I'm up earlier than usual this morning. 4:45am, to be exact. Per my normal routine, I stayed in bed checking my phone for a bit before I let the dog out. While thumbing through my Facebook feed, I happened upon a piece written by my friend Wendy Miller.
It's called, "I Asked A Holocaust Survivor, What’s The Point Of Life?"
With my eyes still adjusting to the light of the phone, I pressed the link.
And I'm beyond grateful that I did.
This year has required us to dig deeper than we have in a very long time. It's required us to process pain and fear that we never saw coming. And it forced me to do something I didn't want to do—slow down. I'd become accustomed to running around at warp speed like most of us entrepreneurs do without realizing it.
Even my intuition told me I had to slow down, but until I was forced to pump the brakes, I didn't. It's easier to run in circles than to sit quietly feeling all of the feelings.
This morning while reading Wendy's beautifully written piece, I was reminded that I needed to come back into balance again. I was off-kilter.
As happens with all of us, things show up in life to help us see just how far we've come. This happened to me two weeks ago. I faced something I hadn't had to face in a long time—a trigger that opened the door for me to set boundaries. A trigger that brought up visceral memories of abuse I endured at one point in my life.
This time, I chose to stand up for myself and employ boundaries and distance, something I didn't do as easily or quickly in the past. For that, I'm grateful, but I also realized that on top of all of the feelings that come with 2020, the emotional energy of what I recently endured was still coating everything in my life.
Until I read what Wendy's neighbor, a holocaust survivor, said was the meaning of life.
Now, I won't ruin that for you by telling you what she said because I want you to check it out for yourself, but I will say that her words helped me wipe clean the dark, sticky coating of pain and anger that was dampening my ability to find joy.
And it reminded me that choosing happiness has everything to do with how we look at life.
As my brilliant friend, Rachael Wolff, would say/ask, "Are you coming from a place of fear, lack, and separation or from a place of love?"
I had tailspun into a place of fear and lack.
I know it's incredibly hard to not live in a place of fear right now. Fear of COVID. Fear of loss. Fear for our safety and security. Fear for our kids who are struggling so much right now. Fear for our family and friends, and the world in general.
But there is always light if we choose to look for it. And if we choose to take stock in what we're grateful for and what we can do to help others—no matter how big or small.
I believe that choosing light over dark starts with how you see the world and your place in it.
And what you read at 4:45am in the morning.
(Thank you, Wendy.)
Wendy Miller's article on MEDIUM:
My personal website where I write about healing from abuse:
I haven't seen the latest Flagstaff Business News in person yet, but I know it's out there and should be hitting my mailbox soon! Many thanks to Bonnie Stevens for writing such a wonderful article. It's the first time I've talked with a print reporter about my upcoming book and spiritual journey, as well as Mod Mom and Frank Lloyd Wright.
The link isn't up yet so here's the article in it's entirety:
Mod Mom Furniture Designer Teams Up with Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation
Kiersten Hathcock is a model for perseverance, listening to intuition and stepping through the fear
By Bonnie Stevens, FBN
Going from television sales in Chicago for the A&E network to stay-at-home mom in Los Angeles, Kiersten Hathcock was restless. “In addition to the fact that we needed to make up for my lost income, I realized quickly that I was wired to work and create. In 2006, I set up a garage sale and it looked like the display floor of The Gap. At that point, I knew I needed to do something to foster my creative side while I was home with the kids.”
She also knew she needed toy storage for her young children, ages 1 and 5. But she and her husband, Scott, wanted that toy box to blend with the rest of the mid-century modern furniture in their 1,400-square-foot home. She looked online, she looked on Craigslist. She found only one that she would consider modern.
“We were in L.A., a town that appreciates mid-century modern style. I thought, ‘If I can teach myself how to build furniture, there’s niche here.’ So, I bought a circular saw and Googled ‘how to build furniture.’ The first toy boxes I built were horrible. But I put them on Etsy and sold a couple of them. Later, when I got better, I gave those people new toy boxes.”
Becoming a Carpenter, Building a Brand, Battling Sharks
For four years, Hathcock sawed and sanded and painted, creating over 300 pieces of mid-century modern-style kids’ furniture and building her Mod Mom Furniture brand in her garage. Celebrities became her clientele. So, she drove her minivan into the L.A. foothills to deliver furniture to people like reality television fashion designer Rachel Zoe and actor Matthew McConaughey.
“I wouldn’t trade that time, but boy, did I get tired,” she says. “I was always covered in sawdust and managing the kids at home 24/7.”
Her dad suggested she watch Shark Tank, the television program in which budding entrepreneurs pitch their business idea to famous multi-millionaires in hopes of gaining an investor. After about 30 minutes of considering making her own presentation, she thought, “I should give it a shot.”
She did and she received two offers on the air: one from Robert Herjavec and one from Kevin O'Leary, aka Mr. Wonderful. She went with Herjavec and what appeared to be the better deal. Hathcock left the television studio elated, believing her dreams had come true. But not long after the bright lights of the set had dimmed, so did her hopes. She tried to track down her investor, but learned the deal would not be moving forward.
“I believe everything happens the way it should happen. I picked myself back up and said, ‘I can do this.’” Besides, she’d already received all kinds of free press from publications like People magazine.
The television appearance, which continues to be re-run, along with media exposure surrounding her television offer, brought another interested investor.
"He called from San Francisco and said, ‘I believe in you, tell me what you want.’”
The agreement included $100,000 and she was able to keep more equity in the company than she would have with previous offers.
Hathcock continued to build children’s furniture as the CEO and Founder of Mod Mom Furniture. She also began giving presentations, mostly to high school students and aspiring entrepreneurs, about pursuing their dreams. “I talk a lot about building a brand from nothing, because I didn’t have money to build a brand. I tell them my story and how I went from corporate to carpentry -- nobody does that. But it worked. You can do anything you put your mind to. Be resilient. Don’t quit. Trust your intuition. I had no skill and no money and now I’m designing furniture that’s recognized internationally.”
Teaming Up with Frank Lloyd Wright
A year ago, Hathcock was hired to give a presentation to the American Society of Interior Designers. The new vice president of licensing for the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation was in the audience. Three days later, the two were talking on the phone about creating a children’s furniture line for the organization.
In April, a news released announced, “The American-made, modern kids’ furniture brand, Mod Mom Furniture, and leading toddler furniture maker, Little Colorado, are honored and excited to collaborate with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation to create a line of modern children’s furniture. Some pieces will be inspired by Wright’s furniture designs, while others will be replicas of Wright furniture scaled down for children.”
Little Colorado is the company Hathcock had chosen because of its environmentally sustainable practices. The Frank Lloyd Wright furniture line is called PlayHouse by Mod Mom Furniture. The origin of the brand name was a drawing of the word “playhouse” Wright had created for a client project.
“This was incredible. All of a sudden I’m doing business under the name of America’s most famous architect!” Hathcock is now designing and creating multiple kids’ furniture pieces inspired by Wright’s work.
The nonprofit organization’s President and CEO Stuart Graff said in the news release, “The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation inspires the world through an understanding and experience of Frank Lloyd Wright’s ideas, architecture, and design. Developing a new line of children’s furniture that incorporates Wright’s design principles is a fantastic way to show new generations a beautiful and inspired way of living.”
The first product to hit the market is a play table and chair set. Five different Frank Lloyd Wright graphic designs can be printed directly on the tabletop, or the tabletop can be left in its natural finish. A prototype was on display during Modernism Week in Palm Springs. The foundation says feedback throughout and after the event was so positive that the launch of the brand was moved up to April from August.
Following Her Intuition
During the past decade, while Hathcock was intently focused on the extraordinary ups and down of her children’s furniture business, another astounding developing was happening. More children began coming into her life.
“It started in 2011. I started hearing and seeing children in spirit. As a skeptic and believer in scientific data, I couldn’t wrap my head around what was happening. I thought maybe I’d inhaled too much polyurethane in the workshop.”
From that moment on, many children who had been killed by predators, or who died suddenly, began to visit her. They would communicate to her about their tragic deaths. She thought she was going crazy until she started sharing what she was receiving with law enforcement and grieving parents who validated the messages as correct.
“It’s incredibly emotional work so I had to learn to step outside of myself and just record what I was seeing and hearing. I became like a doctor observing a patient and I would write down what I was being told needed to be shared, she said.
She became a reluctant undercover medium, volunteering to help police officers and detectives solve crimes against children.
“After I’d been volunteering for about two years, visions of myself at a young age starting coming to me. Because I trusted my intuition by that point, I knew to trust what I was getting.”
Long locked-out memories began to reveal themselves to Hathcock. She learned that she too had her own history with a pedophile, assaults by a relative that took place when she was between the ages of 3 and 5. Further, during a three-year split from her husband, Scott, she “fell down a deep hole” in a relationship with a narcissistic sociopath.
“Unbeknownst to me, I was living with a predator,” The spirits of the children were warning her. She says, one in particular named Jason told her to, “’Go get the restraining order now. You have to do it now.’ Had I not left, I believe I would be dead.”
Hathcock’s experiences are now captured in her book with the working title, “Undercover Medium.” She expects it to be on the market in 2021.
Retired New York City Police Department Detective Mark Pucci, who continues to work as a private investigator, wrote the foreword. Here’s an excerpt:
Thinking back to before we had the opportunity to speak on the phone, I remember asking myself, “What is this furniture company CEO from Arizona doing volunteering to assist on a high-profile missing persons case in Long Island, New York?” That being said, when I finally had the chance to speak to Kiersten on the phone for the first time, my intuition kicked into full gear. Much to my surprise, not long into our conversation, I realized that Kiersten was unlike any other intuitive medium I had spoken to through the years. She explained to me that she had recently discovered that she possessed certain abilities that might assist investigators in finding missing persons, and that she was simply looking to volunteer her time because she cared and just wanted to help. I eventually came to understand, as time went on and I got to know Kiersten personally, that she had truly been given a gift for helping others in this way . . . especially kids. The most amazing part of her journey is that she wasn’t looking for any of what has happened to her . . . it simply found her.
Hathcock lives in Flagstaff with her husband Scott. Their two children Grace and Noah are now adults. For more information about Mod Mom Furniture or the book, “Undercover Medium,” visit https://www.modmomfurniture.com/upcoming-book.html
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...