My Méz started as an idea on a paper napkin. I’m not saying that because it sounds cool, I’m saying that because that is true.
How many times have you seen a product on a store-shelf, online, or on TV, and wondered, “Why didn’t I think of that?” I always wanted to create something unique, something new that served a purpose, something that would stop people right in their tracks.
My love for photography started the idea. I had hundreds of shots from my travels and from living in a gorgeous state like Rhode Island with ever-changing seasons and miles of magnificent coastline. Like most people, I’d forget about my photographs after uploading them onto my computer. I thought about creative ways to display photography-something that would enhance the beauty of a photograph. The economy wasn’t the best at the time so I also wanted to offer a practical purpose. My Aha moment came while tinkering in my garage; what about photo art that could also be used as a side table!
So I drew my brilliant creation on a paper napkin and enthusiastically shared it with my wife, over dinner, and got a look that you don’t want to get from your wife. Yes, I’m talking about ‘that’ look. In her defense she was very pregnant at that time. Nevertheless I started working on the concept and several trips to the home improvement stores began. I had fine-tuned my idea by now and keeping these priorities in mind set out to create my product. What were my priorities?
1. An accent table that showed off photography. When not needed as a table it could be converted into wall art.
2. It was important that the product was both artful and functional. Style and quality were non-negotiable.
3. Finally, I wanted a simple and elegant design that didn’t require customers to bring out their tool box and refer to an assembly book.
(An early prototype that I made with a photo I had taken during a game. It turned out to be extremely heavy and I had to go back to the drawing board.)
As I moved forward with the product development phase, my wife’s voice started to echo in my head “I told you so”. I’d gone to hotel school, had an MBA, and could run restaurants and hotels with my eyes closed. I could manage hospitality projects like nobody’s business, but cutting wood? I didn’t even know where to begin; what kind of wood to use, what was a “jig”, which doo- hickey would be best to treat it and apply the photo. I was doing this while working full-time in Connecticut as my wife and I were preparing for our first child…in Rhode Island.
Startup tip: passion isn’t enough, perseverance is the real key to entrepreneurial success.
Multiple trips to the lumber yard were thrown in between trips to Babies “R” Us. John at Home Depot became my new buddy. Our YouTube feed showed an interesting mix of baby burping videos alongside wood treatment videos. I brought several materials to test and realized some were too heavy to be hung while others not sturdy enough for a table. I also acquired a lot of tools during the process.
Startup tip: don’t buy too many new tools or equipment when getting started. Check out yard sales first.
A year after I first had the idea my prototype was finally ready.
Startup tip: things always take longer than you think in the entrepreneurial world.
My wife’s reaction to my prototype table “That would look great in our living room!” I had converted my critic to my number one fan; she still is! She was so excited about my table that she showed it to a few friends that had come over for brunch. I watched with a combination of disbelief and pure joy as one of them reached for her checkbook! Ann wrote us a check for a table and…
My Méz was born.
(This was one of the first couple of pieces I made.)