Vermont Woods Studios Handmade Furniture

start up

My Boss is a Cat

January 14th, 2014 by Peggy Farabaugh

My Boss is a Cat

She’s fat, bossy and demanding but when it comes to tough decisions –nobody puts Pepper in a corner.   Article originally posted on

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

Susan: huh?

Dennis: sends selfie (above)

Susan: lol

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

Susan: Yet

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 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.


Vermont Furniture Online: A Look Behind the Scenes

March 27th, 2011 by Peggy Farabaugh

Bare-Naked-Business Sometimes our customers at Vermont Woods Studios Online Furniture are understandably a little nervous plunking down thousands of dollars on fine furniture they've not been able to experience in person.  We're adding new details and videos to our website all the time but I also wanted to give people an honest and candid sense of who we are and how we run our small business here in rural Vermont. 

That's how Bare Naked Business came about.  It's a behind the scenes look at the fabulous and crazy people who make Vermont Woods Studios the awesome company it is.  I'm infinitely proud of this group and the super human things they keep achieving every new day.  The best part is that we love doing it – we have a blast because we're working on projects and goals we feel are worthy of our time and talents.

Another reason I wanted to start Bare Naked Business is to create a community of like-minded entrepreneurs who are running (or thinking of starting) a small business on a shoestring.  At Vermont Woods Studios we are living proof that this can be done, even during tough economic times and we believe that by collaborating with others, we can all benefit and at the same time – make the world a better place.  Check out Bare Naked Business and let us know what you think about it.  We're looking for feedback, suggestions, tips, advice and ideas about what you'd like to see in future episodes.