker ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
Gift Shop Plus Winter 2024
Get one year of Gift Shop Plus in both print and digital editions for just $16.

Interested in reading the print edition of Gift Shop Plus?

Subscribe Today »

website development by deyo designs