Today’s Huffington Post features an article about Vermont Woods Studios by our favorite journalist and champion of women in business, Laura Dunn. The article is part of a series spotlighting the contributions of a diverse spectrum of women leading commercial businesses, academic institutions, media outlets, governments and non-profits. We are infinitely grateful to Laura for including me and Vermont Woods Studios in her line-up of famous and not so famous people who are working to change the world.
In addition to writing for the Huffington Post, Politico and The Daily Beast, Laura has her own successful blog, Political Style, which discusses politics, fashion and culture. Although she hails from across the pond, Laura interned in the US House of Representatives for Rep. Patrick J Kennedy and has worked on many election campaigns. She currently works for an Assembly Member at the National Assembly for Wales. Her feature on Vermont Woods Studios explores why we started the company and highlights the green mission that holds us together through thick and thin.
I want to take this opportunity to shout out a word of thanks to our customers, employees and other partners who have made Vermont Woods Studios successful over our 10 year existence. You are the real heroes — the ones who are fueling the movement and making our sustainable furniture business possible. We are deeply grateful.
Every couple weeks, Sean sends a survey out to customers who have recently had our Vermont made furniture delivered to their homes. We want to make sure that we’ve met & hopefully exceeded customer expectations. And of course if we’ve fallen down on the job in any way, we have to ensure we’ve made things right with the customer and upgraded our systems so mistakes don’t happen again. Surveys also give us a chance to ask our customers what changes they think we should make to better serve their future needs. Occasionally though, we slip in a question that quite honestly, could be seen as a little self-serving… like:
What were the most important factors in your decision to buy from Us?
Quality craftsmanship is always a recurring theme in response to this question. Here are some other specific responses that Sean and I were reading today:
“We wanted to support a local business when its price-point was the same as large online retailers. The personal touch was important as well”
“Styles available; quality and source of woods; friendly, knowledgeable, helpful sales person (Rebecca)”
“The guarantee; that it was made in the U.S.; the pleasant people who responded to our question”
“You build with walnut and cherry. Best woods for furniture. I had just finished a walnut table and needed the chairs to be of the same wood. The combination is spectacular!”
“Price and having a basic design that you were willing to alter, and having had a sale that covered the cost of the alteration to the design. It was also a help that you’re close enough to Boston that I could go arrange the alterations in person – we looked at a several of tables.”
Then there was this one from Phyllis W:
“I am not a wealthy person, but when I buy something, I want to love what I buy”
To me, that says it all. It’s the bottom line and the reason we work so hard to keep this small business in business. We want our customers to love what they buy. To Phyllis and everyone who has invested their valuable time in responding to Sean’s customer satisfaction surveys: thank you for helping us to continually improve and further our mission of furnishing a greener world. We hope you love your new furniture!
Every now and then at Stonehurst (now our Vermont furniture showroom) we’re treated to a blast from the past. Our property dates back to the 1860s when it was a farmhouse and since then it’s had many and varied identities. From the 1940s to the 1960s Stonehurst was a local ski area with 3 rope tows. It was called Pine Top and every now and then we get special visitors who stop by to see how it’s changed and share their memories of family vacations here. Recently we had the pleasure of meeting Sigrid Oscarson who stopped by with her husband Bill Wares. I wanted to share Sigrid’s memories with those of you who remember Pine Top. Did you know Sigrid and her family?
A Visit from Sigrid Oscarson Wares
My husband and I visited with Peggy and Ken last Friday. They were gracious to show us Vermont Woods Studios, formerly known as Pine Top. I grew up in Vermont and spent many days skiing as well as celebrating holidays there. My Godparents, Elsie and Romey Racine were the owners. My father helped to maintain the rope tows very often using a combination of his well-honed automotive skills, true grit with sheer determination, and lots of prayer! It was always a work in progress.
“I came across this picture of me skiing at Pine Top. From these humble beginnings I have maintained a life-long love affair with this sport and even became a ski instructor for a period of time. Growing up in Vermont was a wonderful experience of which Pine Top was a very integral part. Looking at the ski garb makes me wonder how any of us survived the cold! Any one who skied there will tell you that they went through several pairs of mittens in one season due to the friction of the rope tow. We would all cram into the “Warming Hut” as it was affectionately called, to toast our frozen fingers and toes near the pot belly stove while munching on hamburgers or hot dogs with hot chocolate and brownies (made by my mother). It was truly a family effort.
Thank you for showing us the beautiful renovations you have performed on this most wonderful “home” that holds so many memories for me. Your organization is truly an excellent steward of the property and that warms my heart.”
We’re sending thanks out to everyone who gathered with us at Stonehurst this week to begin making Vernon, Vermont a Monarch Butterfly Way Station. If you’re interested in the environment and nature, please consider joining us in this fun project! You can learn more about our efforts to save the endangered monarch butterfly here.
Vernon has many master gardeners and butterfly enthusiasts! We shared some milkweed seedlings (the Monarch caterpillar’s only food source) and will begin planting them in our gardens and back yards. We’re also reaching out to the Vernon Elementary School VES, the recreation department and the roads commissioner, asking them to support the project by planting milkweed where appropriate on public land.
In August and September we will meet again when the Monarchs are laying their eggs and beginning their metamorphoses. Please contact us through our Facebook if you’re interested in joining our butterfly rescue project or starting one in your own town. It’s fun, and there’s wine. What more could you ask for?
Trees. Who knew? We founded Vermont Woods Studios 10 years ago on a mission of forest conservation. Now we’re learning even more about the magic of trees: they’re the key to improved memory, health, wealth & happiness! Take a leaf out of these new scientific studies that make it official:
Trees improve memory: A research team at the University of Michigan gave people a memory test, then assigned some of them to walk through downtown and others to walk through the woods. The participants were tested again upon their return, and the group that took the nature walk scored significantly better!
Trees treat depression & improve happiness: The same researchers at UM assessed the moods of people with major depression, then assigned some of them to walk through downtown and others to walk through the woods. After the strolls, the people who’d been through the woods showed greater improvement in “positive affect” — an emotional state typically low in depressed patients.
Trees improve mental health: Researchers gathered data on antidepressant prescriptions across London and paired that with data on the number of trees in the same area. The places with higher tree densities had significantly lower prescription rates.
Trees save your money AND your life: according to Treehugger, about 850 lives are saved each year, the number of acute respiratory symptoms is lower by about 670,000 incidents each year, and the total health care savings attributed to pollution removal by trees is around $7 billion a year.
We’ve been talking forever about how trees provide food, shelter & housing. And how they combat pollution & global warming. And how they provide some of the world’s most effective cancer medications. So today, I thought it might be fitting to bring a few newly discovered advantages of trees to light.
From all the tree huggers at Vermont Woods Studios– Here’s to your memory, health, wealth & happiness!