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!