Not only to realize them as good ideas, but to produce them. I trusted the world as my marketplace and the universe as the maker of dreams and wonder!
No doubt, I was afraid to make the leap. In 1976 I invented something that I did not bring to market. When I saw this product flourish in the marketplace a year later I made a promise to myself that when my next good idea hit, I would get it made no matter where I was, what I was doing or how much money I had.
My commitment was tested! In 1988 I found a wood and canvas seat, originally used for back support on the rumble seats of the first motorcars. It was also used on the bleacher benches under the “Big Top” traveling with the circus.
I remember stumbling up a curb when I realized this seat was it, the idea! It hit me and I had made a promise. This seat, made in 1928, was ready to make a comeback through me.
I had moved to a small seaport town in Massachusetts where I commuted to work in Boston. It took two years before I made the jump into the abyss of going “on my own.” At night, many of them, I researched and developed a new way to make the seat, better suited to body frames of today.
I had moved from the midwest and through the connection of a friend from Kansas City, I found a 300-year-old house with 27” wide ship’s floorboards in the charming little city of Newburyport right on the coast just below New Hampshire and Maine.
I also found great New England craftspeople. I started a cottage industry with wonderful people to work along side me. I had support from seed lenders and friends who gracefully offered help in many areas of business. I designed and developed new products to accompany the seat.
Starting my company in my century home added the to authenticity of my entrepreneurial dream. It was just the inspiration I needed to create new things from old ideas. It is from that old house where past met present and brought to me the name given the seat. (See “the Story of the HowdaSeat”). When I needed more space after becoming popular in the J. Peterman Co. Catalog (thanks to John Peterman!), I moved manufacturing into a grand old barn on the outskirts of town, where we made the seats for 8 years or more. Horses would peek into the barn daily, though the open part of the barn dutch door, adding so much flavor to our existence there.
After product testing and launching the HowdaSeat I began designing other products and accessories for the seats (see HowdaSeat “Accessories” and see “shearlings”).Then came the canvas bags, in 1992, after being asked by a NYC travel guide to make a bag with many pockets for her tours. Fashioned from a utility bag used on Hollywood film sets, I began producing the first bag with outside pockets, the “BucketBag” that could be used everyday by both men and women. An offshoot of this bag, The BriefBag, was in the J. Peterman Catalog as well. That company was my launching pad as I had 4 products selling in Peterman at one time.
Since 1990 I have made products that help people in their everyday life. The HowdaSeats and the BucketBags both have ergonomic value. The HowdaSeat fits around the body and is to the back what a good pair of shoes are to the feet. It provides support to the spin, hips and legs while embracing the whole body in a hug.BucketBags have a lower side handle that will lift the weight off the shoulder when carrying heavy things.
The biggest growth spurt to the Company came in 2005 when a parent called me to ask for the HowdaSeat for her 7 year old, stating an Occupational Therapist at her son’s school, insisted he have one or two.That started another whole business (see HowdaHUGs). This has meant developing a whole new market, Schools. HowdaHUGs are in 3 sizes for kids and now all over the Nation and the World.
I have so many people to thank in all these years of continual upstart where faith in my work and myself became the ultimate test. So, based on yet another commitment to myself and with eCommerce being the future I am on yet another phase of Howdas. As I build a second production studio to match the needs of increasing school orders, Howda now makes the seats in both Maine and MA.
New England is home to Howda! New beginnings are all worth it, even if it does take me another million years.