12/30/10

Happy New Year!

Holy. Cow.  2010 has been a helluva year.  On a good note, lots of great stuff - like expanding production in Ohio and getting a chance to pitch to the Sharks on the TV show SHARK TANK- has made the year a phenomenal one.  On the flip side and on a personal note, we've endured my husband's layoff and my mom and grandmother's cancer diagnosis and treatment.  I don't think we've ever had a year where there were so many drastic highs and lows. One thing I know for sure, 2011 is really going to be a pivotal year in our lives.  

I'm so very grateful for your support and encouragement over the past four years.  I've met so many wonderful people from all over the world through writing about Mod Mom Furniture.  I now have dear friends that I've never met in person.  Friends that comment on posts and send messages that have no doubt kept me building and sawing on those days when it seemed like the best option was to just hang it all up.

All my love and best wishes go out to you and your families.  I hope you know just how much you've influenced my life and kept me positive.

Happy New Year!

12/14/10

Babybot

A few years ago, a lovely woman by the name of Renee from Calgary ordered an Owyn Toy Box for her daughter.  She was one of the first from Canada to order. Fast forward to now, and this amazing woman who has killer taste is the co-owner of Babybot, Canada's premiere place to go for all things modern kid.

She just placed her second order from me for Babybot consisting of  seven toy boxes:  3 Maude Toy Boxes, 2 Riley Paige, and 2 Owyn.

Check them out!  They have toy boxes IN STOCK -- no waiting!  And they're really cool people running an awesome store.

And join their Facebook page to keep up with lots of deals and special offers!  



11/18/10

Entrepreneur Spotlight: Patrick Caneday: Damn Good Writer

 Patrick Caneday, also known as surrogate parent to my daughter Grace when her mom is busy building in the garage, is my very talented writer neighbor-friend.  He has a column in Burbank Leader as well as the Glendale Press  called SMALL WONDERS.  He's too modest to tell you that his writing is really, really good.  In fact, so good that Al Martinez, a Pulitzer Prize winning Los Angeles Times newspaper columnist said this about Patrick's book:

"I love Patrick Caneday's work. He seeks out the humanity in us and writes about it in the kind of seamless prose that any author would envy, in a style that only a few can achieve. I have always looked forward to reading his columns and now I have them at hand to consider them in pleasure. Thanks, Patrick, for the immensity of the gift you have given us and continue to give."

Patrick is raising money to self-publish his book Crooked Little Birdhouse: Random Thoughts on Being Human and is doing it in such a cool way.  Through Kickstarter, he's trying to raise $2,500 in 30 days and if that $2,500 isn't raised in 30 days, he gets nothing.  It's literally all or nothing.  He put together a fantastic video explaining what he's trying to do as well as what you, the very gracious donation giver, gets when you make a pledge.  Please take a moment to get to know Patrick and his writing....

Check out the link HERE:


11/17/10

Mod Mom Furniture Hats, Courtesy of Mod Mom Furniture's Dad

My awesome dad showed up at the airport when I was home inking the deal with the Amish manufacturer wearing one of the twelve hats he had made locally in Defiance, Ohio. 

My hat is off to my very cool, very sweet, CZAR of MOD MOM FURNITURE EAST. 

Love ya, Dad!


11/6/10

ATTENTION: BIG NEWS!!! REALLY BIG NEWS!!!

While some things have stayed the same in our little Hathcock family life (I'm still the messy one, Scott's still the clean one, he's still out of work, etc.) lots of other things are changing for the better!  First off, before you get all "OMG I KNOW WHAT HAPPENED ON SHARK TANK" because of what I'm about to write, let me just say that it has nothing to do with Shark Tank other than the ball started rolling when I was prepping for the show/pitch.  In no way did the outcome of my Shark Tank pitch have to do with this amazing news.....

I am moving manufacturing of the toy boxes (and eventual bedroom collections) OUT of my garage and into an Amish furniture manufacturer in Ohio!  Here's why this is unbelievably great all around - for me and for my customers/retailers:

  • I'm from Ohio so the thought of putting money back into the state and keeping manufacturing here in the US thrills me beyond belief. 

  • Ray Yoder, Jr., owner of L&J Woodworking, is equally as excited about this partnership as I am.  His shop, which employs 17 workers, is known for quality and Ray is a gem of a person. We actually have a lot in common as he started his business from his small workshop years ago. He'll be doing something few Amish furniture makers do which is make modern furniture

  • Each piece will still be eco-friendly, look the same as if I made them in my garage using eco-friendly Baltic Birch ply, and will be built by skilled craftsman who've been building furniture A LOT longer than I have. The finishes on the pieces are incredible!!  He's also able to do some things that I can't do.  Like use a router.  Damn thing scares me to death.
     
  • I can only build three toy boxes per week. Any more than that means I don't see my kids, my husband, I don't shower, and I am in a constant state of building.  Ray and his team can build 50, 100, even 1000 per week, if need be.

  • The average wait time for a new order (until the order ships out) is normally 12 weeks.  People are waiting 3 months for a toy box currently.  With L&J manufacturing, clients/retailers will only have to wait 4-5 weeks for a handmade, US-made, eco-friendly toy box

  • The pricing will remain the same because he can build them for roughly the same cost as what I pay to build them in my old garage.  Most furniture companies have to resort to manufacturing in China, Brazil, etc and shipping the goods back to the US.  I'm so happy that I can keep the pricing the same, continue to have a quality product, AND keep it in the United States. :)
With the manufacturing in place, I'll finally be able to stop turning retailers away from all over the world. I've had to keep my retailer list small because I feared I would run my business into the ground since it was just me building everything.

I can't quite believe Mod Mom is where it is today.  I'm so grateful for your support and encouragement over the past 3 1/2 years.  There were a few times when I thought I wouldn't make it, physically and emotionally.  And I'm so glad I didn't throw in the towel.  

When I was standing there in Ray's office saying goodbye, his eighteen-yr-old daughter came in to tell me how much she loves my designs and that when she has children, she wants one for her kids.  It's so amazing to know that the designs resonate with so many people across all different walks of life.  It makes me realize that my crazy idea to build furniture in my garage wasn't so crazy after all.  Well, maybe just a little crazy. 

A shot of the shop from the road.

Just a shot of a tiny portion of some of the work that is ready to ship out. 

One part of the massive workshop + massive warehouse.  The staining station.

See the tall thin looking things in the back.  All of his equipment is powered by steam. No electricity.

They finishing station using a sprayer.  My finishing station is in my living room next to the couch.

10/19/10

I'm alive!

So you know from my previous post that I was buried in Shark Tank prep but filming is over and I'm knee-deep in saw dust again. If my segment gets picked to air, I should know before it does so I'll keep you posted for sure! The new season of Shark Tank starts again in January 2011 on ABC primetime.

Now, back to normal everyday stuff. Like the fact that a big Hollywood celeb recently purchased two toy boxes from me. I know, that's not really fair because it's not normal but it's fun to write. :) I'm continuing to plug away on orders and settle back into family life. Took one day off yesterday to get a massage (thanks Katie and Scott) and regain my strength. I'm so glad I did because I feel back to full furniture-building strength again. I'm settling back into family life again, too. My poor kids and husband have been without a mom/wife for the past month. Thank goodness for husbands who cook, clean, grocery shop, do homework, polyurethane boxes, shuttle kids to and from school. No doubt I picked a good one back in 1997.

More adventures to come from Mod Mom but for now, I have to get back to power tools and saw dust.

10/1/10

Weekend Update with Kiersten

I'm literally writing this with one of those plastic caps over my head that you use when you highlight your own hair. So if I don't burn off all of my luscious dark-rooted/blond/light brown hair, it's going to be a fab weekend. ( Remember this post about my in-salon hair color disaster?)

It's been awhile since I've written on this here blog but I have a million good reasons. Life has been all over the place lately. Good with the bad. Highs with the lows. To start, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. My dad beat a rare form of cancer near his eye more than ten years ago and my grandmother is battling lung cancer now so I feel like it's targeting the Parsons clan. I know it's not and I know she'll battle through but it really stinks being so far away from her.

Scott is closer to a job which is fantastic!! Fingers, toes, and well, everything, crossed. I've been hunkered down in Shark Tank prep mode as well as everyday Mod Mom business stuff. (I'll know soon if I made the final list but there's a lot I won't be able to share per my contract.) Expansion plans are moving in the right direction and I'm feeling like all the hard work will pay off sooner than later. A very large furniture retailer contacted me about selling my products and I'm busy filling out their paperwork. There are about twelve different roles they wanted contact names for and I was almost laughing because here's how it went down: Customer Service: Kiersten. Sales Rep: Kiersten. Logistics: Kiersten. Accounting: Kiersten. Manufacturing: Kiersten. Marketing/PR: Kiersten. It's a good thing I have all these people working for me. Thinking I'll give each one a raise.

Signing off for now because my hair will soon fall out if I don't get this cap off.

UPDATE: Only a few hairs came out. Operation blond highlights was a success!!

9/17/10

Riley Paige - Pretty Custom Patterns




My client hit the jackpot with her choice of patterns for the Riley Paige I built for her. Look how GORGEOUS this turned out!




9/16/10

READ THIS BLOG: katie hatch [design]



If you're a fan of really smart, witty business and/or design blogs, check out Katie's blog: http://www.katie-hatch.blogspot.com/. She just launched it this week and shared information on the NEW BIG COLOR FOR 2011 as well as "How to Run Your Business Like Pottery Barn - Wall Street Insider Info."

Here's Katie in a nutshell (via her blog profile)....

I'm a furniture designer. I'm a businesswoman. I am a firm believer that designers are 'problem solvers', & that 'innovation' is a requirement of any good design, not just a buzz word. I follow trends, and forecast opportunities. A voracious reader, pod-cast listener, and blog reader. Globe trekker immersing myself in local cultures and languages while sourcing products. Mid-Century Modern Fanatic. Idiosyncratic Mind. Dog lover.


I think she left out "really open, giving, thoughtful person" but she's not one to brag. So I'll do that for her.

9/3/10

Bangs

At 1:30am the other night, I. CUT. BANGS. Not hard core Heidi Klum bangs but just enough to make me feel like I was making a huge change, breaking a pattern. The bonus is that they cover the ever-deepening worry lines on my forehead. It's one of those things you do, and while you're doing it, you feel like a superhero. Like the bangs are gonna change my world. Here's what I'm convinced these new bangs will do:

1. ...will bring about a new job for Scott,
2. ...a mass manufacturer for Mod Mom Furniture,
3. ...a quick answer to whether or not our daughter has a learning disability,
4. ...an easy transition for my son in his new school
5. ...bring world peace.

Oh, and lastly, make the SHARK TANK casting process go smoothly. So far, in the two minutes since I received the "Congrats you made it to the second round of casting for SHARK TANK" email, I'm NOT FEELING THE POWER OF THE BANGS so much. DAMMIT, BANG POWER...ACTIVATE!!

Shorter, maybe they need to be shorter.

8/19/10

Tug of War

If I've learned one thing from numerous lay-offs, it's that one can't possibly be optimistic and hopeful every day. It's not natural. There's a tug of war in my head these days. The side that's pulling hardest lately is the one wearing a t-shirt that says POWERLESS. For most of the past three weeks, the WE SHALL OVERCOME side was winning.

There's no two ways around it. I feel rather powerless right now. When we made the decision back in 2003 that I would quit my well-paying corporate marketing job in Chicago and we'd make the move to a city that wasn't so expensive (not LA) so that at least one parent was a constant in our kids' lives, I never would've imagined the road we were destined to travel would be so full of massive sink holes. But it hadn't occurred to me that the economy would lose its footing either.

As so many women (and men) know, making that decision to step out of your ten year career to care for your kids is a really tough one. I agonized over whether or not I'd even be good at being a stay at home mom and when I finally did, the adjustment was brutal but I found my way. Carving out a new career was both exhilarating and exhausting and I couldn't be happier with the success of Mod Mom Furniture, but at times like these, I can't help but compare salaries and know that mine falls far behind what I was making before I left my marketing job. We're in that catch twenty-two stage of life where even if I went back to work full-time and did Mod Mom at nights and weekends, I couldn't even come close to making what Scott has been earning now that he's been climbing the ladder since 1994. And that brings us back to powerless.

I won't lie and say I haven't, at times, wished we'd just stayed in Chicago and I kept working at A&E and The History Channel while my kids were in daycare from 7am-6pm. But I've also learned through our ups and downs that it's ultimately what was planned out for us from the start. Life lessons and all.

We're definitely growing and learning from this latest lay-off in many ways we didn't from the last one. I'm trying to acknowledge the feelings of fear and lack of power but not let it always win the tug of war. I think you have to be allowed to feel what's real in order to work through it so I'm doing just that. Today I feel rather POWERLESS but tomorrow I plan on being back on the WE SHALL OVERCOME side tugging away.

8/18/10

Kind Words

I've been really blessed to have wonderful clients over the past four years. Some of them send me notes after receiving their toy boxes so I thought I'd share a few of them...


"Thank you so much - we just received the Owyn box today, and it is absolutely beautiful! We know that we'll be enjoying it for many years to come. Nara loves the puzzle element to the covers, and that's keeping her quite busy already. Our #2 kiddo is arriving this fall, so don't be surprised if you hear from me sometime with a request for a second one."


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"I got the toy box today! I love it, and thank you. Just in time for the holiday weekend & it looks great in my game room. The kids LOVE it, and the craftsmanship is lovely. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend you to my friends."



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"Just wanted to let you know that the toy box arrived right on schedule, in perfect condition and has been completely filled with Sebastian's stuff... (how did my 4 1/2 month old manage to accumulate so many toys already? oh right, grandparents) Thanks for designing and making such a lovely item. I have to admit I sort of hope he'll someday decide it is "too babyish" to have even a repurposed toybox in his room so that I can appropriate it to store blankets or sweaters!"


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"Absolutely incredible craftsmanship! We LOVE this piece. Great customer service, quick response time and just a really great transaction all the way around! Love love love it!"

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"This box is beautiful beyond description. It's flawless and very well made. I love the fact that it's built by a mom, who knows kids better than mom themselves. This will definitely be one of few heirloom pieces in my family. Thanks Kiersten for such gorgeous work." (Owyn Toy Box)

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"I absolutely LOVE this toy box and am so happy I bought it in anticipation of the arrival of my little one! It is a beautifully crafted piece and will provide a fun and functional place to store toys. Kiersten was great to communicate with. I highly recommend this Etsy seller! Thank you again Kiersten!" (Owyn Toy Box)







8/6/10

600 Hundred Facebook Fans or Bust!


I know the last post was all down in the dumps but this one promises to be fun and happy!

I'm trying to get 600 Facebook Fans and need your help! When I reach the 600 mark, I'll draw from the folks who are fans (or clicked "LIKE") on Facebook and the lucky winner will receive a FREE custom, keepsake box!! I'll work with said winner to come up with a design that works for them. As usual, it will be eco-friendly and made by these two aging but capable hands.

BECOME A FAN HERE!
To become a fan, simply follow this link: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Los-Angeles-CA/Mod-Mom-Furniture/121337859389?ref=ts

A few examples of boxes I've designed in the past...















8/1/10

Roller Coasters vs. Merry-Go-Rounds


When it comes to a mechanical ride, I'm all for roller coasters. I'm kind of a speed junkie. I actually like that feeling you get when you're at the top of that first unbelievably steep hill and you start the million-mile-an-hour descent where your stomach goes into your throat. You have no idea how happy I am that my kids like that feeling too. They are both coaster junkies like their mom.

When it comes to other kinds of roller coasters, like the one where your husband just got a promotion three months ago but suddenly, out-of-nowhere, you're being thrown out of the coaster car because the company is eliminating the position in order to go in a different direction, I have an entirely different reaction. We've become, for the third time in seven years, that family you hear and read about in the news. I know there are so many families out there like us right now and I'm sending you all love and hope that tomorrow's ride will be that of a slow-moving, steady, reliable, merry-go-round. It doesn't blindside you when you least expect it and dump you out with the promise of just one month's salary. The merry-go-round is so calming, predictable and steady like a friend that sits with you and pats your back and tells you everything will be OK.

I know we will be OK. We'll make it happen the way other families make it happen. But as rides go, for now, I think I'll just go get in line for the merry-go-round. Or maybe even that small kiddie train at the zoo that goes about two miles an hour around a track that appears to be the size of a small car. That's more my speed now. Nothing fancy. Nothing flashy. Just something that says, "Come ride me. I won't hurt you."

UPDATE: Good news is there's a margarita/beer cart right next to the kiddie train so things are really starting to look up! Fun but stable. Now that's the ticket. :)

I think she wants to be a teacher now....




....but back in kindergarten, she was well on her way to be a frnsi dsiner.

7/24/10

Smile


(kiersten, 2nd grade)


(grace, 2nd grade)

It's beyond me where she got her smile. No doubt her overly excited, OMG-I'm-going-to-Disneyland-smile is from her father.

I wonder when that fake smile thing ended for me? I mean, occasionally, I see it in photos but just not as pronounced. It's more of a "take the damn picture" smile. These days, the dog days of summer, there are loads of smiles from my kids. What with the above ground plastic swimming pool and the trampoline, they're in kid heaven. I'm enjoying not having to rush them out the door (except for summer camp days -- god, I love those days) in the morning and deal with all the homework stuff, lunch money that I forget to give sometimes, and fundraisers. I'm still working away in my garage and am prepping for a possible writing/video gig for a very cool online site so for me, it's a bit business as usual. But for them, I see all the tension from the structured life they lead during the school year melt away. It's great when you can see your kids happy and stress-free. I'm proud to say the full-blown open mouth smiles are everywhere but dang it if I don't love the one you see above.

7/11/10

Summer Camp!

So I'm all better now and completely bitch-free, I promise! The life of a work-from-home mom is what it is -- most of the time great, some of the time a real pain in the arse.

The main reason I'm so chipper, you ask?!? SUMMER CAMP. 9am-4pm will be mine, all mine for five glorious days. Work will occur, of course, but I am going to take some time to do very important, high brow, things like see Twilight: ECLIPSE.

YAY SUMMER CAMP!!!

7/9/10

One Moment At A Time

Sometimes perspective sucks. And is very hard to find when you're completely overwhelmed. I was so zen just a couple of days ago but now I'm feeling in over my head with this whole work-from-home thing while trying to parent my kids. Like many parents, today I just bribed them with donuts and then banished them to their rooms for hours upon hours of DSI and Wii playing while I sand-n-saw away in my garage.

I will power through. I will take a shower sometime in the next 24 hours. And I will eventually get perspective back but for now I'm just gonna feel overwhelmed, bitchy, and dirty. Not the good kind of dirty either.

P.S. I'm writing this while on my lunch break from saw dust.

7/6/10

One Day At A Time (Not the TV Show)

You know that feeling where you start thinking about loads of stuff you have to do and somewhere inside, your emotions form a ball that starts rolling and picking up speed and eventually you know that ball is going to crash straight into your husband who didn't know you had this sphere of anxiety and can't figure out why you've suddenly turned bad on him? Maybe it's just me but that's how I feel sometimes when I know I'm faced with a to-do list that unfolds like a scroll. I started to get that feeling last night because we're back in town now after being away for a week and a half. Last night I did something I've never done before whilst in the middle of a complete high-speed downhill run. I stopped it. Not sure how I did it but I suspect is has something to do with pulling that lovely little red emergency bar called perspective.

On our trip, we visited my grandmother, Theda, who is battling lymphoma. To see her struggle to breathe was agony. She's never been sick; never even had a hospital stay. What I saw in her eyes was a mix of suffering and determination. She said she's really just taking everything one day at a time and for a woman who's always planned, plotted, volunteered, and worn out her walking shoes on a daily basis, that in itself is a very big deal. After we had already left, she underwent another procedure which cleared away a blockage so she's now able to move and breathe more freely without exhaustion. Every part of me is relieved to know she's able to now do, or partially do, the things she's loved doing and will have more time to do them before her next chemotherapy/radiation treatment. She'll have a little bit of that life back that she's had for all these years.

So today, I'm going to build some toy boxes, be with my family, and thank Grandma for stopping that damn ball.