If you’ve grown up along the coast of Maine like Nikki and Taylor Strout, you know how important the environment is to the community. Most families depend on it for their livelihood. A working waterfront is critical to the Maine economy, and it wouldn’t be possible without a thriving marine environment.
So, when the effects of the pandemic and looming regulations started to make fishermen feel squeezed from all sides, the Strouts wanted to do something to help, and they knew sustainability had to play a big role. That’s when Taylor thought of an idea to use lobster bibs – protective overalls every lobsterman wears while fishing – in a reimagined way.
“Bibs for lobstermen are like a second skin,” said Taylor. “You can’t picture a lobsterman without a bib on. We thought if we could find a way to recycle them into new products, we could help connect the community with fishermen and their sense of sustainability while also raising funds for fishing families.”
Taylor and Nikki started Rugged Seas in 2020. They began collecting local bibs, cleaning them up and upcycling them to create custom bags. For the sale of each bag, the Strouts donate a portion of the profits to protecting fishing families, working waterfronts and the Maine way of life.
“The community response was amazing,” said Nikki. “The more we are able to connect with people and help show them the lobstermen story, the more people want to find ways to support the industry.”
The Strouts have expanded Rugged Seas since they first began, setting up bib collection sites nationwide and turning them into tote bags, wallets, backpacks and more.
As a fishing family themselves, the Strouts know the challenges lobstermen and their families can face. Missed birthdays and long stretches away are all a part of the lifestyle. And for a family of five, it’s rarely easy, but they wouldn’t trade it for anything.
“If we didn’t live this lifestyle, it would be impossible for us to run our business,” said Nikki. “Our mission is to support fishing families by highlighting the hard work these men and women put in day in and day out and sharing the sense of sustainability that is ingrained in each and every lobsterman.”
What is your favorite way to eat Maine Lobster?
“Lobster bake on the beach with fresh Maine corn, steamers and lots of butter!” – Taylor Strout
What is the best part of living in Maine?
“There are endless opportunities to be outside. From skiing to fishing, there is always something to do and a way to stay active.” – Taylor Strout
What makes you proud to go to work every day?
“I’m proud to know that I am following in the footsteps of my father and the many fishermen before me that have built the community where I grew up.” – Taylor Strout
What is special to you about Maine Lobster or the Maine Lobster fishery?
“The Maine Lobster fishery has given me everything that I have today. From my father raising us in the fishery to me coming back to the fishery after college and then raising my family as a fishing family… it all started with the Maine Lobster fishery.” – Taylor Strout
Meet The People Behind the Fishery
A diverse group of people passionate about Maine and the lobster industry.