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Meet Kiersten Hathcock of Mod Mom Furniture in Flagstaff

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kiersten Hathcock.

Kiersten, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I did not take the straight and narrow career path, that’s for sure! I went from corporate to carpentry at the age of thirty-four. Back in 2003, I left a marketing career with A&E and The History Channel to spend more time with my kids. While at home in LA, I spent time doing freelance marketing as well as nanny work to help make ends meet but it wasn’t steady enough and I needed a more substantial creative outlet.

It became very apparent that I missed doing design work when I turned our garage sale into a space that looked like The Gap. Above each table hung professional signage that I spent hours designing after the kids went to bed.

But back to furniture…

I was in the process of looking for toy storage when a light bulb went off in my head. After doing a little online research, I discovered that only two companies were selling modern-style toy boxes so I set out to fill a marketplace void, incorporate more imagination and creativity in my life, and continue to be able to stay at home with my kids and help make up for my lost salary. All I had to do was teach myself how to design, build, and sell furniture.

In addition to crafting toy boxes, I handled all aspects of my start up from logo design to website design to accounting to shipping. At first, everyone around me thought I was nuts, but the quiet voice inside of me made me have faith in myself and my crazy idea.

For three and a half years, I built everything under the name Mod Mom Furniture—approximately 400 toy boxes—in our 400 square foot garage until 2011 when I partnered with an Amish manufacturer in Ohio. And get this—I never paid a dime for advertising.

Mod Mom Furniture expanded globally via exposure from blogs and publications who wanted to tell the story of the mom in the garage. All of this organically-grown press led to editorial features in magazines, TV shows like Shark Tank (I won a deal!) and The Nate Berkus Show, and international modern design books.

When I started Mod Mom, I never imagined selling furniture outside of LA. Today, the brand is known internationally and our products are being purchased by families, celebrities, and interior designers from around the globe.

In January of 2018, we signed a North American licensing deal with Denver-based company, Little Colorado. The thirty-year-old toddler furniture company is producing and distributing new and existing Mod Mom designs throughout North America—both online through retailers like Amazon.com and in brick and mortar stores.

In addition, I am exploring collaboration opportunities with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation to create a co-branded kids’ line of furniture that combines the best of Mod Mom and Frank Lloyd Wright. More news to come on this!

When I’m not growing Mod Mom or hanging with my family and friends, you can find me working with my agent on a memoir I just finished writing, speaking nationally to all ages about building a business from my garage, and consulting with entrepreneurs all over the country as an Entrepreneur in Residence with Moonshot at NACET in Flagstaff.

Since starting Mod Mom twelve years ago, I have grown so much as a person and an entrepreneur. The ride has been anything but smooth, but at every turn, lessons were learned that helped me get where I am today.

The biggest takeaway so far is to always trust your intuition even if you are putting faith in something that seems completely illogical. Be smart, do your homework, and listen to others, but don’t follow the crowd if it feels like you’re going against your own inner guidance.

You’ve got everything you need inside of you. Turns out, going from corporate to carpentry—traveling my sawdust-covered yellow-brick road—is one of many gifts in my life. I just had to believe.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The road has been anything but smooth but I wouldn’t change a thing even when the deal on Shark Tank didn’t go through after the cameras stopped filming. Just a year after getting a deal on air that didn’t go through in real life, I received funding (more than I asked for on Shark Tank) from a true angel investor who saw my pitch on Shark Tank via Hulu and reached out. He’s a stellar person with a huge heart—I’m honored to be in business with him.

Another failed deal I didn’t see coming happened back in 2014. After eight months of negotiations, I inked a licensing and spokesperson deal with Stanley Furniture, a home furnishings industry giant. I truly felt like I’d made it after spending so many years covered in saw dust.

On April 1, 2014, I hopped on a plane bound for High Point, North Carolina and the largest home furnishing trade show affectionally called “Market.” I was to be interviewed by HGTV, film videos talking about Stanley Furniture’s youth line called Young America, and my expanded line that was to be built and sold by Young America.

Upon landing, I got a million text messages asking me if I’d read the press release that was published that day. Little did I know, the release they were talking about—that published on April fools day—wasn’t a joke at all. Stanley had shut down Young America which meant I lost my licensing deal and spokesperson salary.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. Devastated, I picked myself back up and continued pushing forward despite the huge setback. There were more hurdles along the way but ultimately, by continuing to trust my gut, I made my way to new partnerships that have been the antithesis of what I endured in April Fools’ Day five years ago.

Tell us about your company. What do you do, what do you specialize in, what are you known for, etc. What are you most proud of as a company? What sets you apart from others?
Mod Mom Furniture is a US-based furniture company that makes eco-friendly, modern style heirloom furniture for kids. Honestly, I’m most proud of the fact that after twelve years, the company I started out of my garage is still here. And growing! The furniture business is a tough one and it’s taken more hits over the past few years. My hat is off to any company in the home furnishings sector that is still around and thriving.

I believe what sets Mod Mom Furniture apart is the fact that we make heirloom quality furniture that doesn’t necessarily look like kids’ furniture. It can fit in any room of the house! And it’s been designed by a mom and continues to be made right here in the US.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Do I have to pick one?! This is hard! I would have to say that the proudest moment in my career thus far isn’t winning a deal on Shark Tank, although I was proud that I made it through my pitch without making a total fool of myself.

I’d say my proudest moment is when I decided to put myself out there and take the leap back in 2007. I fought through fear and naysayers to build the life I wanted to live.

Along the same lines, I’m very proud of the fact that I kept getting back up off the ground despite many failed deals on the rollercoaster of entrepreneurship. I’m proud that I never gave up.

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Image Credit:
ABC TV Shark Tank (for the Shark Tank photo)

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