Vermont Woods Studios offers an eco-friendly take on beautiful furniture styles. There are several lines to choose from, so there should be something for almost any decorating style. LoveToKnow spoke with Peggy, co-owner of the company, to find out more.
About Vermont Woods Studios
How and when did the company get started? Where does the inspiration come from?
Ken F. and I started VWS in 2005. I was laid off from Tulane University as an instructor of distance learning (for masters degrees in environmental health & safety). Similar / large corporate level jobs in most areas of Vermont do not exist. My [reluctant] revelation was, "I may have to start my own business." At Tulane, I was exposed to the power of the Internet and decided that I would like to think of an online business that would utilize my diverse skill set.I had become deeply interested in forest conservation / endangered species and decided the business would need to support these causes. Husband Ken was a woodworking enthusiast so the Vermont Made, Sustainable Wood Furniture concept surfaced. Something we both could be passionate about. And the logistics made sense. We live in Vermont and this small industry exists there but was undermarketed. The talent and the product were close at hand. But these small craftsman shops were struggling, mostly from lacking exposure. I wanted something other than just a business that would put food on the table. Could we do something that would provide jobs for the region? Ken and a few local craftsmen started the business by building tables. At some point I concluded that we would be better off not actually crafting the furniture but to become web based retailers of fine handcrafted wood furniture exclusively from Vermont sources (small independent shops & studios).
What is it about the products that makes them so eco-friendly?
Vermont Woods Studios is not a recently labeled "green company"; this business was created from the ground up as a green company. Much of the world's lumber for furniture, flooring, and millwork is illegally harvested (rainforest) and exported as certified green material. The logs are shipped to Southeast Asia where they are sawed into lumber that is then used to build furniture that is typically shipped into the United States or Europe, still under the guise of being "green certified." The cost of the furniture is the distance shipping and marketing. The raw wood materials were essentially unpaid for and the labor is at slave labor rates. VWS' goal is to avoid tropical woods native to the rainforest such as teak, rosewood, ebony & mahogany. We look to source our lumber from local or regional sources and use woodworkers that are FSC certified.VWS then tops this "green furniture" with non-toxic finishes including an innovative whey based finish from Vermont Natural Coatings.
Eco practices are also applied when the product ships using blanket wrapping whenever possible, minimizing packaging materials ending up in landfill.
The woodcrafters recycle the waste wood parts and sawdust via donation to local farmers for animal bedding or to other firms for use in wood pellet manufacturing. Some crafters even have systems to generate electricity that is fueled by the waste wood scraps.
You take social and environmental responsibility seriously. What does your company do along those lines to improve the planet aside from creating stunningly beautiful eco-friendly furniture?
- VWS has a donation program where proceeds of our profits go to organizations that are involved in forest and wildlife conservation (World Wildlife Fund, Vermont Center for Eco Studies, Vermont Family Forests, The Nature Conservancy, Heifer International). Contribution plans for 2010 include more organizations and more donations to all.
- Sharing space with an organic farm in a barter fashion where our "office space" is paid for by pitching in with farm chores and handyman tasks.
- We also set up the business infrastructure to allow our employees telecommuting and flextime options, saving 1000s of miles per year of vehicle use and other benefits like the relief of the need for outside childcare.
A Glance at the Furniture
Do you have a best-selling item, line, or set? If so, what is it about that item/line/set that you think makes it stand out from the rest?
Our Cherry Moon Collection. This design combines Asian and modern elements that give both a light and grounded appearance. Our accent half-moon pull balances both the reverse tapered corner posts and the large under top cove cut. Corner posts feature full thickness radius roundovers that bookend a central arch. The walnut pulls contrast handsomely with cherry. As with the Shaker line we feel the Cherry Moon style provides an integration of aesthetics and function.
What are the biggest differences between the Vermont Shaker, American Shaker, Classic Shaker, and New England Shaker lines?
The American Shaker style: corner posts have 2-sided tapered feet, arched bottom aprons and large under top cove cut, eased edges, mushroom shaped & shaker pulls.
The Vermont Shaker style: corner posts have 4-sided tapered feet, straight aprons with top and bottom cove moldings, chamfered edges & button shaped shaker pulls.
The American and Vermont Shaker are made by the same craftsmen as are the Classic and New England Shaker style.
The Classic Shaker style: features the traditional clean lines that Shaker furniture is famous for, accented with an elegant, slightly curved flare in the legs.
The New England Shaker style: features traditional, clean lines with lovely graduated, crown-style moulding on the top and bottom edging.
Making a Purchase
You can browse through the selection and find out more about the company at VermontWoodStudios.com.
What is the average amount of time it takes to get a custom order to a client?
At Vermont Woods Studios, each piece of handcrafted furniture is made to order. Typically it will take 8 to 0 weeks for our craftspeople to complete your furniture. Then, depending on where you live, it will take about 1-4 weeks for shipping and delivery using our free White-Glove Blanket Wrap Shipping Option. If someone is in a hurry we have our Quick Craft program which includes about 25 of our most popular items. We will have your Quick Craft items built within two to three weeks of purchase.
Special thanks to Todd Brabender for arranging this interview.