We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Molly Hodo a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Molly, looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. Let’s start big picture – what are some of biggest trends you are seeing in your industry?
My husband and I design and create different wood products from area native woods and also exotic hard-woods purchased from a select few vendors in the San Diego area. Making functional art is first and fore-most important to us, but also just creating special pieces that people can enjoy in their home, office or as gifts for those special occasions. We specialize in one of a kind cutting boards, charcuterie boards, grazing boards, rustic live edge furniture, custom signs, fireplace mantels and much more.
In 2019 during the Covid shut down, I took the time to learn the craft of resin and epoxy art, and creating the beach wave epoxy boards that are now our #1 seller. These boards take approximately a week to make, and each pour takes about 24 hours to dry so the result isn’t final until a day after it is created. This trend has now taken off, and you can watch many tik toks and also videos on our Instagram page that show you how this process is done. Of course we don’t give away all of our secrets since those are proprietary to us. We use only a few types of epoxy that gives us the window of time to create the waves, and only 2 different kinds of white pigment that work time and time again. Choosing from the hundreds of options out there was part of our process, and was not an easy one to nail down! To date, we are always trying new things, and we now have a line of beach epoxy lazy susan charcuterie boards that have a whole new following for us.
There are many places you can buy these types of items, but shopping local and supporting small business is what we, Merdo Acres, is all about. Woodworking is a craft that is slowly losing its following because of large manufacturers and machines that are doing all of the work, and not the actual people. Merdo Acres wants to be sure that everything we do is handcrafted and made by the two of us, not an actual machine or large business right in our home woodshop in Julian, CA. We also do custom orders for caterers, restaurants, tasting rooms, wineries and individual requests.
As always, we appreciate you sharing your insights and we’ve got a few more questions for you, but before we get to all of that can you take a minute to introduce yourself and give our readers some of your back background and context?
Who is Merdo Acres Wood Design Studio? Well, it started as a simple plan with two last names coming together to form a business name for our acreage in the Cuyamaca Woods of Julian, California. We are a husband (Brian) and wife (Molly) team that wanted to live more simply and be creative in what they love – functional art handmade by both of them. Molly is a graphic designer, artist and marketing professional that worked for over 13 years in the commercial aerospace business, but wanted to step out of the big corporate world and enjoy being an artist again. Brian spent a lot of his years wood working just for a hobby and enjoying hours in the wood shop. He worked for over 14 years in the fire service and retired from CalFire in San Diego County a few years ago. Just recently, they opened their first retail store, Merdo Acres Wood Design Studio, at Julian Station (Julian, CA) and are open seasonally for the public to purchase their items.
We are also a husband and wife real estate team working for FHL Realty, Inc. in Julian, CA also. Faith Hope Love Realty is dedicated to a diligent work ethic, integrity, and a commitment to the highest industry standards. We focus on backcountry areas and also specialize in off the grid properties, since that is how we live and create all of our woodworking items, right next to the beautiful Cleveland National Forest. We pride ourselves in giving our customers a two for one experience that comes with a husband and wife team such as ours, and we treat each of our clients like one of our family.
How’d you meet your business partner?
I grew up in the beautiful state of Iowa, majored in the art field in college, and specialized in different mediums throughout her career which included jewelry making, painting, drawing, wood working, sculpture, photography and graphic design. Brian grew up in California and has always had a passion for being creative and making useful art out of wood or other items. He has been a musician (percussionist) most of his life and has even made percussion instruments out of exotic woods and metals. When we met, we somehow just new that there was a greater plan in the works for us as a couple, but most importantly, as full time business partners. We love the fact that all of our work is done together, and we can share each moment with each other throughout the day. Most couples leave the house separately in the early mornings, and only come back together at dinner, or later, and miss rare opportunities throughout the day to connect with each other. We are blessed to be able to share our business and life together!
Any advice for growing your clientele? What’s been most effective for you?
When we opened our wood design studio in Julian, CA, we wanted a small retail space where we could sell and share our work with others. Upon this decision to rent the space in 2018, we didn’t realize the amount of ups and downs we would encounter leading into 2019, and the Covid shut down situations all businesses faced, especially small businesses such as ours. We ended up creating an estore where people could order our items from the convenience of their homes, and also an Instagram store front. To date, we ship our boards all over the United States and even do custom work for a lot of our return customers.
- Website: www.merdoacres.com
- Instagram: merdoacreswoodstudio
- Facebook: Merdo Acres
Molly Hodo, Owner