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.