About Us

Welcome to Tapir Tuesdays!

 

 

Ashley Rommel Headshot

My name is Ashley Rommel and I want to thank you for visiting my store! While of course it would be great if you made a purchase (a percent of each sale is donated to tapir conservation), at the very least hopefully you will learn something new about a unique and endangered animal; the tapir.
 
You may be wondering how I decided to start a business that combined jewelry, gifts and apparel with tapir conservation & education. Well it isn’t as odd a combination as is sounds, at least from my point-of-view.

 

Accident

 

In the summer of 2015 I was involved in a car accident and suffered a traumatic brain injury. Recovery was long and slow. I had to relearn how to walk and balance on my feet, among other things. Doing anything related running a business was out of the question as just making it through the day without a massive headache was accomplishment enough. 

 

I slowly got better after months of rehab. Eventually I started feeling up to working on life things again and about year later I was ready start "living" again. However I was limited in what I could do work-wise and began thinking of ways I could feel a little more productive. When I lived in Kentucky I ran a bridal shop that focused on customized jewelry and bridal accessories. I really loved the creative and design aspects of the business, but the clientele were...a bit difficult at times lol. And then it came to me…

Tapirs have been my favorite animal since I was little. I have no idea why. Maybe I felt a little odd and out of place growing up and tapirs seemed to fall in the same category. It was so long ago I don’t remember the exact reasons, but I became attached and wanted to see them whenever I could. 

Woodland Park Zoo TapirWhen we moved to Seattle I was very happy to learn that the zoo there also had a tapir (pictured above). As they are endangered, not every zoo has them. We started visiting the zoo regularly, just like we did in Kentucky, and each time the visit to the tapir was always the highlight of our trip. During one of our first visits they actually had small stuffed tapirs at the gift shop. Of course I purchased one and named him Toby.


Following the accident I developed PTSD. I also became over stimulated by pretty much anything and everything having to do with being inside a car. Trips to the many doctors I had to see were very stressful and I needed something to hold/squeeze during the trips to keep me calm. I tried a stress/tension ball at first but that didn’t help all that much. We couldn’t go to the zoo during this time, so I couldn't see my tapir friend, which as weird as it sounds, made my emotions worse (brain injuries are strange). 

Then I remembered Toby. Soon he was going everywhere; to all appointments and any travel I had to do during this time. If I couldn’t go to the zoo to visit the tapirs at least I could take part of the zoo with me.

Hospital with Toby

 Well it worked. I still cannot drive and have issues with merging traffic when I am a passenger, but those months holding Toby at each and every appointment really helped with my recovery. After I was well enough to go back to the zoo and visit the real tapirs, I cried like a baby. It was a happy cry though. The Tapirs (there are two now) didn’t know why I was crying obviously, but I knew. I decided I wanted to somehow “give back” to the tapirs who, in their way, helped me through the past year, and thus Tapir Tuesdays was born. 

I know it’s an unusual story and may not make sense to some, but for me, to be able to combine two things I love after the events I went through makes it easier to deal with the continuing effects of the accident.

So there you have it! Tapirs and jewelry, gifts and apparel,  just like PB & J (lol). Again, I want to thank you for visiting my store and reading my story. As I said, while I hope you make a purchase while you are here, if at the very least you learn something new about these wonderful animals that makes this all worthwhile.

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