Stanley Furniture dates back to 1924 when Thomas B. Stanley – a young dairy farmer – founded the company. Today associates carry on Thomas Stanley’s vision of quality, American-made furniture. True Cuddles had the pleasure of speaking with one of these associates, dadpreneur and juvenile business expert, Neil MacKenzie from Young America, Stanley Furniture’s youth line. We learned a ton about all of the fabulous products Young America offers – from cribs to toddler beds to full size beds and matching furniture, this company does it right! As our 99th business interview, Young America will be giving away a fantastic prize to support our 100th mompreneur celebration! Stay tuned for the big launch next Monday, April 16th!
Read more to find out about Neil MacKenzie and his role with this juvenile furniture industry leader!
1. Tell us a little about yourself.- I am originally from Massachusetts and went to college in North Carolina, attending UNC Greensboro, where I was fortunate to meet my wife Kristen. Having been in North Carolina for over 10 years, I definitely don’t miss the Massachusetts winters, but I do miss the beach and Boston sports! I consider myself a social person but I also have a greater appreciation of time now. So suddenly not going anywhere is nice. As a busy business professional any extra time I have is spent with my family. 2011 was a big year for me when my wife and I had our first child, Isla Rose MacKenzie. Isla (the ‘s’ is silent) is just over a year old now and it’s been awesome. There is nothing like having a little girl and I am pretty sure she already knows that she owns me! Isla is a big fan of Young America and she has a Mix stationary crib in lavender with white accents. She can’t talk in sentences yet but she loves it.
2. How did you get into the juvenile furniture business?- I spent the early part of my career working in account service at Mullen and then I had the opportunity to join a smaller agency in Greensboro, NC called Burris, which focuses a lot on B2B clients in home furnishings and golf. Golf is a passion of mine and the smaller company offered big opportunities working on brands like Club Car, Yamaha, Nicklaus Golf Equipment, The Golf Channel, Young America and Stanley Furniture. One thing led to another and working for Burris helped set up my next opportunity at Stanley Furniture Company in May 2010 as the Director of Marketing. Our company has three brands – Stanley Furniture, Young America and The Coastal Living Collection. It’s great opportunity to be on the client side and I love the B2C opportunities that Young America and Coastal Living have afforded me.
3. What’s your favourite quote?- (Ok it’s a little long, but here it goes…) Theodore Roosevelt, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
4. What do you love about being a dad and working in the juvenile business?- It’s fun to know that we are providing a brand that sets the foundation for a room where so much activity will take place. We are also very excited about our “built to grow” cribs, which transform from an infant safe haven to the rough and tumble world of toddlers to a multi-use play space of tweens to full size beds for the private world of teens. Your child’s room reflects the stages of their lives and Young America offers a range of sleep storage and study options to see them through it all!
5. If you had to describe your business in less than 15 words, how would you do it?- Safe, fun, flexible, colorful and American!
6. What is your inspiration for your business?- Our children and our families. At Young America, we make the safest furniture products you can buy for your child. They all come with an array of options and we make them in the USA. We also allow consumers to buy direct or buy local and save.
7. Ok, we have to ask …what are three items you always have in your “purse?”- Well my wife sometimes tells me I need a man purse (a murse?) but I’d say my headphones.
8. Describe your biggest success and how you knew that you were going to make it.- Recently, we just launched a B2C platform where the consumer chooses if they want to buy direct or buy local and save through our Young America retailers. We thought we had something of value but it wasn’t until we started receiving calls after the story broke that we all felt this was really going to take shape.
9. Tell us about your typical ‘work’ day.- I wish I had one!
10. How do you juggle it all?- Teamwork!
11. What is the most rewarding thing about being an entrepreneur? And, what is the most challenging?- Accomplishing what you need to make happen for work while still being able to be home enough to take part in what is really important.
12. What is your next big goal? -Top secret!
13. What is your guilty pleasure?- Golf and spending time with my family of course! I live and die with the New England Patriots and I love watching golf with my little girl. I’m secretly hoping the cool cloths get her interested early…
14. What does your “go-to outfit” consist of in your closet?- Vineyard Vines Shorts, t-shirts and flip flops.
15. Name a product that you can’t live without for your baby or child?- Isla’s little sheep doll that she sleeps with – we named her Layla.
16.What advice would you give to someone considering becoming an entrepreneur and what is the most valuable lesson you have learned so far?- It’s very simple really, you just need to be patient and have some balance.
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