October 4th, 2013 by Kelsey Eaton
We would like to congratulate the Middlebury College Solar Decathlon team for their hard work and progress on their solar home! The team are currently in Irvine, California constructing InSite for the competition! We applaud the team for their efforts and dedication to creating an unforgettable eco-friendly home, and their passion for helping showcase Vermont business throughout its design!
This is our 3rd year supporting the Middlebury Team in their Energy Solar Decathalon efforts!
Eleanor Krause from the Middlebury Team expressed her excitement about bringing the home and its Vermont made contents, to a global stage. She hopes that “the heart and quality of our local Vermont products really shines through, and will hopefully inspire all who visit to think more about supporting local and sustainable business.”
Below you will find several beautiful photos of the table in the solar home. Good luck team!
October 4th, 2013 by Loryn Dion
Looking for an excuse to be outside this weekend and enjoy the beautiful Vermont fall that we’re having? This Saturday you can do just that and support a great cause! Our friends over at the Morningside Shelter in Brattleboro are hosting the third annual Hike for the Homeless on October 5th on Mt. Wantastiquet in Hinsdale, NH. Registration starts at 9:30 am and 11:30 am on Saturday so plan to be there early!
This event is held to raise money that will help to house the homeless in Brattleboro and the surrounding communities during the coming winter. You can either hike to the summit of Mt. Wantastiquet or take a stroll along the River Trail at the base of the mountain. Participants are encouraged to raise funds and walk as a team or individually. The suggested minimum for individuals is $50 and teams is $250. The foliage right now is spectacular, so whatever route you choose to take, you’ll be in for some outstanding views.
The Morningside Shelter offers extended stay housing for up to 29 individuals and families. Also, they work with other organizations to provide people with services such as job placement, medical treatment, counseling, budget and nutrition management, education, childcare service, transition back into housing as tenants and more. The Morningside Shelter has been helping the homeless for over 30 years and is committed to serving the Brattleboro area.
As a furniture company, we believe that everyone deserves a place to stay and a bed to sleep in. We love the work that Morningside is doing and support the strides that they are making for the homeless community in the Brattleboro area.
September 23rd, 2013 by Peggy Farabaugh
Robin’s been crafting beautiful fine wooden furniture for over 25 years and it’s always fun to visit his workshop in pastoral Calais, Vermont. Besides seeing all of his works in progress we got to tour the Maple Corner campus and meet the furry sentinels that guard and patrol the grounds (see photo).
It was a very productive meeting and it didn’t hurt that it was in a setting of Robin and Annie’s herbal gardens and central Vermont’s rolling hills.
I see Robin’s furniture as a reflection of his own demeanor: elegant,
refined and genuine. He’s a master at combining authentic Shaker sensibilities with modern, contemporary design. Check out his furniture creations on our website:
Each of Robin’s pieces is backed by the craftsman’s lifetime guarantee. Let us know which ones you like most on our Facebook or in the comments section below.
September 11th, 2013 by Michelle Rooks
I love a good bargain. Being a family on a budget with two fashion-conscious daughters, it can be tough to be budget-smart and keep up with fashion trends. Enter the women at Jessica’s Closet in Wilmington, VT and their lovely dresses available for rent. I first heard of this gem when Douglas’ daughter found her prom dress there. Our turn came when we were invited to a wedding this summer at the Harvard Club in Boston. None of the women of the family was happy with the dresses she already had. We made the journey to Wilmington and were very impressed with the boutique we found there. More than 1200 dresses, long and short, in any color imaginable…and all the accessories to go with them. The cost? A donation of $10 is suggested to cover dry cleaning costs.
Jessica, daughter of founder, Debbie Bolognani, was an active young woman “with a smile that could light more than a room.” She died in a tragic accident in 2010. “She LOVED to dress up and was always willing to share her closet with others.” In her honor Debbie and her friends established Jessica’s Closet as well as a a scholarship fund and Jessica’s Locker which is dedicated to providing sports equipment to the youth of their community.
The mission of Jessica’s Closet is to build confidence and self-esteem in young women. They provide formal and semi-formal dresses to those who otherwise would not be able to attend homecoming, prom or other special events. If you have gently worn formal wear—donations of dresses, purses, shoes, and accessories are welcome!
My daughters and I spent about an hour at Jessica’s Closet. We had our own “stylist” and every dress was beautiful. It was difficult to make a decision and in the end, we took home more than we needed. The price was so reasonable and we didn’t buy dresses that may never be worn again. That is true sustainability.
While Vermont Woods Studios is known for beautiful, American-made furniture crafted from carefully harvested wood, we also believe in recognizing other individuals and organizations who have a mission and make a difference in their community. Debbie and her friends have done an amazing job of fulfilling Jessica’s legacy for helping others …because every girl deserves to feel like a Princess.
August 29th, 2013 by Kelsey Eaton
Sustainability matters, it really does. Our planet is going through some major changes that I’m sure many of us have noticed– from entire species of animals being wiped out, to our rainforests being clear-cut, to the majorly devastating natural disasters occurring throughout the world. Big things are happening, and I don’t mean to scare anyone, but it has come time for us as people to take responsibility for our contribution to global climate change and its consequences. We have to start acting responsibly and be very conscious in our efforts to reduce our individual impact on the world!
It won’t be easy, but as a leading nation, it is up to Americans to set a positive example to the rest of the world! Can you envision a green future for the USA? A place where we manage our forests responsibly, care for our animals, & support sustainable business rather than greedy CEOs who allow child labor and unsafe factory conditions? A place where we take a second to think about what we are supporting when we make a purchase? A place where sustainable shopping is the norm? I can!
The tragedy that occurred in Bangladesh was extremely eye opening for me– especially when it comes to the companies who refused to agree to safer factory standards. It makes sense… these giant corporations are profiting majorly off of practices that are extremely harmful to the environment and the people who work for them. It’s unacceptable. I like to think that every dollar you spend is a vote, and my question is, who (and what) are you voting for?
I vote for companies with strict environmental standards, companies who believe that our future (and the future of our children, grandchildren, and beyond) is in our hands. I vote for companies who take responsibility and make positive efforts to decrease their environmental impact. I vote for companies who pay their workers fairly and don’t expose them to dangerous conditions. I vote for a green future, a happier, healthier future!
I challenge you to take a look around your home and think about where your products are coming from. Were they made in a factory overseas or by an American craftsman? Were they made from sustainably managed forests or were they made from wood harvested from the rainforest? Does the company you “voted” for have safe, ethical standards of pay and work conditions for their employees?
Just think about it. Literally envision your favorite items in your home being made, and the hands that created them. That’s the first step– just become aware that as consumers, we have the power to change the world. Every dollar is a vote!
August 17th, 2013 by Kelsey Eaton
Every Friday Peggy goes to the local nursing home and picks up meals on wheels for local Vernon residents. But on Friday, Sean and I got to go out and meet some awesome senior folks from the area and deliver their meals on wheels! We handed out a weekends worth of cold and hot food to nine different people around the town. It was great to see how happy and appreciative they were of the food, and we were really glad that we got the experience to meet them and be a part of the program. It was interesting to see that for some people there was more than just the food to really look forward to… it was just being around someone who was eager to say hello and listen to a story or to (or three or more for some people!)
When I first applied to Vermont Woods Studios, one of the things that really excited me was the fact that the company is mission driven. And while our mission is about sustainability, caring for your neighbors (particularly those in need) is a practice of sustainability. When you form a connection with your community members and neighbors, even something as small as volunteering to drop off food to local elderly people once a week is improving your local, community environment. It’s helping people sustain healthy, comfortable lives, and ending senior hunger!
Programs like meals on wheels are so encouraging. It helps you see that the little things count so much, and it only takes one action to really make someones day! If you’re having a bad day, I’d challenge you to go out and do something nice for someone in need, it’s hard to feel bad when you are making someone else smile.
To get involved with your local meals on wheels program, visit the Meals on Wheels Association of America!
August 12th, 2013 by Peggy Farabaugh
One of the best things about running a sustainable furniture business is that our customers are people who care about how we treat the environment and the people we work with. They’ve come to us because they are willing to pay a premium for high quality, American made furniture that’s crafted from sustainably harvested wood– by furniture makers who are paid a fair, livable wage.
Yesterday we received this note from Wayne J:
I appreciated the description of your commitment to sustainability. I would also like to know how you care for the artisans and trades people who build and ship the furniture. What percentage of the price flows to these people? Are they paid a living wage? What is the ratio of their pay to that of the CEO? Are they making enough to create for themselves safe environments for doing their work. For me to do repeat business at this price point, it will be important to have answers to these questions as well.
These are great questions. I would ask the same thing if I was a customer and I thought you might be interested in the answers, so I decided to post them here. I’ll break it down into Compensation and Occupational Safety & Health.
Vermont Woods Studios is set up as a marketing and sales company. We actually don’t build much furniture anymore (we started out with Ken building furniture but as we grew, he couldn’t keep up, so we got him doing the bookkeeping instead). So we don’t directly employ furniture makers. We work with independent Vermont furniture makers, either buying furniture wholesale and selling retail or via commission or referral fees.
From the beginning, we set Vermont Woods Studios up as a mission-driven company, that is: To conserve forests and artistic woodworking while providing our customers with the best selection, value, quality and service available for Vermont made wood furniture.
Because Ken is a woodworker, we are well aware of the amount of time and effort that goes into a piece of handcrafted furniture. We have a middle ground to walk between helping Vermont furniture companies and craftspeople achieve high quality jobs and providing our customers with the best value for their furniture. All the while we must compensate our marketing, sales and web development staff as best we can.
As for the CEO’s salary… well that would be mine. I haven’t actually taken a salary yet, per se. We are in our 8th year at Vermont Woods Studios and as other small business owners will attest, much of the early years involves investing and rolling profits back into the business, rather than taking a salary. For now, I am sustained with the knowledge that if we meet our challenge of creating efficiencies in the Vermont furniture making and shipping system, we’ll end up with a win-win-win-win situation: for woodworkers, customers, Vermont Woods Studios employees (including me) and the environment.
Vermont has the highest environmental standards of any state in the nation. As for the safety and health of the woodworkers that craft furniture for Vermont Woods Studios, I believe all the companies we work with (both large and small) go above and beyond federal and state OSHA and EPA regulations. Prior to starting this company I worked in environmental and occupational health and safety for 20+ years, with my most recent work in this occupation was at Tulane’s Center for Applied Environmental Public Health. That experience, plus the fact that Ken has an active woodworking shop gives me confidence in my assessment of the safety and health protections our woodworking partners employ. I do realize that we have to take a more active role in documenting safety, health and sustainability compliance amongst our partners in the future, though.
If you’re interested in additional details regarding sustainability, livable wages and worker safety at Vermont Woods Studios, please browse through our fine furniture website to learn about:
and give me a call or email me to suggest ways for us to continually improve.
* Not all of our craftspeople have their own businesses. Many work for larger companies, like Copeland Furniture. Read more about sustainability and the treatment of craftspeople at Copeland Furniture here.
considered proprietary information
according tothe Vermont Department of Labor, the average annual salary for a Vermont woodworker is $ 32,440
August 8th, 2013 by Peggy Farabaugh
Hard wood furniture lovers, beware! At this very moment, armies of invasive bugs and diseases are on the prowl, hunting down your favorite maple, oak, cherry, walnut and other backyard trees to turn them into food and bedding for their young. Check out this article by Faith Campbell in the Nature Conservancy blog, “How to Save Countless Trees in 10 Minutes or Less“.
Faith talks about the dreaded Asian Longhorn Beetle ALB, one of many non-native insects and diseases that have been brought to America accidentally by way of imported plants or in crates and pallets. Vermont’s iconic maples, along with elms, ash, and oaks are a favorite home to these large, shiny, black and white beetles from Asia.
The entire Northern hardwood forest is at risk and if we can’t get people like you to help fight back, 48 million acres in the United States plus the majority of Canada’s hardwood forests could be destroyed. Also at risk are shade trees along city streets and in backyards all across the country. The ALB could kill up to two thirds of urban trees if it becomes established!
There are many ways you can help keep invasive killer bugs and diseases from destroying our hardwoods. Here are some suggestions from VermontInvasives.org
By working together can we fight the killer bugs that threaten our forests, our food supplies, our waters and the thousands of jobs dependent on them. You can help stop the spread and protect the natural resources you love.
July 29th, 2013 by Peggy Farabaugh
July 29th is Global Tiger Day. Did you know there is a direct connection between tiger conservation and the furniture and flooring you buy for your home? Companies like IKEA, Home Depot and WalMart sell wooden furniture and flooring that are often obtained through illegal logging in protected tiger habitats. Much of the global timber trade is now managed by organized crime. Sources, including George Mason University and The Washington Post are reporting that the global timber trade is the new heroin industry for organized crime. Tiger habitats are being rapidly and systematically destroyed in Russia, China, Malaysia and elsewhere to provide the cheap, imported wooden furniture and flooring that’s sold in America’s big box stores.
As a result, some scientists predict that the last remaining 3200 wild tigers (down from 100,000 just a century ago) will be entirely extinct in 5 years.
As an apex predator, the tiger is one of the most important animals in all of human history. If you love tigers, have a look at the World Wildlife Fund’s initiative to double the number of wild tigers by 2022, the next Year of the Tiger. You can support the effort by purchasing sustainable products. At Vermont Woods Studios, we promote American made furniture as it is almost always made with North American wood, harvested from well managed forests. We’re using our new Stonehurst fine furniture and art gallery to raise awareness about where your furniture comes from and persuade people to purchase furniture and flooring made from sustainably harvested wood.
Tigers are running out of space and time with only 7% of their habitat remaining but your decisions about buying furniture flooring and even paper, coffee and other forest products can help save them. It’s not too late! Please like our Tiger conservation initiative on Facebook and share this post with your friends. Thanks!
July 24th, 2013 by Kelsey Eaton
We are always happy to collaborate with organizations that make sustainability a central part of their mission, which is why we were really excited to see that we were published in Inhabitat! Inhabitat is a weblog that is dedicated to sustainable design, green innovation, and technology; they write and post stories related to sustainable building practices, materials, architecture, and design! Like us, they believe in a more conscious and ecologically focused future. I would consider them the Number 1 source website for sustainable design news around the globe.
If you are interested in green building, energy efficient home living, green interior design, emerging technologies, renewable energy, or sustainable product design– Inhabitat is most definitely the place you should go for some of the most interesting sustainability related stories around the web.
Another thing we love about Inhabitat is that they are constantly streaming information throughout the day, so there is never a shortage of sustainable stories to read and be inspired by! Also, stories are short and to the point (what I like to call, microstories) so you can get a wealth of information without having to search for the good stuff. Links are always provided so the reader can do independent research of their own, pretty neat!