We’re On a Mission

Last updated on August 14th, 2018 at 02:37 pm

2015 Accomplishments

Ken and I started this Vermont furniture store 10 years ago with the belief that businesses have a responsibility to make the world a better place.  In developing a company that sells handcrafted wooden furniture we wanted to raise awareness about forest conservation and persuade customers to purchase furniture made from sustainably harvested, North American wood.  A decade later, we’re not naive enough to think we’ve changed the world but perhaps we’ve changed a tiny part of it and that feels good.  Here are some highlights of what our team accomplished this year in support of our local community and our environmental mission:

Plant a Billion Trees Project

 Vermont Furniture Store environmental mission: conservation
Vermont Woods Studios was founded on the mission of forest conservation and since the beginning, we’ve partnered with The Nature Conservancy to plant a tree for each order we take.  This year it was well over 1000 trees.

Monarch Habitat Restoration Project

Vermont Furniture Store environmental mission: habitat restoration
Nina, Peggy and other team members planted native milkweed seeds for a project that’s restoring habitat for monarch butterflies in Southeastern Vermont.

Vernon’s Giving Tree

Vermont Furniture Store environmental mission: giving back
Megan and other team members worked with officials from the Town of Vernon to provide Christmas gifts to local families in need.

Connecticut River Clean-up

Vermont Furniture Store environmental mission: river clean up
Ken, Sean and a bunch more team members participated in the Connecticut River Watershed Council’s (CRWC) yearly “Source to Sea” trash cleanup of the Connecticut River.  Afterwards we cooled off at Nesbitt’s Portside Tavern 🙂

Meals on Wheels

Vermont Furniture Store environmental mission: meals on wheels
Kelsey helped Riley deliver Meals on Wheels, an activity this Vermont furniture store has done every Friday since the company was created.

Vermont Food Bank Thanksgiving Project

vermont-food-bank
We helped the Vermont Food Bank distribute food during the annual “Pack to Give Back” event in Brattleboro this Thanksgiving.

Salamander Conservation

salamander-conservation
Vermont Woods Studios supported BEEC (Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center) at their annual Salamander Soiree, an event that raises awareness about amphibian migration. Some team members also went out at night and helped salamanders cross the roads on their journey to local vernal pools.

River Arts Gallery Auction

river-gallery-fundraiser
We donated a handmade wooden bed to the annual River Gallery Arts fundraiser in Brattleboro.

Wags to Riches Auction

wags-riches
Vermont Woods Studios donated a 3-Day weekend stay at Stratton Mountain Resort and a beautiful POLYWOOD Adirondack chair to the annual Wags to Riches fundraiser for the Windham County Humane Society.

 Environmental Education at Vernon Elementary School

sponsored BEEC’s Aquatic Field Trip, where Vernon Elementary School students got the opportunity to explore a pond ecosystem and observe a variety of aquatic organisms
We sponsored an Aquatic Field Trip, where local students got the opportunity to explore a pond ecosystem.

Rainforest Conservation

Rainforest conservation at the Serere Reserve in Bolivia's Amazon rainforest
Peggy, Riley and Kendall made a trip to the Amazon rainforest in Bolivia this year to lend support to a reforestation project at the Serere Reserve in Bolivia.

Providing Toys & Food for Kids in the Amazon Rainforest

Vermont Furniture Store environmental mission: rainforest conservation
We donated over $200 to bring Christmas gifts and food to children in the Amazon through Marco’s Holiday Giving Project.  Thanks to Riley for setting this up!

As we close out 2015, I extend my thanks to the customers, staff members, furniture makers, family, friends, neighbors and business partners whose support made the accomplishments of this small Vermont furniture store possible. Here’s to your health and happiness in 2016!

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

The Story Behind Our Sustainable Furniture Store

Last updated on August 31st, 2018 at 09:34 am

This post is one in a series about Vermont Woods Studios’ mission of rainforest conservation and our support of Bolivian environmentalists dedicated to reforestation and ecotourism in the AmazonPart 1Part 2Part 3Part 4.

A Passion for The Rainforest

I have a confession to make.  I did not start Vermont Woods Studios because I had a deep, abiding love of handmade furniture.  Mind you, I HAVE developed a sort of reverence for it over these past 10 years, but that wasn’t the driving force for me.

It was my passion for the rainforest that got this sustainable furniture company started. 

I think it may have been Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey who initially drew me into environmental conservation in the 60s.  Or maybe it was Mom, who had us kids outdoors all the time and kept a stack of National Geographic magazines handy for the rare moments we were in the house.

Anyway, for some reason, when I lost my job in 2005 I decided to quit the corporate world and get back to my youthful aspirations of doing something “green”.  I had become convinced that our generation’s most important conservation priority was to preserve the world’s rapidly disappearing rainforests. I wanted to focus the rest of my working life helping people understand the tragedy of this loss and the fact that they could do something about it.

Ken had just finished building a woodworking shop on the back of our house.  I thought maybe we could marry his woodworking background with my love of the rainforest to create a new kind of green business.  After several attempts and stumbles we came up with Vermont Woods Studios: a website where Vermont furniture makers could market and sell furniture made from sustainably harvested wood.

The company would be a vehicle to help us persuade people to stop buying furniture and flooring made with illegally harvested rainforest wood.

 

Sustainable furniture and flooring
Global rainforest destruction is happening now at a rate of  1 acre per second. 60 seconds per minute. 60 minutes per hour, 24/7/365. It’s the greatest extinction in the history of the earth. Once the rainforest is gone, it’s gone forever.  Interested in conserving the rainforest and preserving the iconic species who’ve lived there for millions of years? Learn how your choices for furniture, flooring and other forest products can help.

Not That Easy Being Green

But soon reality hit and although I was always guided by conservation, I quickly learned that small businesses don’t have a lot of time or money for environmental projects.  We did what we could… making support of environmental non-profits (like the World Wildlife Fund, the Rainforest Alliance, Vermont Center for EcoStudies and many others in our own community) a cornerstone of our business.  We also work with The Nature Conservancy’s Plant a Billion Trees project to plant a tree for every furniture order we take.  And a number of times we’ve traveled to the rainforests of Costa Rica and Panama where we did some volunteering.

In retrospect I can say that we have made progress on our mission.

But I feel like we’ve fallen short in getting the word out that how we build and furnish our homes has a huge impact on the future of our planet. 

We have to figure out how to spotlight the difference consumers can make by choosing sustainably harvested wood flooring and furniture as opposed to that made from illegally harvested rainforest woods (think: Lumber Liquidators and Ikea).

A Trip to The Amazon

So I’m taking a trip to the Amazon rainforest. 

It’s something I’ve always wanted to do but never had the opportunity.  Next post I’ll share how this trip came about and what I hope to accomplish.  I am so grateful to our customers, employees and other allies who have supported our business throughout these 10 years, thus making such an endeavor possible.

Thank You!

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

From Forest (creatures) to Furniture: Our Salamander Story

Last updated on May 27th, 2018 at 05:16 pm

This photo was taken by Lori S. of Georgia, Vermont who shared this photo on the Vermont State Parks facebook page!

Picture this: It’s past 10pm and Peggy is outside in her rainboots, a bright yellow raincoat, and some reflective gear. She has a bucket on her arm, a flashlight in one hand, and a big spotted salamander in her other hand. It’s cold and raining and way past her bedtime but dozens of these local amphibians need her help! Yep, It’s salamander migration season! For the past 15 years Peggy has been helping these Spot-tacular salamanders make it across busy roads towards the vernal pools they use for breeding. With the help of great organizations like BEEC, we’ve saved hundreds of salamanders from being run over by cars (and depending on the amount of traffic, this can result in huge dents in the salamander population)!

Helping Salamanders at Stonehurst
Smile, you’re on Salamander camera! These little guys were making moves right around Stonehurst. 

You may be wondering why the owner of a furniture company is spending her free time helping frogs and salamanders cross the roads.  I can assure you that it’s actually very relevant and important work, and it’s quite symbolic of the exact reason she started Vermont Woods Studios in the first place.

Our forests are so much more than just trees. When Peggy started Vermont Woods Studios in 2005, she  was inspired to help save disappearing animal habitats by promoting sustainable forestry. Did you know that almost every species of large primate & big cat are endangered? While these salamanders aren’t endangered (at least not yet), we want to make sure it stays that way! These salamanders have been following the same migration patterns for hundreds of years, way before roads and cars and all of the man-made things that put them in danger. On nights where we might have missed them crossing, there is evidence left on the roads of the threat to the survival of these crawly creatures that cars pose.

The least we can do is help these slow movers make it to where they’re headed.

unnamed
Here’s my #NatureSelfie! That’s Peggy in the background making her way to check up on the salamander eggs.
Salamander photos
You can find many different types of eggs in local Vernal pools. Can you guess which ones are Spotted Salamander eggs?

After the salamanders have crossed and made it to the vernal pools, we visit them to see how many egg clusters we can find. This helps us keep track of the success of the salamanders each year and assures us that our efforts are making a difference!

All in all, we take care and keep track of the success of the salamander migration because we care about our environment– even the smallest parts! If you’re interested in learning more about helping salamanders, check out the Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center website.

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Just Released: New Online Tool Tracks Deforestation in ‘Near Real Time’

Last updated on May 28th, 2019 at 08:30 pm

Deforestation Tracker
“Highlighted in red, the new tool can show the scale of tree cover loss between 2000 and 2012” — via BBC News

Providing solutions to rain forest deforestation is a central part of our mission  at Vermont Woods Studios. We’re inspired to do our part in making illegal logging and mass deforestation a thing of the past, so needless to say, we’re more than excited about this new tool that provides practically real time information on tree loss. Our furniture is never made from rain forest lumber, but we are looking forward to a day when other furniture (and various wood product companies) will join us in the mission for a more sustainable world.

According to BBC News, “Despite greater awareness around of the world of the impacts of deforestation, the scale of forest loss since 2000 has been significant – data from Google and the University of Maryland says the world lost 230 million hectares of trees between 2000 and 2012.”

Staggering Statistics: “Forest campaigners say this is the equivalent of 50 football fields of trees being cut down, every minute of every day over the past 12 years.”

As noted in the BBC article, one of the major problems regarding deforestation is the lack of accurate information. To take on this challenge of obtaining accurate and reliable information, ” the US based World Resources Institute (WRI) has led the development of GFW, using half a billion high resolution images from Nasa’s Landsat programme.”

This program will make it harder for illegal loggers to continue clearcutting without accountability or consequences, as this new technology is “a near-real time monitoring platform that will fundamentally change the way people and businesses manage forests,” said Dr Andrew Steer from WRI…From now on, the bad guys cannot hide and the good guys will be recognized for their stewardship.

Tracking widespread illegal logging across the globe might seem like an impossible task, but “the technology is said to be easy to use and will incorporate information showing protected areas, logging, mining and palm oil concessions and daily forest fire alerts from Nasa.”

The tool will involve a global support system of concerned groups, citizens, and politicians.  So “when tree losses are detected, alerts can be sent out to a network of partners and citizens around the world who can take action.”

So what does this mean for the wood industry, and the consumers who support it?

According to Unilever CEO, Paul Polman, “As we strive to increase the visibility of where the ingredients for our products come from, the launch of Global Forest Watch – a fantastic, innovative tool – will provide the information we urgently need to make the right decisions.”

For more info, check out the original BBC article.

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Investing in the Community: VWS Donates to Windham County Humane Society

Vermont Woods Studios Mission
Loryn, our community outreach coordinator, is passionate about the animals and used to work with WCHS before coming to Vermont Woods Studios. She loves getting out into the community and helping out a good cause; both at work and during her free time.

Supporting good community causes is a big part of our mission, and it’s something that each of us at Vermont Woods Studios is passionate about personally. So it makes sense that we didn’t hesitate to get over to the Windham County Humane Society, even during a snowstorm. If there’s one thing that separates Vermonters from the rest, it’s our ability to completely go on with our day normally in weather conditions that the rest of the country panics about. That, and our dedication to helping out our neighbors, of course!

(For the record, none of us actually knew it would be snowing this much when we ventured out. Safety first!)

Yesterday, Loryn & I visited the humane society to drop off our donations to their Wags to Riches auction and fundraiser–and to pick up our tickets for the event! I even got a new dog tag, for my darling Chihuahua, Pappy!

The WCHS team was super appreciative of our donation, and emphasized how much community support matters to them. Without the kind support of businesses and community members, WCHS wouldn’t be able to work as hard and help as many animals as they do. The Windham County Humane Society “is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the safety and well-being of animals and enhancing the relationship between individuals and pets through adoption, education, advocacy, compassion and promotion of animal welfare.” They  help “stray, abandoned, neglected and surrendered pets by giving them a second chance at a healthy, happy life.”

We’re happy to support them, and are even more excited to attend the amazing Wags to Riches auction on March 1st. Loryn will be writing a blog about it when the date gets closer, so stay tuned!

If you’d like to contribute to WCHS, read more about ways to help out on their website!

 

| This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, a 200 year old farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains. |

 

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

My Boss is a Cat

Last updated on May 4th, 2018 at 02:09 pm

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 medium.com

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 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.

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

American Made Furniture: Top 3 Styles in 2019

Last updated on May 28th, 2019 at 07:59 pm

2013, our first year at Stonehurst gave us another reason to study and analyze what our customers’ favorite American made furniture styles are.  With limited space in our showroom, we wanted to display the very best selection of Vermont furniture, as defined by customer purchases.  After looking through the sales statistics, we found these Top 3 American Furniture styles, which we’ll be featuring often at Stonehurst:

Shaker Furniture was the top selling style in 2013

Shaker Style Furniture

This Vermont Shaker bed, nightstand and chest are pretty accurate reproductions of the original Shaker style furniture crafted by communities of the United Society of Believers starting in the late 1700’s.  Born here in the Northeast, this American furniture style is a simple, utilitarian design characterized by straight tapered legs and mushroom-shaped wooden knobs.  Vermont furniture makers have become today’s authority on Shaker furniture and customers seeking a simple elegant, solid wood design have grown to love their work.  It’s our top seller and customers are customizing it in their choice of cherry, walnut, maple and oak woods (preference is in that order).  Sometimes customers will choose two contrasting wood colors like cherry and walnut or maple and walnut to trick it out– if there is such a thing for “Shaker furniture”.

Craftsman style furniture, handmade in Vermont | Stonehurst Fine Furniture Gallery

Craftsman Style Furniture

This Contemporary Craftsman Bedroom Furniture collection is a modern rendition of the American craftsman and “arts and crafts” furniture that became popular in the late 19th century and remained prevalent through the 1930s.  It’s handmade of real solid cherry wood with contrasting drawer pulls in solid walnut wood and reflects the true craftsmanship of this period.  The finish on this collection is a traditional hand-rubbed oil and wax.  If you like this contemporary craftsman style furniture, learn more about the details and craftsmanship here.

Mission Style Furniture | American Made in Vermont | Real Solid Wood | Oak, Cherry, Walnut, Maple

Mission Style Furniture

This mission sofa table and mission dining chair have the rectilinear design and heavy proportion characteristic of Mission style furniture which became popular in the late 19 century. At Vermont Woods Studios we have a traditional American Mission Furniture collection and a Modern Mission Furniture collection, both constructed of real solid woods in your choice of traditional oak or cherry, walnut or maple woods.

Stop by our new fine furniture showroom at Stonehurst anytime to see what we’ve got on hand in our customers’ favorite furniture styles: Shaker, Craftsman and Mission furniture.

 

 

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Mission, Arts & Crafts and Stickley Style Furniture

Last updated on March 13th, 2019 at 02:28 pm

stickley style furniture

Vermont Craftsmen Bring the Art of Mission and Stickley Style Furniture to the Green Mountain State.

Today we say thanks to Chad, one of our favorite Vermont fine furniture makers. He was kind enough to join us on Tuesday when ABC World News came to town. Chad and his quintessential Vermont workshop (located in an historic, old red barn) were featured in a film segment for the Made in America Shopping Challenge. I can’t wait to see that part of the video because Chad speaks about his craft so beautifully and powerfully– straight from the heart.

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.