As a woman, it’s hard not to be inspired by Kiersten Hathcock of Mod Mom Furniture. Here’s a woman that in 2007 took an idea of starting a furniture company (of all things!) in her tiny garage without any wood working experience, to help support her family during tough financial times. Committed to her idea, and her family she has built Mod Mom to a modern day success story. Mod Mom Furniture has not only been featured in magazines, TV shows, and modern design books but is being purchased by families, celebrities, and interior designers from around the globe. Reality TV show fans might recognize Kiersten as tough enough swim with the sharks, but I want to introduce you to one of the kindest makers I’ve met.
Modestics: Tell us about Mod Mom Furniture.
Kiersten Hathcock for Mod Mom Furniture: Mod Mom is a garage built company founded in 2007 by yours truly, an ex-marketing executive for A&E and The History Channel turned work-from-home mom. I launched Mod Mom in an effort to help make ends meet for my family (after job loss and lay offs) and to fill a marketplace void. Without carpentry experience, design know-how or start-up money, I built went blindly into the night and miraculously built a following very organically by selling made-to-order eco-friendly, modern toy boxes I constructed at home in L.A. For three and a half years, I built everything in my four hundred square foot garage until December of 2010 when I partnered with an Amish manufacturer, L&J Woodworking in Dundee, Ohio. Roughly 350 pieces came out of that small Burbank garage! In 2011, I braved and survived the Sharks on national television on the popular ABC TV show, “Shark Tank” and recently signed on as spokesperson for Stanley Furniture’s Young America brand of kids furniture made right here in the US! Mod Mom continues to grow and evolve and I’m super excited to see what this next chapter brings. Heart, soul, intuition, sweat, authenticity and more sweat built this brand and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
MO: Where did the name come from?
KH: Mod Mom Furniture literally came from my idea that I wanted to make sure folks knew I was a mom who cared about what kids are exposed to (i.e eco-friendly, non-toxic) and that the furniture was Mod in style. I didn’t name it something “kid-like” because I always felt we would launch other off shoots like furniture for adults and pets. It’s a nice umbrella name for whatever we want to pursue like our recent offshoots: a line of upholstered furniture called PureMod (a mompreneur collaboration with Samantha Cobos) and our new line of MOD PET products.
MO: When did you feel like you were a real company?
KH: I felt like I was a real company when design blogs started talking about the design. I wasn’t sure, at first, if people were interested in the story because I was a mom with tool belt or they really thought the designs were good. Much to my surprise, international design books came calling and that right there made me feel like I broke into the design club and had a real company.
MO: What aspect of your job do you love?
KH: The aspect of my job I love the most is two part: the design aspect and the marketing. While I’m not building the designs anymore, I still love the creative aspect of seeing something go from an idea in my head to a real product or a real campaign. There are times I miss the smell of cut wood. I miss the solitude and peace of working in an old garage with the radio playing. I do NOT miss the days where it was 100 degrees and I was swinging a hammer. HA! Happy those days are behind me.
MO:What was the first thing you made?
KH: The first thing I made was a storage bin that wasn’t the least bit modern! It was horrible. I didn’t even have a table saw at the time. I used a circular saw to cut straight edges. We used that toy bin for awhile in our house but to say it was a good piece of furniture is not even close to possible!
MO: Do you yourself make your products or do you have factories you work with?
KH: Ever since late 2010, an amazing Amish furniture manufacturing company called L&J Woodworking out of Dundee, Ohio has been building my furniture. I really couldn’t ask for a better partner. I’m so blessed because from the very first day, we just hit it off. They offered me a made-to-order manufacturing deal where they ship the items from their warehouse in Ohio. We literally have a handshake deal where I want the best for them and they want the best for me. Mod Mom makes up just a sliver of their overall multi-million dollar business so I’m not making them rich by any means but they care about Mod Mom and I care about them. I mentioned that I just entered into a spokesperson deal with Stanley Furniture’s Young America brand of kids’ furniture and they, too, will be producing a line of Mod Mom Furniture by Young America. I adore the team at Young America and am thankful for their forward thinking and appreciation for genuine, authentic stories about women who build furniture companies out of their garage. Well, this woman who built a furniture company out of her garage!
MO: Have any special interests?
KH: Anyone who knows me knows I talk a lot about trusting intuition. Heck, just the sheer fact that Mod Mom worked at all is a testament to trusting intuition. So many people said what I was trying wasn’t going to work. On paper, they were right. Who starts a furniture company without any experience or money? My Mod Mom experiences and my experiences growing up as a highly intuitive person with highly intuitive kids led me to found The Little Light Project, Inc., a non-profit helping highly intuitive/sensitive kids who are often times diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, etc. Also, we help grieving parents and child sexual abuse survivors. At first glance, it doesn’t sound like it ties together but after reading my founder’s message, it makes a lot more sense. We have partnered with mental health professionals, intuitive counselors, alternative healing specialists, and medical professionals to create support services that not only honor traditional medicine but also honor more alternative, spiritual methodologies.
MO: Any memorable on-the-job injuries?
KH: When I first bought a biscuit joiner, I stupidly didn’t brace it correctly and sliced my ring finger. Off to urgent care I went with my three year old and my 7 year old in tow. They learned from that experience that biscuit joiners are not toys and a tetanus shot made Mom really sore. Also, I would sometimes try to cut ply that was too big for my 10-inch Craftsman saw and I’d have to kind of have to forcefully push it through by jumping up and down. DO NOT TRY THAT AT HOME! I learned quickly to have the lumberyard cut the sheets down to manageable cut sizes for my tiny saw. I believe this change in thinking probably saved my life. Kick back hurts!!
MO: What’s your favorite Made in USA designer?
KH: One of my favorite Made in the USA designers is actually one of our partners that I mentioned earlier; Samantha Cobos of Pure Inspired Home. She and I met online a few years back and struck up a friendship based on the fact we both loved each other’s design aesthetic. Samantha designs beautiful upholstered furniture, bedding, rugs, and other types of soft goods. She’s super talented and very down to earth and she’s a mom, like me. I strongly believe in helping each other out and that’s exactly what we do.