Woman Owned and Operated – Meet Rhonda Swenson Owner/Designer
Krimson Klover founder Rhonda Swenson knows a thing or two about sweaters. No surprise, considering the nearly 30 years of work she’s put into creating them. A knitter from a very young age, Rhonda has always had a feel for quality yarn and great craftsmanship. In fact, she’s even earned the nickname “Sweater Girl” among the locals in her hometown of Boulder, Colorado — a name that’s cute, but doesn’t do justice to the true nature of this generous, passionate, sophisticated, and accomplished woman.
Rhonda’s story starts in 1985, when she was working as a flight attendant for American Airlines, a job she took to offset the cost of visiting her Australian boyfriend. In her travels, she met a woman who owned a boutique sweater company. They hit it off, and before long Rhonda was traveling to South America to help oversee the sweater production. “The knitters work was incredible. These women left a piece of their soul in each sweater they created,” she says of the skilled craftswomen she met on the job. Soon she was designing sweaters and within three years, she’d bought the company. The rest is history.
After nearly three decades in the sweater business and three successful brands later, Rhonda has never looked back. Originally from Austin, Texas, the passionate traveler says she inherited her wanderlust from her mother‚ but it’s her father who taught her to embrace life in the moment. And that’s exactly the spirit she’s trying to create with her designs for Krimson Klover. “Our clothes are easy — they look great and make you feel great,” she says, which leaves more time for hiking, skiing, entertaining, and traveling — or all of the above. “Life isn’t only about work,” Rhonda says. “People need to get out there and live life.”
Below, we get inspired by Rhonda’s favorite places in the world, her wardrobe staples and her advice to aspiring entrepreneurs.
Other than here in Krimson Klover’s home base of Boulder, what are the top five places you’d rather be?
1. Walking through the Serengeti. My brother owns a walking safari company called Mark Thornton Safaris that has exclusive rights to parts of the Serengeti that aren’t open to the public. You can walk for days and days and not see another person.
2. Hiking through the Cypress trees in Beirut’s Chouf Mountains. My other brother married a Lebanese woman so we flew there for the wedding, and no place has surpassed it for me. It was one of the most beautiful places I’d ever visited.
3. Essaouira in Morocco. It’s like stepping back into the 1950s: a hip, rad California-style beach.
4. Skiing in the Alps. My favorite thing to do is ski from hut to hut in the Bernese Oberland — it’s so incredible.
5. I’m on Habitat for Humanity’s Eagle Country International board and lead a build every year. We’ve been to Cambodia, Nepal, and Malawi. This year we’re going to El Salvador and I just can’t wait!
What’s your go-to outfit?
I love my Krimson Klover Raven dress. It’s an Andean textile dress that hits just above the knee and looks super cute with my Lucchese cowboy boots. It’s easy, it’s not fussy, it fits really well, and it makes me feel really good.
Walk us through your typical morning.
I wake up at 6am and work with my factories for a couple of hours since they’re in Asia. For breakfast, I eat a couple of eggs or a make a green smoothie. I’m a big coffee drinker but can only tolerate one cup per day! Then I take my Australian Shepherd, River, for a walk. If i’m up in Vail, then get to do all of this while looking at Vail mountain, but in Boulder I live downtown, so I walk to work, which I love.
What’s your best advice for aspiring business owners?
It takes a certain personality type to start a business. I’m a crazy risk taker. You know, jump in with both feet, figure it out later. So if you’re starting your own business? Just GO for it. It’s easy to have an idea, but you won’t know if you can make something out of it unless you do something about it. I’m of the mindset that failure is just not an option, so just keep going. You can always figure out a way around an obstacle.