Lessons Learned

2011 is a year that will stand out in my mind as a year of major change and growth.  Some of it is really so unbelievable that I keep finding myself looking back in awe of how life unfolds.  Through the highs and the lows, I've learned so much about myself and life in general that I know I can never go back.

I've always been a hard worker (credit to my parents) who grew up thinking that if I worked really, really hard, I can make things happen.  And to a huge degree, I believe this works.  It's worked for me in terms of my business/career.  But I've also come to believe there are no coincidences and that sometimes, no matter how hard you work, if it's not in the cards, it's just not in the cards. And that in itself happens for a reason. We've endured four layoffs/pay cuts since 2003.  Obviously, that's a lot of stress on a marriage and on a family.  It's so hard to put into words the kind of fear you feel when you're faced with worrying about paying for food/heat/housing. Unless you've lived through it, it's very difficult to grasp.  You're thrown into a panic state-of-mind which doesn't allow you to really trust that it's all playing out the way it's supposed to and that there's a bigger plan in place.  It took a lot of work for me to balance my "go-getter, make-it-happen, work hard, OMG we're gonna have to live in my parents basement if things don't change!"mode that I'm used to operating in with my more faith-based, intuitive side that was screaming at me to trust without proof.   This year has been all about that balance and releasing the fear.  Turns out, I'm equal parts analytical and intuitive.  Only now, I let the intuitive side call the shots more.

In 2011, we endured losses on all fronts.  Jobs. Friends. Loved Ones.  It was so difficult, and still is to some degree, to understand why giving all that you have at a particular moment isn't enough.  On a cognitive level, I may never really be able to wrap my brain around it.  But in my heart and spirit, I know that what is meant to be will be. Even if it doesn't make sense and is terribly painful at the time.  I'm learning to release old wounds, pains, and fears but at the same time, be thankful I endured them. We've been lucky to have found wonderful friends over the years, even those with whom we no longer communicate.  Those friendships shaped us and made us who we are today. 

In 2011, we also received so many gifts in the form of amazing family support, friendships we cherish, "gifts" that virtually came out of nowhere, a deeper understanding of what it means to have faith, and more time with our precious, amazing kids.  I don't want to leave out the other brave children that have taught me so much about life and courage.  One in particular, by the name of Amber, will always have a place in my heart.  While I know she believes I helped her immensely, I want her to know it is really the other way around.

While I know 2012 will bring more challenges on a global level; more than we've seen in years. I know I'm in a better place to handle whatever our little pocket of the world endures. Turns out for me, balance is truly the key.  But not the kind of balance most moms talk about when juggling work and kids.  The kind of balance that forces you to listen more carefully to your intuition and know that whatever happens, it will all be OK.
**I'm going to take a bit of time off starting this Friday to spend the holidays with my family.  Unless there's a "wood emergency," I promise to get back to an email or phone call after the New Year.  Of course, orders will still be taken and customer service questions/issues answered right away. :)** 



Mom Of The Year FORGOT to attend a school function on Friday for Grace.  Every year, her elementary school has an All School Picnic where parents can come for lunch and hang out on the lawn with their kids.  I've managed to make every one of them since 2006 but this year was different.  I just plain forgot.  I even had it scheduled in my Blackberry to remind me but the damn device must also feel like it's on overload because it locked up prior to noon and rebooted itself long after the event was over, when the buzzer for "All School Picnic" rang out loud and clear.  My heart sank picturing Grace at school sobbing because neither parent showed up when we made it clear one of us would be there.  Turns out, she was tear-less (until she saw me after school, of course), happy, and running around with friends.  Oh, and sometime before the end of the one-hour picnic, she had enough time to make a Christmas card that said, "You Ditched Me."  I couldn't have written it better myself.  All I could say was, "I'm so sorry.  I screwed up."  I, of course, felt horrible that I unintentionally ditched my third grader but I have to say, it did make me think about this overload mode I'm spending more and more time in.

As you know from a previous post, I'm homeschooling my 7th grader until the end of this school year due to unforeseen circumstances.  In all honesty, it's something I NEVER saw myself doing but it's going pretty well so far and knowing that we both understand it's just until the end of May, we make it work.  Then in between all of that, I'm managing all aspects of Mod Mom Furniture which includes marketing, invoicing, order intake, operations, growth, international distribution, taxes, some finishing of toy boxes, and all the media stuff.  Holy cow, keeping up social media alone is a full-time job.   And now you see why even my Blackberry said, "screw it - it's too much."

Every year since 2007, I work my tail off through Christmas, barely taking a day off even though the kids are off school. I'm not saying this to sound all "higher than thou."  It's just a fact that if you run your own business, you have to do it all. And last year,  I had to do all of the production as well.  This year will be different.  I'm learning that I can't control the economy or how quickly Mod Mom Furniture grows in light of the economy so I'm giving up control.  Letting the universe take over in that department.  And I'm letting go of the pressure to make all the right moves.  Clearly, I'm messing up left and right anyhow (i.e., you ditched me) so I'm embracing that and learning from it.

The State of Overload is a crappy place to live. I'm vowing that as soon as my kids are officially off school, so am I.  I've never done that in all my years of working. I'm going to service the immediate needs of my company but first and foremost, I'm going to do fun stuff with my family, bake cookies, watch movies, spend time with friends, and in general, just let it all go. I'm ditching the little voice that says, "But you have to keep going to get ahead or everything will fall apart. People are counting on you."

This morning, as Grace was walking out the door to school with Scott, she called out to me "Don't forget this (pointing to herself) today after school." "I won't, hon," I shot back. Partially because I'm moving out of overload and partially because I've set three very loud alarms to remind me to pick her up at 2:55pm. 
The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.
~ Elbert Hubbard


Things that run, reveal, inspire by Hayley Strandberg

Things that run, reveal, and inspire

By Hayley Strandberg @ www.chalkboardsandsandcastles.wordpress.com

One of the things I like most about running is that it doesn’t require a lot of things.  All you really need is a pair of running shoes. It is the best sport for minimalists.

Once you start running regularly, however, it’s easy to get caught up in the stuff, and once you start training for a marathon, it’s even easier to start buying extras – fancy watches, socks, bras, etc. I’ve certainly made my share of unnecessary trips to local sporting goods stores.

When I was getting suited up to run the ING NYC marathon earlier this month, I made the bold decision to leave the deluxe water belt that I had trained with at home. I had started to feel that the belt was weighing me down. At first, I loved the belt because it stayed secure just above my hips and made me feel like a serious runner. But a month before the race, I found myself fidgeting with the belt a lot, wanting to take it off but anxious to lose easy access to water. Though it had been giving me problems, the belt was a kind of security blanket that I didn’t want to let go of.

In a pair of sunglasses, running shoes and a Mod Mom Furniture t-shirt I ran the best race of my life, finishing the 26.2 in 3:57. I didn’t need the belt at all and received all of the water and Gatorade I needed from the thousands of volunteers and spectators that came out to support and help. I received even more than I imagined from smiling Brooklyn five-year-olds and affectionate Manhattan canines.

“Go Hayley, Go Traci!” the crowds cheered directly to me and my friend, who wisely decided we should put our names on our shirts. The first 13 miles didn’t even feel like a marathon, we discussed after. The energy of the spectators seemed to magically propel us toward the finish (at least for a while - at mile 25 we breathlessly watched Mario Lopez blow past us). I had never felt so close to strangers or so much part of a city as I did that day.

In the photo above, Traci and I proudly sport our finisher’s medals. For the next day, I was reluctant to take the medal off. I had worked so hard, and it made my achievement concrete. I also love that it’s something that connects Traci and I with the 48,000 runners that raced that day.

I’m not sure where the medal is now. But a few weeks after the race, my finish still feels sweet. I took off the medal and have spent the past few weeks living a life that feels strange and unfamiliar because I’m no longer training for a big race. But it also feels nice, light and full of possibility.

Since the marathon, I’ve gone to a few concerts, tried new restaurants and recipes, and got caught up with The Good Wife. I’ve been dreaming of getting a dog and learning how to play the guitar. I started writing a novel. Last Sunday, I sat down with a Sunday New York Times for two hours.

Sometimes, opening up new possibilities means making space – moving things around, leaving things at home, and putting things away.

Other times, opening up new possibilities means creating space — bringing things together, making things at home, and putting on a tool belt.

Kiersten Parsons Hathcock, Los Angeles-based owner of Mod Mom Furniture, constructs possibility for a living. Her beautiful, contemporary toy boxes invite wonder. They are playful, functional, sophisticated and innovative.

A self-taught designer and carpenter, Kiersten created a thriving business from her garage. With fierce determination and inspiring imagination, she’s carved out a life and a product that are, quite literally, full of possibility. In New York, I proudly wore a MMF shirt across the finish line and am convinced its Mod Mom magic helped me dig deep into my potential to get there.

I’ve been reading a lot of minimalist blogs recently that have made me skeptical of the things that surround me. “You don’t need things” the bloggers say.

It’s true – there are few things in life that we really need and it can be liberating to get rid of things we don’t need. But like Kiersten’s furniture, things are beautiful products of the human hand and spirit.  Literature’s most famous castaway Robinson Crusoe naturally took to making things. It was making pottery that helped Crusoe survive in solitude for 28 years; there’s something primal about the creating things.

Things, in turn, seem to reveal something essential about us. Perhaps the things that create the most problems are those that don’t seem reveal something about us, those things that have become estranged from those who have created them or those who most need them.

I’ve put my running shoes away for a few weeks, but they will come out of the closet soon. My feet are starting to wonder where they will run next.

*****  Read more from Hayley at http://chalkboardsandsandcastles.wordpress.com/ *****


NYC Marathon AND Twilight AND Baby Bot's Me Wee Tree, Oh My!!

So much of life is a mystery but there are three things of which I'm sure:  I will always be in awe of my sister's amazing athletic ability and mental toughness, Edward Cullen is the hottest, sparkle-y teen vampire EVER, and Baby Bot in Canada is headed up by two of the most creative people I've ever met.

My sister, Traci McMullen, and Hayley Strandberg, before the NYC Marathon!  Traci printed these AWESOME t-shirts (and one for me, too, so I can wear it when I eat Cheetos on the couch). They ran an insanely fast time of 3:57:46!  I'm so proud of both of them!!

Um...how can you not think he's cute.  Here we are when he used to work for me as an assistant in 2009. We were discussing the rising cost of lumber.  For more of me and my asssistant, go to

The creative geniuses (Renee and Michael) over at www.babybot.com put together this KILLER app for iPhone, iPad, and Android!  You can win amazing prizes from top notch modern baby brands like Oeuf, Wean Green, Bugaboo, Dwell Studio and Mod Mom!

Hurry!!  Go to http://www.babybot.com/meweetree and plant a tree!!  OR if you're too excited to even read about how it works, go straight to...

App on APPLE;


Can you find the Mod Mom Owyn Toy Box??


A Big THANK YOU to Veterans and Service Men and Women - Veteran's Day 2011

Happy Veteran's Day! And a big thank you to veterans, soldiers, and all those amazing military families who miss their loved ones on a daily basis.

I've been thinking a lot about my family members who served today and wanted to honor them in some small way . My mom was kind enough to share some of what she knows about my grandparents so I've included it below. Thanks Mom!

(Juanita Pennington, 1945)

My grandmother, Juanita Pennington was member of the WAVES (Women's Navy) and worked in D.C. during WWII. (Photo above was taken in D.C.) One of her jobs was to decode Japanese messages. She was put on a train with other WAVES. Juanita had no idea where she was going or where she ended up due to the black-out curtains hanging in the train windows. She got off the train at a secret location and worked on the messages. The women would be brought back to their bases the next day.
My grandfather, Lawrence Pennington was a paratrooper during WWII. He was in Africa fighting Rommel (German) as well as parachuting into Europe where he was one of the first paratroopers to drop over the Ziegfreid line when Americans invaded Europe. Most of the men were killed as they parachuted, but he landed safely and hid under a snow-covered tree. He was discovered and held as a prisoner for nine months. The Russian army liberated him and when he came back home to the US he was sent to the Biltmore House Estate in North Carolina to recuperate due to his poor health.

(Clifford Parsons with my dad, Barry Parsons)

My grandpa, Clifford Parsons, was in the Army Engineers division who was responsible for building the roads and bridges before the rest of the troops advanced. He fought in Europe and was ordered to invade Normandy. A week before the invasion, his units' orders were changed or he would have been one of the first men there.

(Charles Hathcock)

Scott's grandfather, Charles Hathcock, also served during WWII. Charles came from a family of six siblings; he was the youngest of four brothers. At one point during WWII, all of the Hathcock brothers were serving in the war. Charles was recruited much later in the war and served in Austria Germany in two main roles. His first role was as a Military Police(MP) officer watching over German war prisoners. His second role gave him the opportunity to explore the German countryside as part of the communications reconstruction team. Charles helped hang telephone lines and open back up communications between German villages. He never had to fire a single shot in either role but instead left the war with an appreciation for the German Austrian people and their countryside.

My grandpa, Calvin Deeter, served in the Navy aboard the The USS Conklin DE439. There's a wonderful website dedicated to those who served on the Conklin: http://www.ussconklin.org/index.htm.


Want to build your portfolio and learn the ropes of running a design business?

Are you studying design and need real life experience? 
Mod Mom Furniture wants you!

Mod Mom Furniture is looking for an unpaid intern, roughly 10+ hours per week starting immediately.  You'll get hands on experience with both the design side of the company as well as the operations side.  Learn what it takes to run a design firm and build your portfolio!
Design intern duties include but are not limited to:
- Assist Design in the conception and execution of new collections
- Assist in daily communication between manufacturer, retailers, press, clients and vendors
- Research necessary materials through local vendors and retailers
- If you have Sketch Up and/or CAD skills, put them to good use while helping design items that can be used in your portfolio.

Ideal Candidate should have:
-Knowledge of basic design principles
-Knowledge of Microsoft Excel, Powerpoint and Word
-A very professional demeanor

Internship is located in Los Angeles.  Schedule is flexible. 

If interested, please contact Kiersten at Kiersten@modmomfurniture.com.


Brookstone Retailer Taps Mod Mom Furniture



Brookstone Retailer Taps Mod Mom Furniture

(Los Angeles, CA., October 28, 2011)  Mod Mom Furniture recently announced a new partnership with the upscale chain specialty retailer, Brookstone, to feature its line of mid-century modern toy boxes via Brookstone’s internet-based catalog. This marks the first time Mod Mom’s children’s collection has been offered by a mass retailer in an e-commerce venue.

Brookstone, typically known for their high-end electronic products, chose Mod Mom Furniture because of its innovative features and design.  Each box—the Owyn, Gracie, Noah, Maude and Bertie, are intuitively designed for aesthetics, eco-durability and child-friendliness. According to Pauline Collins, Brookstone’s public relations manager, “Brookstone is known for clever ideas and cool products”, adding, “Mod Mom Furniture is both modern and traditional.”

Kiersten Hathcock, Mod Mom’s founder and designer is optimistic about the opportunity to introduce her children’s furniture to a larger audience, stating, “We are thrilled to be recognized by Brookstone as part of their family of high-end products and lifestyle solutions.” Samples of the toy boxes may be viewed by visiting Brookstone’s website: www.Brookstone.com.

Mod Mom Furniture was born in a Los Angeles garage in 2007, the product of designer-turned-carpenter Kiersten Hathcock.  Her unique, eco-friendly, child-proven toy boxes
have been sold throughout the United States, Canada and abroad.  Hathcock’s storage pieces have been featured in Dwell Magazine, Elle D├ęcor, Los Angeles Times and Better Homes and Gardens as well as in episodes of ABC’s Shark Tank and the Nate Berkus Show.  For more information visit modmomfurniture.com.


The Mod Mom Furniture Adventure Ride!

I'm not even sure where to start this post.  Or if I even remember how to write one, it's been so long.  This past year has been a huge year of change for my family and my business.  HUGE change, I tell ya. We've endured so many peaks and valleys it really does feel like one of those adventure rides at the amusement park.  I don't normally throw up on those because I like the up and down but there have been more than a few times over the last year, I've wanted to throw up from both excitement and heartache.

The amount of change in the world is astonishing right now and in a very small way, we have the same kinds of change happening inside the walls of this house.  Now that I'm not building anymore, I'm pretty much glued to my broken Ikea swivel chair.  It's fantastic to have L&J Woodworking building for me now but there will always be a big part of me that loved the solitude of the garage.  The smell of cut wood.  And Toby Keith on a small radio.  I know I can steal moments of that while I'm designing new pieces out of scrap wood but for the most part, my job consists of sales and marketing, invoicing, accounting, forecasting, inventory control, customer service, and updating all the social media outlets.  I'm becoming an expert on international shipping, LTL Common Carrier rates, package research, Fed Ex tracking, and, well, you get the idea.  I am NOT bitching in the least but sharing the reality of growing a small garage business into an international brand.  It's a lot less saw dust and a lot more number crunching.  And far more work than what was required when I was building three toy boxes per week.  

Like a lot of families who've endured layoffs and salary cuts, we had to make the hard choice to pull our son Noah from his alternative learning school.   We just couldn't swing the payments and money for gas any longer (school was, on a good day, 30 minutes from our house).  He was in public school prior to his year last year at Alexandria but, for Noah, public middle school just wasn't a fit.  Noah and I are tackling online school together now which means I'm running a growing company and homeschooling at the same time.  We're both getting used to our roles but I won't lie and say there aren't days when I long for my old corporate office in Chicago where the coffee was made and I had a door that would shut.  And I know there are days he wishes I wasn't his teacher. There's a lot of, "Hon, do you understand the algebraic principle of blah blah blah? Kinda? OK, do these pages and I'll come back over in 20 after I call this distributor in Canada from the kitchen table."  I've never done so much multitasking in my life.  I know it will get easier for both of us but MAN, I hope it happens fast.  (As I'm writing this, my sweet husband is tackling a Language Arts assignment with Noah so I can work a bit.  Love that husband of mine.)

I've taken on other roles (or rather, they picked me) as well that I won't share but roles that mean a lot to me and have helped better me as a person. It's heavy, exhausting, tear-inducing work but I'm glad I'm a part of it. With all the change in the world, I feel lucky to have the kind of change we're experiencing but it doesn't mean I don't have moments in the day when I feel I'll never get to the top of the damn hill so I can coast for a bit.

Even if things don't play out the way I think they will, I know that this ride I'm on is all happening for a reason.  And boy have I learned A LOT this year about life, love, business, and 7th grade algebra.


For new developments and giveaways from Mod Mom, check out http://facebook.com/modmomfurniture!

Here are just a few that happened recently...
Brookstone is now selling MMF!
And if you're in Hong Kong, you can buy MMF toy boxes at Jellybean!
And a recap from the ABC Kids Expo!
And my dad building my AMAZING trade show booth!
And lots more exclamation points!!!!!!!


The Lazy Days of Summer

I've really dropped the ball on this here blog of mine. It was all those days relaxing at the pool sipping on margaritas that did it. Wait, did I say relaxing?!?! I meant spinning myself into a crazy ball of activity all the while hearing, "Mom, what are we going to do today?" You all know what I mean. It's the sound of summer while working from home with kids. Back when I was building myself, I'd actually haul the table saw out by the pool at our old house so I could saw while they swam. Now, since expansion happened with my Amish manufacturer (YAY!), I'm finding I'm glued to my office chair in the kitchen while the kids run in and out. UNTIL THIS WEEK!!!!!

Glorious school started!! On Monday!! Well, it did for my 3rd grader. I'm feeling like I have my work life back where I can concentrate for more than 15 minutes at a time and I don't have to save everything for nighttime when I'm super tired and caring more about what happened on Real Housewives than my marketing materials.

I've been gearing up for the ABC Kids Expo in Louisville, Kentucky September 23-26. In fact, one of my business partners, the fabulous Katie Hatch, sketched up this awesome booth design for the show (below). And my insanely talented and loving father will build it in Ohio.  I've done one other trade show in my years and my husband and I built the booth walls but this time around, I'm gladly handing it off to my carpentry mentor. :)  I've been busy running the daily operations, customer service, invoicing, accounting, marketing, sales and PR.  I'm working on the press kit now and a few other marketing/sales items like hang tags, etc.  Thanks to Jenna for a fantastic one-sheet design that gives a brief overview of Mod Mom Furniture.

I'm so glad the lazy days of summer are over!

Booth 2639 in the Modern Child section!  Come see me!!


Mod Mom Furniture goes to Amish Country

Last week, Katie (a whole OTHER wonderful story that will be told soon) and I set off for Dundee, Ohio to review the bedroom set samples and get prepared for the ABC Kids Expo in Louisville, KY in September and we found a whole lot more than just beds and dressers.  I've mentioned it before that I really feel like I hit the jackpot when I was put in touch with Ray Yoder of L&J Woodworking.  This trip just put the cherry on top.

I, like so many, knew very little about the Amish culture/order before meeting Ray Yoder last year.  I knew he and his family dressed in traditional Amish garb, that he was a very good, honest, upstanding man, and that we actually started our businesses similarly, out of the small garages back when. Funny to think we have quite a bit in common but we do. While we were in Ohio, we worked hard to finalize and tweak design samples but all the while, we were also getting to know Ray and his family better.  In fact, on the last day before flying out, Ray offered to introduce us to his wife and younger children we hadn't met yet.  We drove just a short gravel driveway up the way past his 30,000+ square foot L&J Woodworking shop that runs off of hydraulic power to a very cute home, not unlike you'd find in all parts of the country.  In fact, that surprised me on my last trip to Amish country because I'd assumed that Amish families live in either old white farm houses or log cabins...because I'm an idiot. The differences are noticeable but only if you're really looking.  You won't find electricity lines connected to Amish homes and you'll see lines of clothes drying out back.  Oh, and no cars, of course.  But otherwise, they're very similar to our homes. In fact, Ray's home is much larger than mine here in California.

Ray's wife was warm and open, just like Ray.  They shared how they live but even more than that, they shared so much of who they are.  Much more than I would have expected a business partner to share and I was honored to be on the receiving end.  We laughed and talked about things that affect every family in the world:  not enough time spent at home/too much work, kids not coming home at curfew,  and the balance between work and mom-hood. In fact, when Katie and I mentioned that our husbands do most of our laundry, she smiled and said, "Keep it that way," after showing us her laundry set-up which is a manual washer and wringer.

When we weren't getting lost on gorgeous, country roads or eating at Amish-style buffet restaurants, we enjoyed some down time at The Inn at Amish Door.  If you're in the Akron/Canton area, you have to book a room.  It's an unbelievably wonderful hotel with restaurant, shops, and indoor pool. I would love to share more photos of Ray and his facility, but I want to respect his privacy.  For now, enjoy the shots we took while pulling over on the side of the road, unloading a toy box, getting shocked by an electrical fence and quickly moving on our merry way.  We couldn't have looked more out of place but we felt right at home.

Bertie of the Corn

Maude Tractor

Bertie in a Buggy!


Mod Mom Furniture Press Release


Mod Mom Furniture Announces U.S. Production Expansion

(LOS ANGELES, CA., June 20, 2011)  Mod Mom Furniture, a Los Angeles-based boutique manufacturer of mid-modern-era children’s furniture, recently announced expansion plans via a partnership with L & J Woodworking in Dundee, Ohio, increasing its national and international production capabilities.

Founded in 2007, by Kiersten Hathcock, each piece of Mod Mom Furniture has been individually designed and hand crafted by Hathcock, a self-taught carpenter and mother of two who until recently has managed all manufacturing out of her LA garage. “As a woman who started this company without carpentry skills or furniture design know-how, I’m thrilled to see it grow beyond my workshop,” says Hathcock.

Shortly upon leaving her job as a cable television marketing executive in the Midwest and relocating to Los Angeles, Hathcock discovered a need for quality, well-designed children’s furniture that would enhance—rather than detract--from the family living space. Her current line features an assortment of toy boxes with names like Maude, Noah, Gracie and Owyn.  All integrate a subtle mid-century modern design and are eco-friendly, achieving immense popularity in both in the United States and abroad.

By keeping production in the United States, Mod Mom Furniture can preserve its core values while expanding the brand through existing retailers and via the social media. Hathcock plans to introduce beds, dressers desks and play tables in the next two years. Each handcrafted toy box will now be shipped fully constructed from L&J Woodworking.

“I’m thrilled to be partnering with an Amish manufacturer in my home state of Ohio. It’s rare nowadays for American furniture companies to be able to keep production in US and I’m excited to be one of the few that is making it happen.”

Since its inception in 2007 in a Los Angeles garage, Mod Mom Furniture has sold its line of modern crafted-by-hand children’s toy boxes throughout the United States and Canada.  The line, which features five custom designs—Owyn, Gracie, Bertie, Maude and Noah, has been recently featured on episodes of Shark Tank and the Nate Berkus Show, along with its founder, Kiersten Hathcock.

 An expanded version of the Owyn series will be introduced at the 2011 ABC Kids Expo in September.  This newest Mod Mom line will feature twin beds with reversible headboards, a nightstand, and five and three drawer dressers.

For more information on Mod Mom Furniture and its product line, please visit http://www.modmomfurniture.com.


Fav Biz Fridays...er Saturday: Name Your Wish Images

I was very fortunate, during the filming of Shark Tank, to meet some really wonderful people not to mention very smart, talented entrepreneurs.  The women behind Name Your Wish Images are two of my favorites from my filming experience.  I'm thrilled to share their business with you today.

Who They Are:  
April and Laurie 

What They Do:  We offer a diversity of personalized images which begin with original photography. We add any name(s) you wish to create unique customized gifts to delight family and friends. 

** I'm excited to share that they've recently partnered with Walmart and you can purchase one of their most popular creations here:  http://www.walmart.com/ip/Personalized-Carved-Heart-Art-Canvas/15718242

Check out their Facebook page as well for new updates! https://www.facebook.com/pages/Name-Your-Wish-Images/214590184841


Fav Biz Fridays: Coming Soon...

Ok, so it's been a crazy week. I've been out of town for a few days and now we have lots of sweet family in town for an LA vacation.  I've had to choose between Fav Biz Fridays and a shower.  I love all my friends with businesses but the shower won out today.

I'll post the new Fav Biz Friday edition on Saturday so I'm now keeping you in suspense til tomorrow AND I'm clean! :)


Fav Biz Fridays: Patrick Caneday's Book - Crooked Little Birdhouse

It's the first edition of Fav Biz Fridays!!  Every Friday I'm going to profile a favorite biz/entrepreneur in hopes you'll take my advice and check them out as well.  I won't steer you wrong people, I promise! I mean, come on, how many of you have secretly tried those fake glue-on toenails because I said they were cool.  What's that?  Not one of you? Sheesh, people.

Regardless, check out one of my favorite writers in the world....

I live down the street from a famous writer.  Not only is he a genius writer but he's the kind of friend you want to sit down with and share a bottle of wine and cheese on the heaviest plate in the world in his front lawn and yell at speeding cars.  I could go on and on about his book, Crooked Little Birdhouse, but instead I'll let a Pulitzer Prize Winner and a published author tell you how great it is.  After all, you haven't tried the glue-on toenails yet based on my recommendation. :)

From AL MARTINEZ, LA Daily News and Pulitzer Prize winning columnist:
               "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."

From STEVE LOPEZ, Los Angeles Times columnist and author of "The Soloist":
               “Patrick Caneday writes from the heart. His stories, carefully and gracefully revealed, are about the things that ground and unite us all: family, tradition, place, community. This is a collection you’ll reach for again and again.”

ABOUT THE BOOK:  Whether the subject is a bruised knee or a bruised ego, the death of a loved one or the death of a goldfish, his challenged faith, delusions of grandeur or addiction to grilled meat, Patrick Caneday finds a way to make the mundane and ordinary meaningful. In Crooked Little Birdhouse, Caneday brings together a collection of the most popular pieces from his weekly newspaper column and adds a series of new essays. The result is a life story weaved through random insights on the world, people and a birdhouse. With trademark wit and poignant observation, he's not afraid to offer himself as proof of our shared suffering, humanity and survival, in a book that is more memoir than compilation. While others tell us what’s wrong with the world, Caneday shows us what’s right.

Where to buy a signed copy of 

Crooked Little Birdhouse:


More Shark Tank questions and answers....

After Shark Tank aired, my poor husband took a lot of grief for being portrayed as the supportive yet not supportive enough husband because I was doing all the Mod Mom stuff myself.  He laughed at comments made about him but I want to set the record straight because it's not so easy for me to read that stuff about him.  I'm addressing a couple points about him below to clear up the confusion and misperception.  And I threw in a couple more frequently asked questions as well.  :)

"Why didn't he help you build twice the amount of toy boxes so you could make double the money?"
Here's the deal.  He was laid off from his job, doing some consulting work, taking care of the kids, taking care of the house (grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning), and interviewing for full-time work.  His help with everything (including helping me with polyurethaning toy boxes, etc) allowed me to focus on growing Mod Mom and do everything needed to prep for Shark Tank which is an insane amount of work.  While I did make $34K in 2009 (over $100K from 2007-2010), his salary was so far above mine that having him working with me full-time and me making and extra $30K a year wouldn't even touch his income level.  A few people suggested that if he worked with me while he was unemployed, I would have made more money.   He was working with me -- he was handling everything that fell under parenting/homelife. He was unemployed when we filmed the show in October 2010 and remained unemployed til January so every bit of emotion you saw and felt in the Tank was real. We were counting on either MMF or his job or both to save us financially.  The main objective for him (for both of us) was finding a full-time gig making his VP level salary because we knew that what was going to save us immediately.  We live in LA which means if you're making $30K per year for a family of four, you're living in a van down by the river. (Nod to Chris Farley) It's a TV show so they edit it the way they want to have story play out even though I talked quite a bit about how he was helping me.  (Oh, and he does use power tools and builds things as well so he knows his way around the garage.)

"Why wasn't he in the Tank with you showing his support?"
It's my company-- always has been my brain child. While he's insanely supportive and helpful and will be collaborating with me on a few designs in the future, it's still my blood, sweat, and tears all over MMF from the very, very humble beginning in 2007.  I certainly wouldn't go with him to show my support on one of his interviews.  It's the same kinda thing.  Also, he was home taking care of the kids.  Besides, let's be honest.  If he'd been up there by my side, the first question out of the Shark's mouth would've been, "So he's building them, right?" That's the world we live in....the world I'm hoping will change.  I've been working my way through (sometimes fighting my way through) my male-dominated industry for years now so I'm not off in thinking that question would've come up.

"Were you always a stay at home mom? How did you come up with the idea?"


Friday ADD Edition: Crying on TV and New Owyn Table and Stool Set

My brain is literally jumping randomly from one thing to the next so in honor of that (OMG there's a massive squirrel running up a tree), I am listing a few things to note in bullet points to save you from the torture that is my head today.

  • ABC is re-airing my Shark Tank episode again TONIGHT so if you'd like to see me cry on TV, and you didn't get a chance last time, TUNE IN! 8pm on ABC. 
  • *New Owyn Table and Stool Set* is for sale but not on my website yet.  I'm making that happen ASAP! See below for all the details and photos! Owyn has a table and stool set companion! Comes with table and 2 stools.  Amish-made. Heirloom quality construction. Eco-friendly, low-VOC, Eco-Var finish, Sustainable Baltic Birch ply, lift lid to reveal storage. 26"w x 20.25" top, 18" table height, 10" stool height. $375 for the set (includes table + 2 stools).  If you're interested in ordering the table and stool set, please contact me at sale@modmomfurniture.com until I can get it up on the website.  Thank you!
  • I am excited to announce that Mod Mom Furniture will debut the Owyn Bedroom collection at the ABC Kids Show in Louisville, KY in September.  So if you're heading down South, make sure you look for me in the Modern Child Pavilion. 


Amish Meets Modern

When I say I'm working with an Amish manufacturer, I think 99% of people's minds go to Kelly McGillis and Harrison Ford in that 1985 movie Witness.  And rightly so.  I mean, come on. Harrison was super good looking in that movie so that's reason number one.   Until I started working with Ray Yoder and his team, I really didn't know much about Amish culture either.  Other than MAN can they make furniture...and friendship bread!

After meeting everyone at L&J Woodworking, I truly felt like I found the perfect partner.   I was nervous at first.  I wasn't sure if he would shake my hand or think I was insane for thinking I could grow my business but from the moment I walked into the manufacturing plant, there was instant mutual respect between us.  Come to find out, we actually started out similarly in small workshop spaces.  Who knew that the bearded Amish man and the LA girl would have a lot in common?

 L&J is an established woodworking business building everything from gorgeous caskets (yep, I just said that) to traditional Amish furniture to beautiful large scale boat doors and now to my line of modern kids' furniture.  Not only is Ray a very kind, very supportive, very smart man, he's also very forward thinking.  Imagine what it must have been like to get pitched my business -- modern kids furniture made out of plywood?!?  He saw the growth potential, believed in me and was amazed at what had happened in four short years.  We sat at his desk which had one light (powered by big steam silo looking things out back) and a manual calculator.  The rates he'd quoted for me earlier were all hand written. We shook hands and that was that.  Seriously, a very binding hand shake that said without a doubt said we want what the best for each other.  And we work together to make sure what we're doing is a win-win on both sides when hiccups arise, as they do in manufacturing.

To give you an idea of how we operate and communicate, in order to get quotes in the beginning, I needed to build him a sample of the Owyn Toy Box.  So I built one in my garage and shipped it to him in Dundee, Ohio.  He then built one based on my sample which was STUNNING and shipped it back to me. How cool is that?!?!  Most designers send drawings but we did it the old fashioned way.

Technology isn't foreign to him just limited.  I do send computer animated drawings to him either through email to a non-Amish business associate or via fax.  When I was in his office, we discussed how we'd communicated knowing that we were limited.  We do talk on the phone during certain hours; however, we needed a way to send invoices, purchase orders, etc to each other.  He asked if I had a fax machine and I said no.  So the irony was that I had to step up to Amish technology.  I now have a web faxing service so I can send and receive faxes from my email/blackberry.  And they get mine on their fax machine which again is powered by steam.  We use faxing like email and it's been great!!  Everything they send to me is handwritten.  Everything I send to them is computer generated.  Ray just told me today they now have a color fax machine which is hugely helpful!!  He didn't realize Owyn's leaves were green before I sent the actual sample.   The little things like color faxes make a difference. I did have to think creatively when it came to shipping logistics but we worked all that out as well.

I feel so insanely blessed/fortunate/lucky to have L&J Woodworking as my manufacturer and Ray Yoder and his family and staff as my friends.  The fact that his daughter mentioned she'd love to have one of my toy boxes when she gets married and has children is so amazingly heartwarming.

While I'm still learning a lot about the Amish culture in general, I know one thing for sure. That handshake back in October is more solid than a hundred page legal contract and I wouldn't want it any other way.  Oh, and I also know they REALLY know how to make furniture.  Dare I say even better than a mom in a garage who rarely showers?!?


Owyn Toy Box: Serial Killers and PR Execs Love it!!

Check out where you can find the Owyn Toy Box in the fall!

New Series on NBC called UP ALL NIGHT with Christina Applegate, Will Arnett, Maya Rudolph.  Produced by Lorne Michaels


Nate Berkus Aired!

I can't say enough about my Nate Berkus experience.  Nate, the producers, the crew -- all wonderful!  Nate even praised my designs and put me in contact with one of the most highly regarded designers of modern kid furniture on the planet.

Thanks so much to everyone who tuned in and wrote lovely, supportive notes.  And without the show, I wouldn't have connected with Nikki Pope of www.toygaroo.com.  Ironically, we live about 10 minutes from each other.  I'm so glad to know her and am proud of what's she's accomplished with Toygaroo!

Here's a partial clip of the interview.  As soon as I find the segment in it's entirety (including the behind the scenes/home video portion), I'll post it.


Missing Her - Theda Joyce Parsons

Theda Joyce Parsons

My amazing Dad and Grandma

At my Dad's induction ceremony into the Franklin High School Athletics Hall of Fame.
Grandma was the nation's leading scorer in basketball and was recruited to play on the
first professional women's basketball team, The All-American Red Heads.  

My sweet babies with Grandma.  Oh how they loved her and she loved them. 

I miss her.  We all miss her.  She was pure light. 
And I know for a fact that without the influence of the strong women role models in my family, like Grandma Theda, Grandma Juanita and my Mom, I wouldn't have a furniture business.  
I wouldn't have been able to weather multiple storms this past year.  I wouldn't be who I am today.  
I love her dearly and will miss her every day.

Theda Joyce Parsons, age 83, of Miamisburg, passed away on Thursday, May 12, 2011 surrounded by family at Sycamore Hospital. Born on May 9, 1928 to Ruby and Harve Parsons, Theda grew up in St. Charles, VA with eight brothers and sisters. While in high school, she was named the nation's leading scorer for girls' basketball and was invited to join the first women's professional basketball team, The All American Red Heads. Her love for athletics continued throughout her life as she was an active booster and supporter of all sporting teams at Franklin High School. Theda was blessed with two great loves in her life. She fell in love with and married Clifford Parsons of St. Charles, VA on October 14, 1946. They spent thirty-four wonderful years together until his death in 1981. Together, they had one son, Barry Parsons, the light of their lives. Theda has spent the last twenty-six years with her loving, devoted partner, Cal Deeter, also of Miamisburg, Ohio. 

In addition to being a loving wife and mother, Theda was a valued employee in Quality Control for Carrolton Envelope/Kimberly-Clark until she retired. In work and in life, Theda was known for her compassion, sense of humor, positive spirit and beautiful smile. 

She lived most of her adult life in Franklin, where she was a devoted member of the First Baptist Church.  Theda loved being involved with the Clothing Ministry, cooking meals for the needy and working with the little ones in the nursery.  She cherished every moment with her dear friends from the church. 

Theda was preceded in death by her parents, Harve and Ruby Parsons, brothers Gene and Paul, and sister Eileen.  She is survived by her sisters, Imogene Crum of Las Vegas, NV, Rita Jenkins of Cleveland, OH, Ann Anderson of Titusville, FL, and brother Lynn Parsons of Cincinnati, OH; son Barry Parsons, and daughter-in-law Cheryl of Defiance, OH; granddaughter Traci McMullen and husband Phil and their children Chase (4) and Riley Paige (2) of San Francisco, CA; and granddaughter Kiersten Hathcock and husband Scott and their children Noah (12) and Grace (8) of Los Angeles, CA.  She is also survived by six nieces and nephews: Andy, Tim, Michelle, Kim, Jill, and Karen.

Funeral service will be Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at 12:00 PM with Vernon Risner officiating at Anderson Funeral Home (Franklin) Visitation will be from 10:00 AM until time of service. Burial will be in Butler County Memorial Park.

To honor Theda, memorial contributions can be sent to First Baptist Church, 16 West Second Street, Franklin, OH 45005, in lieu of flowers. www.anderson-fh.com.



One more hour to go before I touch down in Cincinnati, Ohio so I figured I'd write a bit. I've exhausted email, Facebook, invoicing, prospecting, and researching medical websites on end of life pneumonia. I've always said, from the beginning when I started this blog in 2006, that it was partly therapy for me.  And I'm not stopping now.

Since October, I've been completely buried in details.  All the details you have to pay attention to when you're trying to grow a business.  Sometimes I feel like all those details are too much to handle and some days they make me feel like I'm accomplishing something. Today, I've got different details on my mind.

Moments.  Pictures in my head.  My Grandma, my sister and me sun bathing on her beautiful green lawn.  Her big gorgeous toothy smile.  The way she loved that song Just a Swingin' back when I had a Dorothy Hammel-esque haircut.  The way she used to rub my back..and now my kids backs when we watched TV. These are the details I'm covered up in as I keep hoping and praying I get there before she moves on. Only 54 minutes left til we touch down.


Save the Date Sale!

If you've followed Mod Mom Furniture at all, you know that I was fortunate enough to do something most of my friends want to do before they die:  look into Nate Berkus gorgeous eyes.  He's seriously gorgeous...and kind...and genuine.  I had a ball talking to him about work/family balance and Shark Tank in NYC a few weeks ago.   I found out yesterday that the episode I'm in is scheduled to air on May 20th!

So in honor of it......


Happy Mother's Day!

My sweet kids -- Noah and Grace.

my gorgeous mom circa 1970

I hope your Mother's Day was filled with lots of, well, whatever you wanted to do!  I had a ball eating breakfast at a favorite diner, watching Tivo'd shows like Vampire Diaries and Grey's Anatomy, having lunch and Bloody Mary's with amazing friends, and falling asleep on my couch.  It. was. heaven.  Thanks so much to my sweet family!

I missed my Mom but I know I'll get to see her soon.  She celebrated the day in Ohio with my Grandma. My heart goes out to all of my friends whose Moms are no longer with us. Much love to you all.

I have lots to share about Mod Mom Furniture growth so I'll update the blog this week as well and fill you all in.  I'm hoping to hear this week when the Nate Berkus episode will air so I'll pass that along as soon as possible!

Happy Mother's Day!


Whirlwind :)

The past month has felt very surreal between the Shark Tank airing, all the emails and messages of support, and the flights to North Carolina for the International Home Furnishings Market & NYC for the Nate Berkus show.  I feel very, very fortunate to have the support of so many people.  Thanks again for all the press and kind messages!

I've been busy working on growing the business through manufacturing new designs, connecting with new retailers and customers and managing the day-to-day logistics of running a furniture company. I'm so lucky to have an amazing team of people working tirelessly to help me manage all of it.  And I thought building toy boxes was time consuming! :) Thanks so much to Katie Hatch, Lauren Tucker, Julie Martin Sunich, my Mom (part-time assistant) and Dad (QC/East Coast Czar) for shouldering some of the workload. And thanks to my husband and family for being so understanding and juggling schedules to accommodate me being out of town.  And for loving me for who I am faults and all. :)

Here's a few of the press-related links that have shown up over the past few weeks..





Mod Mom in NYC for the Nate Berkus Show!

These last few weeks have been incredible!  The premiere of Shark Tank then the High Point International Furniture Market in North Carolina and the ASFD keynote speech and now Nate Berkus!! Seriously, this is so fun!! (And a tiny bit nerve wracking.)

I get to meet Nate tomorrow morning where I'll be a guest on his talk show where I'll be talking about starting a business from home and balancing work and family.  I'll have a lot more shots tomorrow but I thought I'd post a few from tonight.  It's been a long time since I was in NYC.  In fact, I want to say I was pregnant with Grace when I was here last on business for A&E and History Channel.

I can't wait to share my journey and photos tomorrow.  If you haven't seen his show, click here:  http://www.thenateshow.com/episodes/

In the meantime, here's a shot from my hotel window. :)