A Storage Chest Inspired by a Record Player and a Basketball-Playing Grandmother

Kiersten Hathcock realized toddlers and their parents were missing something—toy storage inspired by mid-century designs. Her first attempt at carpentry, and ultimately what would assist in perfecting her woodworking skills, was a toy box modeled after her beloved grandmother’s record player. Here is a bit of the story.

How did you come up with the idea of the Gracie Storage Chest?

When I was mulling around the idea of building a toy box, my Grandma Theda's old record player came to mind. I loved that thing —probably even more than my Grandma did.  It was the look of it. It fit the style I wanted for a toy chest and I thought to myself, “I wonder if I can build this?“  Or perhaps more accurately, “Am I going to cut off a finger trying to build this thing?“

How did the process of building the Gracie Storage Chest look?

I didn't even understand how to join wood at the time, so I wasn't using dowels or anything that screamed "craftsmanship." I figured out how big I wanted it to be based on similar products on the market. 

Once I cut the wood, I had to figure out how to join it without if falling apart.  I used glue, clamps, and pin nails. It was not my best work, but I know my Grandma was proud that I designed it with her record player in mind.  

What was it about your grandma that inspired you?

She was quite a woman—she dared to do what many others wouldn’t. She grew up in a coal mining town in Virginia.  While in high school, she was recruited by the professional women's basketball league; the name of the team was the Redheads, because of her stellar basketball abilities.

She ultimately decided to marry my grandfather instead of going out on the road, but man could she shoot hoops!  She would play ball with my sister and I when we were younger. I did not get her hoops abilities, but my sister, Traci, went on to earn a full-ride scholarship—because of basketball—at Eastern Michigan University. 

Grandma Theda Parsons has passed on now, but her fierce determination and drive to fight for what is right and strive to do the very best lives on inside of me.  And I know she's smiling down on us, seeing the Gracie is back on the market through Little Colorado. Without the influence of my parents and my grandparents, I wouldn't have had the courage to step up to the carpentry plate in the first place. 

Was this the first toy box you built?

Yes, the very first!

What did you learn about the carpentry process from this experience?

I learned a lot about the construction side of carpentry while building Gracie. After realizing the pin nails weren’t going to create a solid joint, I researched a way to join ½-inch Baltic birch plywood and found a product called Miller dowels that did the trick. This was huge for Mod Mom! 

Why is it named the Gracie?

I named it Gracie after our daughter, who was needing the most storage.  I also built an owl toy box, which I named Noah, after our son.  The names of most of the toy boxes come from kids I know and love.

Where else do you find inspiration for your designs?

I find a lot of inspiration from nature and designs from the mid-century era.

What is on the docket for design next?

That’s a great question!  I have quite a few designs that I’d love to see made.  Many of those are clean-lined, modern, table and stool sets. I found—as a mom—tables and chairs that are pint sized are a must have when you have toddlers in the house. 

Read More about Kiersten: Q & A With Kiersten Hathcock: Shark Tank Winner, Marketer Turned Carpenter, Entrepreneur and Founder of Mod Mom Furniture


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