Asa McKee, CO-Founder (he/him)
Asa has worked in the outdoor industry for over twenty years, guiding skiing and fly-fishing from Colorado to British Columbia. He has helped develop training programs and environmental policies at ski resorts, as well as participated in river clean-ups and public awareness programs.
Raised in a family that grew their own food and cultivated keen environmental awareness, when it came time to raise his own kids, Asa tuned in to both his own upbringing and the issues of the 21st century, particularly as it relates to the amount of food and landfill waste humans can produce. From this, he and wife, Tamar McKee, started making their own reusable food wraps out of beeswax and cloth, branding them 'Khala Cloths'. Their business went on to win the 2016 “Most Exciting Brand” award at the Green Festival in Portland, OR, and the 2017 Esprit Venture Challenge award.
Now, they've expanded into “Khala & Company” to offer even more natural alternatives to help people go plastic-free from the kitchen to the campsite. Asa is the co-founder and CEO of one of the most award-winning reusable food wrap companies in North America. He also serves as co-chair of the Front Range steering committee for 1% for the Planet, and is father to two amazing children who deserve to inherit a planet not drowning in plastic and food waste.
Dr. Tamar McKee, CO-Founder (she/her)
Tamar is a cultural anthropologist, museum professional, artist and entrepreneur. She was a founding curator of the contemporary Tibetan art movement, and one of the first anthropologists to pioneer ethnographic research on human-horse relationships in the 21st century. When she became a mother, she grew even more concerned not only about the impact the environment would make on her children, but what environmental imprint her growing family would make on an already-teeming planet.
Ever the researcher, Tamar began looking into what human communities used for food storage before plastic, going back in time and across cultures to discover the beeswax-treated cloth solution that became Khala Cloths. Combined with Asa’s propensity for tinkering and production, Tamar contributed - and still contributes - to the artistic and creative possibilities of Khala & Company’s products and branding as co-founder and CCO.
The artwork on Khala’s “Windows into the Still-Wild” print dedicated to commemorating the Centennial Year of the National Parks Conservation Association, and the “Among the Sunflowers” print signifying the first-ever USA-made vegan wax wrap, were all hand-painted by Tamar. When not spearheading Khala’s print design program and community relations, Tamar manages the research center at History Colorado, serves on the boards of the Boulder County Horse Association and The Arts Hub in Lafayette, and still finds time to pick up all the plastic her kids point out to her on their walks and hikes around Boulder County.
Sammy Gish (she/her)
Sammy Gish is from Vail, Colorado and is passionate about the outdoors. When she can, she spends her time skiing, hiking and climbing. Growing up in such an amazing place instilled in her a deep passion for sustaining our beloved ecosystems. Sammy is an advocate for conservation of sacred spaces and environmental justice and is currently studying Social Responsibility and Sustainable Management and Business Analytics at Leeds Business School. Sammy loves working at Khala because it gives her firsthand exposure to what it’s like to run a truly sustainable company. She loves that Khala puts an emphasis on things she cares a lot about as a consumer such as conscious sourcing.
Gwynneth Hannifin (they/them)
Gwynneth grew up in Denver, CO, going camping and hiking whenever possible – but still somehow ended up more of a water person? They enjoy swimming, scuba diving, and researching all the little critters that you can find in the water and on its edges.
They enjoy writing, video games, and historical sewing (including all its rabbit holes, like sewing techniques and the industrialization of textiles). Ever eager to learn, they ended up at Khala & CO largely because producing something sustainably and ethically is no easy feat, and they wanted to learn more about building a business like that.
After joining the Khala & CO team in October of 2020, they have since gotten involved with every level of production and are looking forward to a busy summer season! You can catch Gwynneth on the weekend combing through thrift store racks, or walking their chihuahua, Forest, at various cemeteries and parks throughout Denver.
Emily Stephens (she/her)
Emily started working for Khala & Company around October 2020 as a marketing intern. She just graduated from University of Colorado Boulder with a B.S. in Business Administration with an emphasis in marketing (she has a MAJOR creative side). She loves getting crafty in all aspects: painting, sewing or embroidery, thrifting, taking pictures and video editing, etc. (you might see her content featured on @khalacompany Instagram, shameless promotion). She also enjoys skiing, hiking, and getting outdoors into nature, traveling, and spending time with friends and family. In addition, she has a soft side for animals of all kinds, but especially LOVES puppies, cows and lizards.
Emily is a Colorado native, growing up right outside of Boulder, so it was only fitting to be working for a company founded right here! Working for Khala & Company is important for her to continue her passion for doing what’s right for us, the environment and planet’s future. She wants to make an impact no matter how small or large (Emily is a BIG believer that even the smallest changes truly still make an impact).