"Sunburned lips and shredded tips, multipitch routes and bouldering hoots, dirty faces and campfire races....THIS is the GneissLife. This story of what it means to climb—for the scare, the glory, the thrill, the laughs—this is is what makes us feel alive, what keeps us climbing, and what makes us happy.”
Jack and Amanda Schuler—Colorado-based Gneiss Apparel Supply Co. founders, designers, new parents—have at times encountered moments that have tested their resolve to climb, but in each instance remember that the end reward outweighs the initial effort. In climbing, and in life, these two have taken that approach to everything: the adventure of the journey is a formative experience, contributing to who they become as people to create the reality that they want.
Selfie in the South Platte
This entrepreneurial couple isn’t your average outdoorsy pair: they both put in their time at design agencies before traveling the world and resettling in Colorado to explore, start a family, and focus on integrating their love of beautiful, meaningful design with the climbing lifestyle that forms a large part of their collective identity.
The journey to form Gneiss wasn’t so straightforward, however. Through a serendipitous and circuitous series of events, these two met post-college through a parental connection (that admittedly evoked an “Ugh, Dad!” moment from Amanda when her father encouraged her to reach out for post-design school advice from Jack) and began their outdoor exploits on a whim after meeting in Denver for one fateful Valentine’s Day date in 2009.
A graduate of the prestigious ArtCenter College of Design, Jack had burned out from city life and a tremendous workload in Los Angeles, “pack[ing] everything I could into my Jeep and [driving] it straight back to Colorado.” This return to his home state would be pivotal for Jack’s professional, climbing, and romantic future: over the course of just a few years, his freelance career would take off and, meeting Amanda, they’d become Colorado outdoor addicts together.
Views from a favorite camping spot in the Lost Creek Wilderness
With excursions from Rocky Mountain National Park to the South Platte—spending a particularly large amount of time in Devil’s Head and the Lost Creek Wilderness—Jack and Amanda explored the Centennial State, thirsty for new experiences:
Over the years we’ve explored new types of climbing, and with each transition—going from the gym to outdoor sport and now to trad—we fall in love with the sport in a new way. Each change has its challenges, of course, and can be pretty terrifying in the beginning, but it also makes it that much more of a thrill when you finally get the hang of it.
Amanda taping up for Scorpio Crack
The Schulers' home away from home
The shift between climbing types didn’t come without a cost, though—because for every epic memory, there are an equal number of epics that got buried in their shared subconscious. Amanda and Jack’s term, “Schuler Adventure Times,” describes just this sentiment—as well as Gneiss’ approach to lifestyle products as a celebration of self:
"We're all about celebrating adventurous spirits and the endless thirst for more. It's about long days and getting scared. It's heinous approaches, enjoying sun and friends, getting dirty, and shredding tips. It's the thrill of finally doing what seemed impossible! This is what we really love about climbing and what we want to celebrate with everything we do."
What adventure is complete without some good ol' bushwhacking?
After a wet hike out from a climb
Unexpected snow storms led to camping in the back of their SUV
If not for Schuler Adventure times (i.e. when Amanda learned to lead at Parachute Rock), these two wouldn’t have known the mettle of their true grit and their commitment to each other, climbing, and exploring the stuff of which they’re really made.
The two climbing in Devil's Head, a favorite / Photo: Mark Billesbach
Climbing and Colorado had these two hooked, though, and together they began to develop a shared vision: first, with through-hiking the Colorado Trail, next with starting a life together that meshed their love of the outdoors with an expression of creativity speaking to the tenacity, resolve, and inspiration that moves their friends in the outdoors community.
Through-hiking was an epic undertaking (another story for another time), but with that experience bookended with a trip to Cambodia, Amanda quit her job to join Jack in the freelancing life. At some point, they both saw “a need for well-designed lifestyle clothing for climbers, mountaineers, and general outdoor enthusiasts. Freelancing gave us the time to develop the brand. We started out designing the shirts, a bunch of them….” and from there, Gneiss Apparel Supply Co. was born.
“Our ultimate goal is freedom. Freedom to spend life the way we want to, to have more time for our daughter, to not be tied down.” Jack’s words echo the approach many of us see in our own lives. To thrive and grow as individuals, in our relationships, and in support of the communities that help define who we are, the Gneiss ethic promotes the indomitable spirit that characterizes the experience of the everyday climber and adventurer.
Jack finishing a climb in the South Platte
Not surprisingly, Gneiss tees are tailored to a lifestyle as easily appropriate in a meeting as around a campfire or in a squeeze chimney. Amanda: “[Our] shirts...are super soft, easy to move in, and breathable. We...paid special attention to the printing process and carefully chose methods for each of the designs that would result in the most comfortable/breathable end result possible.”
Taking their designs back to the foundation where they got their start, Gneiss will build off their initial appearance at Boulder’s Reel Rock 10, sponsoring 2016’s Reel Rock 11 showing in Denver on September 17.
Have fun. Make time. Be Gneiss.
Interview date: June 2016
To learn more, contact Jack or Amanda
Guest interviewer: Dani Reyes-Acosta