We had the good fortune of connecting with Kiersten Parsons Hathcock and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kiersten Parsons, how did you come up with the idea for your business?
Entrepreneurship wasn’t something I strived to do when I was in my twenties. I thought I was destined to climb the corporate ladder, and I did just that until our kids were one-year-old and five-years-old. I was 33-years-old when I went from corporate to carpentry. After leaving a marketing career with A&E and The History Channel in 2003, we moved from Chicago to LA for my husband’s job. I took contract gigs and even nannied for a few years before I came up with the idea for Mod Mom Furniture as a means to make money and continue to be home with my kids. As an avid mid-century modern furniture fan, I saw a need in the marketplace and figured if I could teach myself how to build furniture, I could launch my products online using my marketing know-how. The hard part was not the marketing, but rather figuring out if I even liked carpentry, and if I could do it without losing a finger or two. (Fifteen years later, I still have all 10 digits!) The first toy box I designed in 2006 was inspired by my Grandma Theda’s old split-top record player from the 1960s.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I knew when I started Mod Mom Furniture that I wanted to build furniture that was safe for kids and heirloom quality. I wanted my pieces to be passed down from generation to generation. From the get-go, I believe this helped Mod Mom stand out. Also, I’ve found over the years that many moms were just like me. They strive to figure out how to balance work and motherhood. While I wanted to grow professionally, I also wanted to spend as much time with my kids as possible. Entrepreneurship was the solution for me, and my story of being a mom in a garage resonated with many folks across the world. It hasn’t been easy, by any means. The road to where I am now was paved with mistakes, redirections, lost deals, and chauvinism like I’d not seen before. I was playing in the old boys network, and some were not all that happy about it.
By trusting my intuition, I was able to survive some pretty serious heartbreak moments. First up, I won an investment deal on the TV show Shark Tank in 2011. But three months after filming stopped, I learned that Robert Herjavec thought my company was still too small. I was devastated but decided to press on. A year later, I received an investment offer from a true angel investor who saw my Shark Tank segment on Hulu. I received more money and gave away less equity than the Shark Tank deal that died.
Two years after that, in 2014, I’d learn that the licensing deal I worked on for eight months was dead in the water, too. In that case, I was hired by Stanley Furniture to be the spokesperson for their kids’ furniture line and Stanley was going to produce and expand my furniture line, projecting five million in sales for the first year. When I stepped off the plane to sign the licensing deal on April 1, 2014, I learned that Stanley had shut down their youth furniture division. The gut punch was swift, and my head spun while I tried to come to grips with my new reality. Still, my intuition said to keep going. I struggled for a few years to find the right partners but now, my furniture is being made by a wonderful, family owned company in Colorado called Little Colorado, and we inked a deal with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation to design and produce the first-ever Frank Lloyd Wright inspired kids’ furniture line. We launched last year during the beginning of the pandemic and are expanding the line as we speak. As someone who taught herself to build furniture, the partnership with America’s most celebrated architect is surreal, to say the least.
I’ve learned over the years that the lost deals were actually just redirections to something better. And they taught me that if I trust the small voice inside of me that says “keep going,” I will end up where I’m meant to be.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
We feel lucky every day to live in the mountain town of Flagstaff, Arizona. Some of our favorite haunts are The Annex Cocktail Lounge, Karma Sushi, and Josephine’s. When friends and family come to town, we always take them downtown to explore the shops and the historic buildings like The Weatherford Hotel, which was established in 1897. At 7000 feet elevation, Flagstaff is a winter escape for folks living in Phoenix. Snow Bowl ski hill is very popular for obvious reasons.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I wouldn’t be where I am today without the love and support of my parents. My dad, a self-taught carpenter/teacher/football coach, used to make furniture for our house made from old bleacher boards. He’s one of those people who can design and fix anything. Both of my parents encouraged me from a young age that I could do whatever I set my mind to in life. There were no gender boundaries. Watching my dad build furniture when I was young modeled that I, too, could try whatever I felt drawn to no matter how much it didn’t make sense to the rest of the world. Without that foundation, I wouldn’t have had the guts to try carpentry and furniture design without a background in either.
I also want to shoutout to my husband, Scott. Despite how crazy my idea to build and sell furniture sounded, Scott was all in. He encouraged me to start Mod Mom and he cheered me on along the rocky road of entrepreneurship.
Other: kierstenhathcock.com – my personal website where I talk about intuition and healing from abuse
Tanya Malott: Headshot ABC Shark Tank: Shark Tank photo