Adventure is dirty business. With piles of gear comes the need for novel ways to store, stow and transport gear that may be clean, but will soon become filthy; dry bags, duffles, packs and totes are often as important as the equipment they carry. The more we explore, the more we are faced with pant seams that come apart, zippers that fail and wetsuits that leak. Lucky for adventurers in the Comox Valley, Jason Stevens lives here.
To lay out the chronology of Stevens’ pre-Cumberland life would be difficult. Here are the highlights. The Dawson Creek B.C.-raised Stevens learned to sew using industrial equipment while working as a “smoke jumper” in Fort St. John. Wilderness firefighting is hard on gear, so he learned to repair it himself. In 2005, when he returned to Smithers he began repairing discarded outdoor clothing. As his skill set grew he began fabricating his own designs. Soon a business, Sew What I Sew, was born. In 2010 he arrived in Cumberland looking for a fresh start and now fulfills commercial contracts fabricating glass catching bags for fire departments, dry bags for helicopters and field guide covers for foresters. He has gained a reputation for innovative gear solutions.
Enter the Filthy Taco.
The Filthy Taco is a change mat, duffle and laundry bag all rolled into one. A circle of vulcanized rubber with a zipper running around the periphery. Open it up, lay it alongside your vehicle and pull out the integrated changing screen (complete with magnets to hold the top of the screen in place against your car door). Wriggle into your wetsuit or cycling kit in relative privacy. Reverse the process and wet, grimy gear falls onto the mat, where it can be zipped up and brought home. It’s simply brilliant.
Stevens’ shop is a curious space. Antique sewing machines and cobbling equipment are displayed throughout the large, single room. The only automated pieces of equipment are his sewing machines and espresso maker. The rest is done by hand. In a world dominated with digitally designed apparel and machine made products, Stevens’ ability to sew on demand is a humble approach to this commercial venture.
To call Stevens a renaissance man may not be far from the truth. Splitting his time between Sew What I Sew, working as a paramedic, and studying to become a nurse, he is also engaged in his community. He sponsors local teams and events. He also volunteers his time both here and abroad. It seems that while his business—and his products—may be dirtier than most, his passions are crystal clear.