KIERSTEN HATHCOCK'S experience as a marketing executive proved useful when she decided to launch Mod Mom Furniture, a line of handmade midcentury modern-inspired furnishings for kids. After leaving a corporate job at A&E; and the History Channel to spend more time with her children, the self-taught carpenter did some market research and found a lack of modern furnishings for kids (translation: furniture that grown-ups like too). So she built some prototypes for family and friends and then created a website to show them, "just so I could get into some stores," says Hathcock in her garage workshop in L.A. To her surprise, she began receiving inquiries from as far away as Italy, France and London. Her plywood toy boxes such as Bertie Box, $250, shown here, began selling. Now she's having a hard time keeping up with production. "I'm booked through July." Her clients tell her they are drawn to Mod Mom because the products are hand-drawn, hand-cut and built by a mom in her garage. Production isn't always easy. Hathcock says a typical day might include production (cutting heavy sheets of plywood), coercion (getting a preschooler to tag along to buy wood) and hospitalization (landing in the emergency room after being cut by a biscuit joiner). "I think there is a lot of value in my kids seeing me work," she says of tackling a male-dominated profession. "I don't have to lose my femininity just because I know how to use a saw," she adds, laughing. Indeed. $250 to $550; www.modmomfurniture.com.
-- Lisa Boone