Made in Maine, USA and handcrafted with love
I’m Leslie Novak, founder and CEO of Howda Designz. People often ask how the chair came into being.
It all began in 1988 when I discovered a rolled-up wood and canvas “thing” tucked into a bunch of discarded items piled up in our apartment garage by a lovely gentleman of 92 years, Carl M., who was moving across country to join his new girlfriend. (I love that story!).
He told me how he used the old seat for sitting on the bleachers, watching football at Iowa State University, when he was in college.
Upon investigation, I learned the old seat was originally made in 1928 for rumble seats of the first motorcars and for bench seating under The Big Top.
With guidance through the manufacturing process given me by a good friend, Larry, I spent two years re-constructing, product testing, and patenting the new/old seat using innovative construction methods to add durability and functionality to the original. My utility patent was granted based on this new construction method.
The first catalog to virtually launch the HowdaSeat nationwide was the J. Peterman Co. Catalog. The catalog was nationally famous for its charming, historic and funny advertising copy. Each item in the catalog had its own tale; and the HowdaSeat certainly had its tales to tell.
One such untold tale is its possible legacy in American history starting with the Native Americans. The story goes that a seat, similar in nature to the HowdaSeat, was used as a “healing” chair for the elders seated around ceremonial fires. The belief was that wood touching the earth was sacred and wood around the back, healing.
The HowdaSeat: Theraputic back support
Today, people of all ages use the HowdaSeat for therapeutic back support, sitting in comfort everywhere, even at the traditional fire ceremonies held today. Yes, you will see similar-chairs at big-box stores and online sites, but none of them feature the quality construction and materials that go into an authentic HowdaSeat or HowdaHUG.
For example, I have found that American Basswood is the best wood to use for the slats. It is a native hardwood that grows in abundance, and is known for its clean grain, strength and flexibility. (Image by Christine Green)
About the Howda Designz logo
The artist for the elephant logo is Ilia Eskin, a Russian Jew who settled in Boston and was helped by a placement group to find a job. Although he was an architect, he couldn’t practice here; he also didn’t know how to drive. His first job, then, was working for Howda Designz making Howda Seats, and in order to get to work, he learned to drive — even in winter, when other people wouldn’t drive from Amesbury to Newburyport.
Ilia was an exceptional artist, and when he learned I needed a logo, he created the elephant in the seat. Very clever, because the name of the elephant saddle is “howda,” which is spelled “hauda” in Hindi. I had wanted an elephant incorporated into my logo and Ilia made it happen. Beautiful!