January 18th, 2014 by Kelsey Eaton
You might not expect this from a small furniture company in Vermont, but two of us who work here are bellydancers! (I know, weird right?!) I started teaching classes in Brattleboro last summer, and Liz has been taking them with me ever since. Bellydance is a great way to build confidence, positive body image, and it’s a pretty great workout too!
Today, January 18th 2014, I am hosting a bellydance benefit show for the Womens Freedom Center of Brattleboro. The Womens Freedom center supports women who have been victims of domestic violence with Shelter, a 24 hour safety hotline, Support groups, community education, safety planning, and more! They have been a major part of the Brattleboro community and I’m so glad to be hosting this benefit for them.
What’s even greater is the fact that the Brattleboro community (surrounding towns included) have shown an overwhelming amount of support for our benefit show– including Vermont Woods Studios.
On Saturday, January 18th (today!) Vermont Woods Studios has offered to donate $20 from every order to go towards our benefit for the Womens Freedom Center!
If you’ve been thinking about making a purchase but haven’t had the motivation to buy, let this be your motivation & know that your furniture helped support a wonderful cause. Browse our collections of wood furniture.
Not ready to buy but still want to support the cause? Here’s how you can get involved!
January 14th, 2014 by Peggy Farabaugh
Editors note: OK, this is really me (Peggy) but I found this old photo of our Marketing Manager Dennis Shanoff and it got me wondering how we ever survived the early days of start-up.
Eight years ago I started this online furniture store. I had no experience with ecommerce— or any sort of business for that matter. I am a chemist by education and a teacher by trade. I had recently lost my job, I was approaching my 50th birthday and I decided my next career was going to be my last. Thirty years after graduating from high school I would finally take the advice my guidance counselor offered: “follow your passion”.
Fast forward a few years after (a slow) start-up. I’ve just hired a “Marketing Manager”, Dennis Shanoff. It’s his first day on the job. I’m imagining this conversation he’s texting to his wife:
Dennis Shanoff: My boss is a cat
Dennis: sends selfie (above)
Dennis: I’m sitting at a desk in this lady’s spare bedroom trying to figure out how I’m going to build a furniture brand around her passion
Susan: which is?
Dennis: saving the rainforest
Susan: from Vermont?
Dennis: most furniture is made from rainforest woods. Peggy’s trying to raise awareness about that and promote sustainable Vermont made furniture instead
Susan: OK so it’s a stretch. Don’t panic
Luckily Dennis didn’t panic. Four years after what must have been an unnerving first day at work, Dennis Shanoff has helped transform a fledgling start-up that no one believed would ever get off the ground, into a small business with a reasonable chance of long-term survival.
I don’t think our story is that atypical for small businesses in Vermont or throughout America for that matter. It’s full of hopes and dreams and absurdity. Luck, misfortune and determination. But more than anything it’s a story of how a small group of disparate entrepreneurs managed to leverage their differences in an effort to change the world.
My friend Annette thinks I should start reflecting on this unorthodox journey with Vermont Woods Studios and share my memories here and on Medium.com. Maybe others with a passion to make the world a better place will find or offer encouragement. Think? Let me know (on Facebook or in the comments section below) if you’d be interested to read more start-up stories about Dennis, Douglas, Ken and the gang.
January 11th, 2014 by Peggy Farabaugh
I just received my January 2014 edition of the VCE newsletter and wanted to share some highlights with you. VCE is one of my favorite non-profits. It’s a group of dedicated researchers and scientists working to promote conservation and biodiversity in the Green Mountains and beyond.
The hardworking naturalists at VCE have an amazing array of research and citizen science projects going on throughout Vermont. I first learned about them when Kendall and Riley were little and we got involved with vernal pool mapping and spotted salamander crossing projects. Over the years we’ve also participated in the development of a Vermont breeding bird atlas and surveys of Vermont’s butterflies and bumble bees.
Another project I follow is VCE’s Caribbean bird conservation which seeks to protect migratory birds that spend their summers in Vermont and winters in Central America and the Caribbean. This project ties in to our mission of rainforest conservation at Vermont Woods Studios.
If you’re in Vermont or the Caribbean and looking to do some fun and interesting work in conservation, have a look at VCE’s website. It includes a wealth of information and dozens of opportunities to volunteer with like-minded people who love nature and wildlife. As noted on their website, VCE’s success is highly dependent on your help. Their work “gathers strength from volunteers who monitor wildlife in the Northeast and from a network of professional partners that extends from Canada to South America. This approach is successful because conservation is as much about people as it is about science. With a reach extending from northeastern Canada through the Caribbean to South America, our work in wildlife research and monitoring unites people and science for conservation.”
You can meet fascinating people, have some fun and make the world a better place by volunteering as a citizen scientist for VCE. Why not give them a call today?
January 1st, 2014 by Peggy Farabaugh
People ask me why on earth I would put a fine furniture store in the middle of nowhere, aka rural Vermont. Finding people who are looking to buy American made sustainable wooden furniture is hard enough. After all, customers typically have to wait 6-12+ weeks to have their furniture custom handcrafted and specialty shipped to their homes. Plus… compared to imported furniture, American made furniture is more expensive. With such a small number of people fitting our customer profile (willing to wait for their furniture to be handcrafted of sustainably harvested wood by Vermonters earning a living wage), wouldn’t it be smarter to have our store on main street in a big city with maximum exposure and traffic?
I’m sure that’s true for most fine furniture stores but at Vermont Woods Studios we’re on a mission to raise awareness about where your fine furniture comes from. Wood furniture comes from the forest and we believe the people involved in all aspects of furnishing your home have an opportunity to show you how choosing sustainable furniture makes a difference: in forest conservation, global warming, clean air, wildlife preservation and in the way you feel when you’re sharing a meal at your table.
See this barred owl who visited us at Stonehurst today? He’s able to be here because (under the direction of professional forester Lynn Levine) we’re managing 100 acres of forest for wildlife habitat. We believe businesses have as much obligation as governments to conserve our planet’s resources and protect endangered species. We believe our customers support that philosophy and want to see it in action. As we venture into the new year we extend our thanks to them and pledge our continued efforts in the area of forest and wildlife conservation.
Come visit our sustainable furniture showroom at Stonehurst. See first-hand how your choice of furniture can make the world a better place.
December 31st, 2013 by Kelsey Eaton
Now that the holidays are behind us and a fresh new year lies ahead, I can’t help but start thinking about my new years resolutions and the ways in which this year will be different. I’m not one for hoping to lose weight or become rich in the new year, but rather, I hope to make small behavioral changes that can improve communities and help change lives. Shopping small and buying handmade products is one way in which I hope to make a difference this year as someone who loves to shop!
There are many different reasons why shopping handmade is important, and could make a great resolution for you too! It’s important to note that there is no WRONG reason, and that each of us has our own connection with the idea of shopping small.
1) Community: By buying something handmade, you might feel a special connection to the place where you bought it from. That feeling of camaraderie makes your purchase that much more special and important, because you know you are supporting a real person and place and that the maker deeply appreciates creating something special for you.
2) Mindful Spending: A phrase I’ve heard a lot recently is “every dollar you spend is a vote.” This has greatly influenced the way I see my spending, as the things we buy can certainly be seen as an extension of our selves.
3) Love: Buying handmade is a wonderful way to show love and support for a local artist, craftsman, local business, etc.
4) Originality: No two items are ever exactly the same when you buy handmade. Besides being able to customize your item to your liking, you can feel good knowing that your purchase was really made just for you.
5) Eco-Friendly: Shopping small and handmade is usually an indication that you are making a sustainably responsible purchase; many crafters use mostly locally sourced materials and do their best to ensure that their creations don’t have a negative impact on the environment.
Shopping small is important to each of us at Vermont Woods Studios, and its a central part of our mission. By making small changes in your shopping habits, you can be a part of a huge movement to support what matters… the people.
Wishing you a very happy new year filled with love, prosperity, and health!
December 10th, 2013 by Peggy Farabaugh
Christmas is the season for helping others in our communities. Here in Vernon and throughout Southeastern Vermont we have many great organizations that are looking for donations and support. Your gift of time, money, food or clothing could change someone’s life. Often it’s a matter of putting food on a family’s table or helping with heating expenses but it can also mean providing a little girl with the first warm coat she’s ever had.
A couple of our favorite local charities are Project Feed the Thousands, Toys for Tots and the Christmas Stocking sponsored by the Brattleboro Reformer. We have collection bins here at Stonehurst if you’re looking for a place to drop things off. We’ll be delivering items to the Vernon Police Department next Friday, December 20. By the way, if you haven’t checked out the PD’s Facebook page (“Ho ho ho from the Vernon PoPo“), it’s worth a look. Lots of good local information and weather-road conditions reported there.
Wishing you a very Merry Christmas season with lots of giving and hopefully some receiving too!
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.