Mod Mom started as a way for me to bring in lost income from leaving the corporate world to spend more time with my kids. If I was lucky enough to sell two toy boxes in one week, I knew we had our gas bill and a grocery trip covered.
I had no idea what I was doing, but I had Google. I researched how to build furniture and started building. I looked up to mid-century mod designers like Eames and Herman Miller but I didn’t feel as if I was ever in their league.
And I wasn’t. I was a mom in a garage.
I was even told by a high-end designer to hang it up—that I had no shot without a Parsons School of Design degree. I defiantly said I had my own “Parsons” degree. My maiden name is Parsons and my education was trial by sawdust in a run-down, 1940s Burbank garage.
I wouldn’t trade my learning by doing degree for a million bucks. OK, maybe for a million bucks.
Thirteen years after I started Mod Mom in my garage, I’m now partnering with Frank Lloyd Wright, the most acclaimed American architect that ever lived. Even though he’s no longer here, I feel his spirit in all that I do while I’m designing a new kids’ furniture line inspired by Mr. Wright’s Usonian furniture designs from approximately 1930-1950. They are mostly plywood, just like my furniture.
How did this happen and who did I have to pay, you ask?
Well, as “luck” would have it, I met the VP of Licensing at an event in Phoenix where I was hired as the keynote speaker. Three days later, she asked if I would be interested in exploring collaborative opportunities with Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation...but I didn’t have to pay her. ;)
In all of his years, Mr. Wright never designed a kids’ line of furniture. He designed a piece or two but that’s it. What he did do was leave behind an incredible portfolio of world-renowned designs from which to draw inspiration. He truly was a genius.
And get this... back in my days as a marketing manager for A&E and the History Channel long before I thought about picking up a hammer, I was assigned an integrated marketing project with his name on it. Frank Lloyd Wright was to be featured on the Biography Channel as well as other outlets the network owned and I was tasked with putting together a marketing plan. I learned a lot about him back then but never once thought that almost twenty years later, I’d be taking pictures (on the lawn of Taliesin West) of a table set I designed that is inspired by him.
Maybe that marketing plan was a universal hint. A preview of what was to come in my life. I'm not really sure but what I do know is that I'm blown away by how all of this is coming together.
Late last year, I went into our Flagstaff garage and designed a prototype of what is now showing at Palm Springs’ Modernism Week. It’s the first of many items that will launch this summer as part of the Frank Lloyd Wright kids’ furniture line by Mod Mom. I’m incredibly lucky that my manufacturing partner, a family-owned, thirty-year kids furniture manufacturer named Little Colorado, is as excited as I am about this new venture. After I designed the table set, I sent photos to Little Colorado in Denver and they worked their magic producing a a ready-to-assemble table and chair set matching my design. It's thrilling that we can keep manufacturing right here in the US!
I wonder what Mr. Wright would think of me spearheading a new line of furniture based on his work. I’d like to think he would love my warrior spirit—entrepreneurship is not easy, that's for sure. And I know my own designs would resonate with him even though I didn't look at his work when I was designing my original Mod Mom pieces. Honestly, I knew more about his architecture than his furniture before I dove into his world for this project. His life was far from easy and I know his professional journey was bumpy at times. I’ve been there, too.
I’m forever grateful for the chance to do what I’m doing with a team of people who are the best of the best. I can honestly say that when I'm old and gray and I look back at my life, this opportunity will stand out as one of the greatest.
Thanks for taking a chance on this self-taught carpenter and furniture designer, Mr. Wright. (Errr, Stephanie, to be exact.)
* P.S: If you are in town for Modernism Week in Palm Springs, CA starting February 13, check out the Show and Sale! The play table set will be shown in the Atomic Ranch Magazine booth.
Check out the Frank Lloyd Wright page on our Mod Mom Website the latest scoop.
It's been thirteen years since I bought a sheet of plywood at the local lumberyard and started designing the Gracie Toy Box.
It's truly surreal that it's been that long. As you might know or have read in "What happened after Shark Tank", the road has not been easy but it's been worth it! Although, during the times I was in tears sitting on the sawdust-covered step of my garage workshop, I didn't know if it was worth it. All I knew was that no matter how much I wanted to throw in the towel, I couldn't.
This year, we're only 26 days into January and I can't quite believe what's happening! (In a good way!).
First of all, I'm incredibly happy and proud to say that I was approached by Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation about design collaboration opportunities last year, but this year, I'm now knee deep in exploring those collaboration opportunities. As in, I went into the garage and designed (and built) a table and chair set that's inspired by Mr. Wright's work.
There's so much more to come on this partnership, but what I can say right now is that I'm still pinching myself. Who knew that a self-taught carpenter and designer would be working with the biggest name in architecture (and design) in the US?!? Certainly not me. I was told when I started my Mod Mom journey that it would be impossible, that I would never amount to anything because I didn't have a design degree, and many said that I should just quit. I'm so glad I didn't listen to the noise.
In addition to the new developments with Mod Mom Furniture, I am also jumping up and down about next steps with the memoir I just finished writing. Much to my delight, after sending a few query letters to literary agents, one wrote back. After reading stories of how long it takes folks to land agents, I was half expecting it to take years. It took only three months. She was interested in reading more about my book, and after doing so, offered to be my literary agent. You can read more about it (and reviews from beta readers) here.
I'm also thrilled to share that the retired NYPD detective/current CEO of a private detective firm I work with in NY will be writing the foreward for my book. To say I'm grateful is an understatement. Surviving and healing from abuse is far from easy but I realized along the journey that if I learned to trust my intuition, it would prove to be a roadmap leading me out of pain and hurt to love and light. I'm so glad I trusted it!
I can't wait to see what's to come in 2020 but I know one thing for sure—I'm going to keep moving forward committed to the things in my life that I'm passionate about.
I couldn't do this without the love and support of my family. Scott, Noah, and Grace —you are my world and my inspiration. Thank you for being you. And for supporting and loving me through all of the ups and downs of life.
Here's to 2020! May it push you to the edge of your dreams and give you the courage and strength to just keep going. Believe me, it works. Just keep going!
When I started Mod Mom in our garage back in 2007, I had no idea what I was doing. I merely had a gut feeling, some wood, and a drive to make up the salary I lost when I chose to stay home with our kids after Grace was born.
And then Scott was laid off. Ah, good ole 2008. So many of us went through it.
Mod Mom became a necessity for us. Most entrepreneurs I know can relate to this. Every toy box and play table I built and sold ensured we could pay our household bills.
My initial vision wasn't to expand internationally, it was to sell toy boxes locally and continue to be able to be home with the kids like I couldn't when Noah was little. So many families struggle with this and for me, entrepreneurship was the answer.
The icing on the cake was when Mod Mom grew nationally and then internationally in a very organic way. I'm forever grateful for all of you out there who have supported Mod Mom in one way or another. I wouldn't be where I am without you.
Now, I even consult with entrepreneurs helping them scale their businesses and/or get their products manufactured or licensed. I wouldn't trade it for the world. I did not get here alone; a whole host of folks helped me along the way and I love being able to share what I've learned over the past twelve years.
To all of you out there who risked it all—ridicule by naysayers, stability, hours and hours of your life, crying in your pillow (er, sawdust), the hard AF choices you have to make, and all the rest that comes with entrepreneurship, I have the utmost respect for you.
You are the risk takers. The brave souls who continually push through fear. You inspire me and I hope that in some small way, sharing my journey has helped you.
Happy National Entrepreneurs Day to all of you!
It doesn't feel that long ago that our kiddos sat with me in the garage workshop making sawdust cakes and talking about their day at school while I polyurethaned a toy box.
Cliche, I know, but I really do wonder where the time went.
Now, our kids aren't kids anymore. Noah is 21 and Grace is 17—a far cry from the ages they were in my SHARK TANK episode.
I always hoped that seeing their mom in the garage working hard towards something that others said was ridiculous would help silently encourage them to trust their gut, work hard for what they want and for who they want to be, and ignore all of the haters along the way.
Now, I'm not saying I had anything to do with their general awesomeness but maybe, just maybe, they did take something from the journey both Scott and I have been on since they came into life and stole our hearts. Oh, and maybe all that sawdust (and going against the grain) that filled their childhoods really did make a tiny impact.
Noah is now doing the bravest thing I've seen anyone do—he's changing genders. We are so proud of him (he's not changed pronouns yet) for having the courage to fight for what he knows is right for him. There's nothing more important than feeling comfortable in your own skin and he's finally on his way. Also, Noah is continuing to pursue his love of illustration and he's wowing us with his creativity. I've said many times throughout my life that I believe both Noah and Grace are here to teach us more than we are teaching them. Our old soul first-born is a shining example of what an incredibly fearless leader looks like who is shining so much light on the world without even knowing it. Noah's just being Noah but I know he's encouraging all of us to be more compassionate and to love ourselves and each other with our whole heart. noahhathcock.com
Grace—our caring, strong, talented, heart-centered spitfire—is bravely stepping out in major ways with her music. She's been singing and writing songs since she was little, not to mention she taught herself piano and guitar. We're blown away by her heart and creativity—she brings audiences to tears when she sings. Her capacity to feel and to help others move through their pain is unmeasured and it's certainly one of her gifts in this life. Recently, she opened up for music industry giant, Andy Grammer, at Northern Arizona University and received roaring applause for being exactly who she is on-stage and off-stage. She looked as cool as a cucumber up there while her Dad and I were practically hyperventilating. I love her courage and faith in herself as as musician to follow her own path and stick to her guns about what she knows is right for her. gracenoelle.com (She's currently in the recording studio recording 5 original songs-- they'll be released in 2020)
To say I'm a proud mama is an understatement.
I'm inspired by them daily and so grateful for the time I got to spend with them when they were little—even if it meant we were all covered in sawdust.
When I started Mod Mom Furniture in 2007, I had zero carpentry or design experience and I didn't have funding. I had a gut feeling that what I was embarking on would work. The first few toy boxes I built were horrible but I got better over time. I built everything by hand for three years in our 400 square foot garage, designed my logo using PowerPoint, built a not-so-easy-to-load website in Microsoft Publisher, handled all sales, marketing, invoicing, and shipping (aka, loading up a toy box in my minivan with a toddler in tow and dropping it at UPS.)
I couldn't be more grateful for those early days in the garage. And for the many naysayers. At every turn, I was forced to check my gut and go against what everyone else was saying I should do. I got better at doing this over time. I got better at trusting myself.
Entrepreneurship is so much about risk taking and believing in yourself—far more than it is about being an expert in your field. I wasn't an expert in any of what I was doing but I believed in myself.
Today, I'm back in the garage exploring collaboration ideas/designs with Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. Talk about surreal!
Moral of the story: Trust your gut even when others say it won't work.
I had the honor and pleasure of being part of a brand new docuseries about entrepreneurship called TRUEFUTURE.
And the icing on the cake was Flagstaff (and so many amazing local entrepreneurs) were profiled in Season 1! We even had a docuseries premiere at The Orpheum Theater in downtown Flagstaff.
I'm super grateful for Dan Kasprzyk of Poba Medical for encouraging the production team led by Joe Mullings to include my story in their series. It was truly a wonderful experience!
Above is the episode I was featured in.
Below are a few photos from the premiere...
Look for TRUEFUTURE on Truefuture.tv as well as your TV in the near future.
P.S. Our daughter Grace played the cocktail hour, too! We are so proud of that girl of ours. You can find more about her music here: gracenoelle.com.
(Click the video above to watch 2018's 1st Annual Hathcock Christmas Variety Show - 30 minutes long)
Singing has always been a huge part of Scott's life and he's always wanted to host a variety show. His musical idols growing up were Dean Martin and The Rat Pack. Scott's parents (Larry and Judy Hathcock) are very talented musicians and singers so naturally we thought why not put on a Christmas variety show reminiscent of the Dean Martin Christmas Show from the 1960s.
We went live on Facebook Christmas night 2018 (split into two videos but merged into one above). We had a blast hamming it up and loved the fact that Gracie (our daughter) and Scott's mom, Judy, and our awesome neighborhood audience played along with us during the LIVE portion! I make an appearance in a silly White Christmas duet with Grace but mainly I was cameraman when I wasn't on stage. And I built the stage out of plywood and 2 x 4s and ordered a lovely winter scene photo backdrop from Amazon. (It was that easy -- anyone can do it!)
We've left the stage up without the backdrop and Christmas decorations in the living room so we can sing and play all year round.
Thanks to all of our friends and family for joining us on Christmas night! We love you all! <3
I'm honored and grateful to have had the chance to present a Ted Talk in Sedona last weekend.
The full video will be available in the next couple of months but I wanted to share the beginning of a very emotional "talk" I gave last Saturday. I'm beyond grateful for my family and friends who have supported me through some of the darkest times in my life.
Here I am speaking on the TEDx Sedona stage about narcissistic/emotional/verbal abuse I endured from 2014-2017 and the tools I used to help rebuild my life and heal deep wounds that kept me locked in the cycle of abuse. Hopefully, the video will be uploaded to TED within two months! Super grateful for the opportunity to tell my story in hopes it will help others know they aren’t alone. We have a silent epidemic on our hands.
Here's a sneak peak of the beginning of the talk...
It's hard to believe it's been eight years since Shark Tank aired my pitch. I can say without a doubt that A LOT has happened since my time in the tank.
I wrote about the initial "after the tank" back in 2011 and then again in 2014. And I speak about it as I travel the country talking about my entreprenuerial journey and lessons I've learned about trusting my own intuition and never giving up. I'm forever grateful for my time in the Tank so I thought I'd give you the nutshell version "where are they now—Mod Mom.”
If you're an entrepreneur, I have a sneaking suspicion you'll relate to my timeline below.... (Read more below by clicking READ MORE.)
I have the best partners on the planet! And they just relaunched The Gracie Toy Box today! Click the photo above to purchase, or check out the blog post about the relaunch....