Bobbi Bankston | The Mason Bar Company

July 7, 2017

When I called Bobbi to finalize the details of a partnership between CAUSEBOX and The Mason Bar Company, she apologetically put me on hold three times because she was shushing her kids and their friends in the back of her car after picking them up from school. It was a late afternoon on a Wednesday and Bobbi was running carpool and her thriving business. Bobbi Bankston is a superwoman.

She is also a creative force of nature. In addition to raising three rambunctious boys, she frequently makes time to escape to the mountains, and she’s built a business around identifying needs and meeting them while sticking to her ethical standards.

Bobbi traces her Mason Bar story back to the real estate crash. Changing industry tides led her to seek work in the restaurant field, which made it difficult for her to spend as much time as she wanted with her sons. She saw an opportunity to be her own boss in the homemade jewelry field and pursued it, even as she laughs and explains, “Which is weird, because I’m not a crafty person at all!” Her pivot toward what is now known as Mason Bar happened organically, when she and her friends were drinking iced lattes that they’d made and wondered how they could transport them in their favorite vessels without spilling while on the go

In her small, mountain community of Sonora, California, it wasn’t hard to find a friend with the necessary tools to build lids for traveling with mason jars. And just like that, a small business was formed—and grew. As the product evolved, Bobbi learned that plastic was a superior solution to the metal she’d been using, and she then learned that there was a plastic manufacturing facility a few miles from Mason Bar’s office, in the same county she grew up in. Much of the story has been a tale of friends, neighbors, and happy coincidences. With her company’s rapid growth, Bobbi is able to bring sustainable business to her hometown and support many of her favorite ethical brands.

“Take this simple, random thing—a drinking jar!—and use the platform we’ve been fortunate to build to do good and give voice to other great makers and businesses like Parker Clay. It’s so cool that my business gets to be a part of world change.”

The Mason Bar community rallies around Bobbi’s infectious energy and dedication to causes that matter to her. The same creativity that led to the original idea enables Bobbi and her team to stay involved with the brands and charities they love and keep their customers involved in a thriving community long after their shelves are stocked with mason jars and lids. Beyond the lid that started it all, Mason Bar has grown to collaborate with Parker Clay, Nena and Co., and Sole Hope on exclusive accessories for her drinkware--most prominently, drink sleeves made from the partner brands’ signature materials.

Bobbi says, “Our customers love to match their drink sleeves to their outfits and they love the way some of our collaborators tell such a clear story with the materials and patterns they produce.” Even though her brand keeps growing and keeps her busier than ever, running her own business allows Bobbi to spend precious time with her kids and to engage with the world around her.

In a later conversation, when the kids are home and she has a minute to breathe, she invites me to visit her in the foothills of Yosemite National Park, to view products being made the old fashioned way in the USA, and to stay in a perfect jumping off point for the splendor of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. And the mountains are calling, so I'll be there soon!

John is the managing editor at CAUSEBOX and a traveling writer who lives on the road with his dog, Hank.