Spotlight on Mother's & Daughters in Business — Amber and Jeannie
When she was just 10 years old, after buying a package of Jolly Ranchers with all of the wrappers stuck to the candy, Amber Clay decided that she needed to write a letter to the Hershey’s company and share her disappointment in their lack of quality control. This action was just one of many signs early on that gave her mother, Jeannie Cheatham, a sense that Amber was able to see a bigger picture and appreciated the need for quality products. It was of no surprise to her then that her daughter grew up to be a business owner who places an emphasis on providing quality products and amazing service to their customers.Extremely close growing up and to this day, Amber and Jeannie always knew that they would be in business with each other. When you speak with these two women it is very evident that they thoroughly enjoy working with each other and couldn’t imagine it any other way.
Both with a background in design they began their entrepreneurial life together with an interior design company called C. Decor, Inc. which has since evolved into Mod by C. Decor. An avid photographer, Amber was out shopping one day for a new camera strap and found only low quality straps in limited basic styles and colors. Being the creative person that she is and with the help from her mother, she went on the search for more interesting and colorful fabrics to take home and make her own straps. Using her Grandmothers old sewing machine, Amber and Jeannie began trying out different fabrics, textures and styles and produced enough of their homemade camera straps to sell through local consignment stores. Catching the eye of an independent sales representative, he thought for certain there was a market for them among camera and photography enthusiasts. Once available through several camera stores, it became clear to the Mother-Daughter duo that their customers wanted more than just a colorful and fashionable camera strap, they wanted one that was made of high quality materials and extremely durable. Recognizing the need to move beyond their own sewing machines, the women began to search for a manufacturer of their “Modstraps.” Committed to keeping jobs in the United States, Amber and Jeannie were adamant about finding a manufacturer right here in the USA ~ even if it meant paying a little more to bring their product to market.
Today their product line is carried in over 400 stores across the country and has expanded into designer sleeves for laptops, tablets and e-readers as well as zipper ID bags. This spring they will be also be launching into the gift market with a new product line. The women are on the move for sure!
While their business and growth spurt require a great deal of time and attention, both Amber and Jeannie make a conscious effort to create balance in their lives and Mother-Daughter relationship. The women agree that the amount of time they spend together is both a reward and a challenge of being a Mother-Daughter team. Finding that balance is not always easy but they are careful to avoid discussing the business after hours and plan activities that are fun and not business related. A Grandmother to 9 children (and one on the way from Ethiopia) sometimes leaves Jeannie just wanting to take the day off to spend time playing with them or to go shopping with her daughter. While there are times that she’s able to do that, there are others when the responsibilities that come with owning a business make it impossible.
Building their company together from the ground up has been a venture that these women have embraced with a spirit of gratitude. Being equal business partners with your Mother or Daughter is not always easy. Like most partnerships each member comes with their own set of skills, knowledge and experience which tend to complement those of the other. While both women handle matters related to design and staff, Amber does more of the marketing and Jeannie focuses on the business and financial side of the house. Allowing each other to learn and grow in the areas that may or may not come naturally to them, is an important aspect of building a business with family members, particularly Mother and Daughter. In addition to holding that space for each other, Amber and Jeannie believe that mutual respect is critical. Respect not only as women business owners but as Mother and Daughter.
Their relationship as Mother-Daughter is one that both women hold very dear to their hearts. Amber believes that “ultimately your legacy began with your Mother and no matter how difficult or stressful the business becomes, be respectful of each other because at the end of the day, all that really matters is your relationship.”
Those sentiments are at the core of Mod and are clearly communicated on their website; www.modstraps.com under the heading of “Our Story”. Once on that page the reader is greeted with the words: “The heart and soul of mod. begins with family” and we don’t doubt it for a minute!
For more information about Mod by C. Decor or to read more about Amber and Jeannie’s story, visit their website at www.modstraps.com.