Emily Hart and Remote Work, Local Manufacturing and Riding Horses

CJ sat down with Emily Hart. Emily is the Director of Business Development at Seating, Inc., a chair manufacturing company headquartered in Nunda, New York. Emily brings great energy and a lot of passion about business, local manufacturing and horseback riding. We covered a variety of topics including the importance of a good "presentation" during remote video meetings. And we speculated about how the traditional office or workplace might change even after the acute effects of the current pandemic subside. This was a really fun, engaging conversation and we hope to do it again. Enjoy!

 

Emily and CJ Discuss Remote Work, The Importance of Local Manufacturing and Riding Horses

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Conversation Highlights

CJ and Emily spoke for about 40 minutes. Together they covered the following topics:

  • How they're adjusting to working from home during COVID-19. (Honestly, when does't that come up?)
  • The difference between introversion and extraversion.
  • Why presentation is important for video conferencing.
  • Speculation about how the traditional office or workplace might change to accommodate people who want to be able to work from home more often.
  • The importance of having a good chair.
  • The importance of supporting local manufacturing and what that means for our economy and communities.
  • Emily's passion for riding horses, and how she's thinking about riding her horse to the store to buy some groceries, maybe. :-)

Full Conversation Transcript

CJ Maurer:
Hey everybody. CJ Maurer back here with another recorded Zoom video chat as part of my podcast. I have Emily Hart here. Emily is with Seating Inc. Seating Inc. is a generational chair manufacturing company based in Nunda, New York. Nunda is a very small town in Livingston County, situated in between Buffalo and Rochester and a little bit South. You said about an hour from Rochester. We're going to talk about a lot of fun things today. I'm really excited about it. I think we're going to hit on some local manufacturing stuff. First off, Emily, thanks for coming on. How are you?

Emily Hart:
Thanks for having me CJ. I'm super excited to be here and I'm good. I'm good. How are you?

CJ Maurer:
I'm doing well. I think it's hard to begin any conversation like this without acknowledging the elephant in the room, which is, how are you doing during a global pandemic? How is this affecting your business, your family life, mental health, things like that? There have been parts of this that have been challenging for me, certainly running a business with two small children, four and two. That's challenging. My wife and I are both working from home. We are very active people, not just physically active, but like, we like to just go out and do things. We're not ones to sit around at home for a while.

CJ Maurer:
So that's been challenging, but the business is doing well. My family as well, we're spending a lot of time together. We're doing projects around the house. So overall, we're good. We're good. We're going to be just fine. And I guess we're appreciating the newness of it all, the break in the pattern. I think it's something to remember. I think a lot of people, even though nobody wants this to be happening, we'll look back on it fondly in some ways, whether it be personal growth or self-reflection or anything.

CJ Maurer:
That's probably a longer answer than you bargained for. But when somebody asks me how I'm doing, they always get the full answer.

Emily Hart:
I like that. I think that's good. And I'm [crosstalk 00:02:07]-

CJ Maurer:
How are you?

Emily Hart:
Emily is well. It's hard for extremely extroverted people. We have a lot of salespeople that I work with for instance, who tend to be very extroverted people who are out meeting people all the time. And I think it is challenging, especially if you are that type of a person. I tend to be quite introverted. So for me, it's, I think a little bit easier to spend time by myself and finding things to do around the house and stuff. But I can appreciate that for people who are very social, it's more challenging. [crosstalk 00:02:38]-

CJ Maurer:
That's important because on one hand, people often confuse introversion with being shy, being introverted doesn't mean you're shy. It just means that if you spend too much time around people, you drain yourself of energy. Whereas, so on the flip side, extroverts literally get energy by being around other people. I heard one person characterize it as the difference between introverts and extroverts is where's your battery. Extroverts have batteries on the outside, introverts have batteries on the inside. So yeah, it definitely is a hard time. I don't know if by that you were assuming that I was an extrovert. [crosstalk 00:00:03:19]-

Emily Hart:
I was, I admit I kind of was. Just based on you saying that you and your wife are very active and you're out often doing things. I shouldn't have assumed that. And I'm sure that everyone-

CJ Maurer:
You were right to assume that.

Emily Hart:
Oh, okay.

CJ Maurer:
I just wanted to point out that it was cool of you to assume that. And also to point out that this is the first time we've... we talked once on the phone a handful of weeks ago. This is the first time we've seen each other. So I'm really excited about this. You're the first person that I've had on this podcast that I don't have a little bit more of background with. And I find that super exciting.

Emily Hart:
Wow. Well, this is the virtual experience that we're all in right now. Isn't it?

CJ Maurer:
That's right.

Emily Hart:
We're meeting people virtually, we're experiencing what that's like to be through a screen. It weirds me out and I have to set myself up. I told you that I watched part of your podcast about how to look okay on a camera because it's weird at first. You want to look decent when you're talking to somebody, but it's weird because you're on a screen.

CJ Maurer:
Well, one of the things I think-

Emily Hart:
[crosstalk 00:04:24] super happy to meet you virtually.

CJ Maurer:
Oh, me too. This is great. So one of the things I think is worth mentioning about that is when you were normally... one that's just like getting used to being on camera, making sure you look good. I'm sure you have sales reps and they go visit clients or prospects and they probably don't show up in dirty jeans and a ripped tee shirt or sweatpants. They probably wear something semi presentable depending on the business or who you're visiting. Maybe you're business casual, you're business formal, your hair's done, you've showered. All of those things, it's all part of the presentation. You hand a business card. Right?

Emily Hart:
Absolutely.

CJ Maurer:
So we no longer have those physical touch points.

Emily Hart:
Absolutely.

CJ Maurer:
I still think presentation matters. And I'm very curious, when I was going through that whole thing with Neil, and since then, I've been thinking a lot about, I wonder how businesses might respond to creating a structure or some type of process to improve their presentation online, like basic dress code, realizing that framing, lighting, audio is all part of the presentation and thinking about this much in the same way we would normally think about dress code, business card or other outreach policies.

Emily Hart:
I think that's genius and super cool. Even if you had everyone, to maintain a sort of cohesive brand image and it might be fun if everyone on your team dressed in certain colors and had maybe like some sort of like cute prop or something, then everyone who has an experience with either a sales rep or someone from your company would have that feeling of your company, which is always important, and I think it does get lost in this sort of exchange a little bit. And it's nice because it's just me and it's just you and we're just individuals when we do this virtual chatting, but ultimately a lot of the times we are representing a business when we do it.

Emily Hart:
And you're right. I think a lot of that, there's room for that to expand in this medium, because I don't think it's going away that soon. And I even think hopefully we can all get back to work soon, but I think more virtual meetings will be acceptable when you don't need to travel halfway across the country. Or, you know what I mean?

CJ Maurer:
100%.

Emily Hart:
Even if we're not in an office, it's more acceptable now to say, "I want to meet you virtually," and this is actually an important meeting also.

CJ Maurer:
Agreed. Even when things go back to normal, I don't think things are going to return fully to the way they are. And I think a big part of that is time. Time is everyone's most precious resource. It is the only resource that we all have the same amount of. And it really is incredibly valuable. And I think a lot of people are going to look at their time, and I live in Buffalo. So Buffalo is a city where there's not a ton of traffic compared to other major cities. So people don't spend a ton of time in the car, but still on average, commute is probably 20 or 30 minutes. So we don't think a lot about a 30 minute commute being a big deal. But when you think about that, you do that twice in a day, that's an hour a day times five that's five hours in a week.

CJ Maurer:
What would a productive employee do if you gave them five hours back in their week? And so I think it's really just about time and it's about efficiency and you're seeing it being reflected already. I saw Google recently said that their employees, regardless of what happens, can work remotely for the rest of the year. Twitter just said that their employees can now work from home forever.

Emily Hart:
Really?

CJ Maurer:
Yeah. I just saw that this week.

Emily Hart:
Wow.

CJ Maurer:
So I don't know if the tech companies in Silicon Valley are onto something or they're indicative of the larger pulse of the business community in this country. But I certainly found that interesting. One of my clients actually is the president of a manufacturing company. And what he told me was, thankfully, they're doing well. They're essential. They're still making a lot of stuff and they are a really great business. And what he said was, "Quite frankly, I don't think I need to be at the office five days a week full days to run this company. If I need to work from home a day or two a week, I think I can do that."

CJ Maurer:
And I think in instances where he can, he has some factory workers who have to show up and run machines. But for those people who have more office jobs, he mentioned that he would consider instituting a similar policy, especially when you also look at rent. If people aren't showing up five days a week, maybe you don't need as much office space. So yeah, I totally agree with that. Tell me a little bit about your company, Seating Inc.

Emily Hart:
So Seating Incorporated, we're a chair manufacturer here on Nunda, as you mentioned before. We've been here since 1989 and my parents actually started the company. So I was just a little girl when they started it and I pretty much grew up inside the factory and watched it, watch our products develop, watch the jobs develop and watch the company become what it is. So we make chairs for schools, hospitals, governments, across the USA. We build really strong chairs and we build them locally and we supply locally. And that's what we do. We love making chairs. We're cool chair builders.

CJ Maurer:
That is really cool. See, when we first got connected, I didn't know the company existed mainly because I'm what, maybe an hour and a half away. So I guess it shouldn't be fair to assume that I would know, but I have done a lot of work out that way, not in Livingston County, but in Wyoming County in the Perry area. And those are small towns. So there's not a lot of big companies out there. So you guys must be the toast of the town out in Nunda. I do know a couple of people from Nunda. I know them and I know them well, and I think very highly of them.

CJ Maurer:
So shout out to any of the Nunda peeps if they're watching or listening, but I mean, you guys must be one of the biggest employers out there, right?

Emily Hart:
We're a small company. We have about 30 employees, but in Nunda, that's a good size company. We do have, Once Again Nut Butter is there. They're a pretty big manufacturing organization. They make wonderful organic peanut butter and nut butters. But yeah, we're pretty big, and Nunda Lumber Yard is a pretty big company there in Nunda, but yeah, the jobs that we have are important jobs and they're local jobs. So our crew can be not too far away from their kids' schools in case whatever happens, they have to pick up their kid, et cetera. And it's local.

Emily Hart:
A lot of our crew can actually walk to work or just drive a short distance to get there. So it's really, they don't have to drive to the city to work. And that's really valuable for a lot of people.

CJ Maurer:
Yeah, that's... I would imagine that would be life changing to be able to have a job in your line of work, whatever it is, and not feel like just because you live in a smaller town, that you have to... We just talked about a 30 minute commute, maybe 45 or an hour. Right? That's significantly important. So you guys sell primarily to other businesses, is it office chairs or do you do a lot of personal residential as well?

Emily Hart:
We're very much a B2B industrial level company, which is probably why you haven't heard of us because most people who aren't in the furniture industry wouldn't have necessarily heard of us because we're in the industry of furniture and we're very much in that. However, now that everyone is working from home, we're having to reach out and reorganize our company to some degree to satisfy that need. I mean, so many people need chairs at home. They're sitting at home, their backs are starting to hurt. They're sitting at their kitchen tables, et cetera. These are generally people who don't normally work from home.

Emily Hart:
If someone has a work from home office already, they probably have a chair, but a lot of people who have been displaced from their offices are feeling the pain of not having a good chair and they're reaching out to us. So we're responding to that need for the first time ever, because it's really not what we've done. We really do B2B, but we are realizing that we're going to have to help people and continue to support people in this time of need where people really need good chairs. And you only realize how much you need a good chair when you're sitting in a bad one and it's starting to hurt your body.

CJ Maurer:
100%. My wife is in that situation right now, but that's really interesting because a lot of times, if you go to work for a company, you are issued a computer, mouse, keyboard, business cards, maybe a padfolio or now these days I know they'll issue headphones, especially in sales environments where you're talking on the phone a lot. And normally those are issued at the office. And you can take them home if you need to, if you have to work from home. I think there's been enough of that where people have grown accustomed to that. Now, all of a sudden during this whole pandemic, everyone's taking all of the company issued stuff, bringing it home, setting up at home.

CJ Maurer:
It makes you wonder now with the proliferation of remote work and work from home, if something like a desk and chair would fall into that. I would not be the least bit surprised if businesses start including that in the equipment that they provide all of their employees, because chairs aren't cheap, especially a good chair. And I've definitely sat in bad chairs and with the amount of sitting I do, unfortunately it would not be good if that chair was causing me pain, I can say that much.

Emily Hart:
It's true. I mean, I think we'll have to see that businesses have invested in their furniture already. And I think what's happening right now is people... no one knows the timeline. So some companies have decided to reinvest in and buy chairs for their at home office workers. And I think some are just thinking they'll come back soon. They already have their chair and stuff like that. So I think it's definitely a process and each company will decide as they move through it. But if more remote work is going to stay, I think that it probably will be a part of what a lot of business owners will do further for their people.

Emily Hart:
So my industry is changing a lot in this, which is exciting, not only the work from home aspect, but what are offices going to look like when they reopen. That's a big question. The open office concepts, a lot of people are saying it's pretty much done. It's run its course and now people need to be more separated and spaces need to be more enclosed and stuff. So that's just how any kind of trend goes, whether it's in fashion, whether it's in office design stuff, things come and go and we realize the good aspects of certain styles and designs and the more difficult aspects. And then we find our way back and forth.

CJ Maurer:
Right. 100%. Sometimes I wonder if the office will start to take a shape similar to what a coworking space looks like, where you have common areas for people who just need to sit at a computer and do work. They're okay if people are around them, whatever. And then anytime somebody has to take a call or be in the meeting, there'll probably be little small private rooms or conference rooms for people to meet like that. And then it's very conducive for people coming and going as they please because I'm somebody who... I started my business formerly on December 1st. So I've been working from home since December 1st. I don't have an office yet, I hope to one day.

CJ Maurer:
And I enjoy working from home. However, I prefer to have an office. I like the ritual. I need the energy of being around other people. And I think there're some other benefits too, so I doubt it'll go all the way back the other way. The very interesting thing to think about is whatever hybrid model we land at. I don't know. I'm sure you know much more than me because you're in the business of helping people furnish their office spaces. So I'm just a joker with an opinion, but I do think about it.

Emily Hart:
I mean, no one really knows. Everyone in the industry is guessing and putting ideas out there to see how they catch and what might be the direction that we're moving. And it really all right now depends on health and the policies put in place for social distancing. It'll be interesting, I don't think it's ever something that you know and it is what it is. I think it's constantly moving and we have to, as companies, adapt to that as much as possible and provide what's needed. I think people will always need chairs. I'm all for standing and moving, I'm into health and fitness and standing desks and all that. But ultimately, we all sit down for a certain amount of time.

Emily Hart:
Especially just to go off what you said, I love going to the office because that's like my control center. I have everything there. I have a nice big monitor. I've got my chair, I've got like... it's just a good place for me to really get a lot of work done and feel like, I've got my phone there. It's nice being in the office. And there is a buzz, I see the incoming orders, I can walk out and talk to the production crew. There's definitely a value in our business for being there.

CJ Maurer:
No doubt, no doubt. I think it is for a lot. And I'm with you on that. Just the energy, I feel more productive sometimes. You mentioned something that I want to latch onto because it was one of the things that we talked about when we were setting up a time to record this, how great it is that you have a bunch of employees who are local, who don't feel like they have to drive far and go somewhere else to pursue their field. And one of the things that I've heard people talk about is onshoring, being a potential outcome of this whole situation, bringing manufacturing jobs back to the US.

CJ Maurer:
So whether you talk about it as local, as in domestic or local as in our communities, I know that you're very passionate about local manufacturing and the importance that it has. What do you think is important for people to understand when it comes to the importance of local manufacturing?

Emily Hart:
The first thing I want to say is that I love that we're in a global economy. I'm very much an international person. I love traveling to different countries. I think it's so cool that we have this global economy to work with and creative ideas from everyone around the world. But I think local manufacturing has so many good qualities in terms of what it brings to the community that is veiled and unseen to so many people. And that's what I'd like to talk about is I've had the fortunate experience of being inside a manufacturing organization and witnessing the craftsmanship and witnessing what it means to work together as a team and those kinds of things whereas most people don't ever see it.

Emily Hart:
And I think a lot of people, when they think of manufacturing, have different ideas of what that means and I think potentially see it as a throwback to the early 1900s like a difficult environment and tough jobs and stuff like that. And I think-

CJ Maurer:
Yeah, like soot all over your face.

Emily Hart:
[crosstalk 00:20:22] like just really, and I think that's a vision that people have of factories that really needs to be opened up to go like, this is what a factory is. And one of the leaps I want us to try to make as a community is we value, thinking of like a craftsman, one person that has like phenomenal crafts, either a woodworker and they just create beautiful pieces. We all can see the value of that kind of a talent, but somewhere between that individual talent and a crew of people on a production line, the jump is so extreme that people don't realize there's this in between level of manufacturing.

Emily Hart:
And that's what we do at Seating Incorporated, and that's what I think is really important to the community because it's an art, it's basically really interesting skills and talents for the community to have.

CJ Maurer:
Art is making something that didn't exist before. Right?

Emily Hart:
Yeah. Exactly.

CJ Maurer:
That's not necessarily always scientific. People may like it, they won't. You put it out there in the world to solve a problem or fulfill a purpose or whatever and it didn't exist before, that's art. Writing is art. People would argue what we're doing is art, although I don't necessarily feel like that, but I would say it meets my definition of art. Although I feel silly calling this art because we're just a couple of people having a fun conversation. But yeah, I think that's really profound. What about from the economic standpoint too? Not just from the perception of why maybe when there are more people involved in the manufacturing process, the romantic nature of the solo craftsperson, it kind of subsides.

CJ Maurer:
There's certainly that from the perception standpoint, but what about from an economic standpoint? Everybody knows, well, at least has been taught that local manufacturing is better for the economy. Do you think perhaps we underestimate how good it is for our economy and maybe the costs of not supporting local manufacturing companies?

Emily Hart:
Yeah. So I think from an economic standpoint, there are two aspects. One is from a business owner side. And from a business owner side, looking at the demand for a certain product and the price that people are willing to pay and figuring out how you're going to make that happen often means manufacturing gets shipped elsewhere because American labor is very expensive. And then I think from the consumer point of view, we have to realize that what we're paying for is reflecting in our society and in our communities. And so when we're out there, for instance, asking for higher wage rates and asking... We have to realize what that means.

Emily Hart:
You have to invest into what you're asking for and you have to plant the seeds for what you want to reap. And as we give funds and pay for local products, we're creating the ability for small companies to pay American workers. And that's really, it comes down to that. It's so simple. I hope I said it as simply as it is, but it really is that. What we're putting money into is what develops the opportunity for jobs and for good jobs in the local community.

CJ Maurer:
That makes sense. So if a product is commoditized, meaning we're only interested in maybe the lowest cost option, then that is going to go to the lowest cost provider, which means it's not going to go to an American manufacturing company, which means we're not going to have American manufacturing jobs. I mean, you can follow the paper trail pretty simply on that.

Emily Hart:
Yeah. And it goes from an individual consumer level all the way to government levels and large business levels, making those decisions because we see the bottom line in a lot of bid opportunities and everything, it's price point. That's all they're looking at. And some are starting to look at more and we've realized as a society, we have to look at more, but it doesn't make sense for instance, for the New York State government to buy a foreign product when they have a New York State company here that by buying that product, you're creating jobs. You know what I mean?

CJ Maurer:
Yeah.

Emily Hart:
It just, there could be a way to close the loop that our actions make sense and we don't have to then create these offshoots all over the place to try to create jobs stimulation. You know what I mean?

CJ Maurer:
Yeah.

Emily Hart:
We wouldn't try so hard if we just made conscious decisions to support each other locally, wherever possible, wherever it makes good sense.

CJ Maurer:
I think we're seeing a little bit of a tide change on that. I remember reading something at least 10 years ago where it was like a lot of the domestic auto companies, so GM and Ford and Chrysler, they tried to appeal to our patriotic sensibilities and they all ran a bunch of campaigns with like John Cougar Mellencamp songs about how these cars are made in the USA. And they really fell flat on their faces. They didn't work. And I remember reading something, it was like an article somewhere that somebody just said, "Americans don't care if their cars are made in America and that's that, they just want them to be good.

CJ Maurer:
They want them to be high quality and they want them to be affordable and things like that." I mean, this is not for me to say, but I think you can make it... I've heard a lot of people who follow the industry closely make a case that a lot of our domestic auto manufacturers maybe took their eye off the ball for a little while and since have focused a lot more on making better cars. But I also think that you're seeing a lot more consciousness building over the last several years, I think in terms of the importance of buying local. I mean, even something like Etsy, you know what I mean? You can support a teenager or a single mom or a retired person who has a passion project of making things as opposed to something that came from the internet across the world in some giant factory.

CJ Maurer:
And you're supporting local people between that and the emergence of, you're hearing people talking about onshoring and bringing manufacturing back to the US. I'm definitely encouraged by, I think some of the trends that we're seeing and realizing that it's actually fun to support local, even if that means paying five or 10% more in some instances. Because not only might you be getting a better product, but you're playing a part in keeping our community stronger. And that's been really apparent to me living in Buffalo. I'm not from here, but I've been here 12 years.

CJ Maurer:
And so in a post-industrial city that's had its fair share of economic struggles, when you care about that city and you read about the issues and why it has struggled economically and some of the things that are working to help it come back, you realize that a lot of it like supporting local is really connected to a lot of things. A lot of chain restaurants do not do well in Buffalo, but do fine in other markets because people here are so fiercely loyal to the local restaurants and the food scene. And that's really cool. It'd be nice to see that extended to really other aspects of retail and commerce, I think.

Emily Hart:
Yeah, I agree. And I think part of it is just letting people know what's going on here. A lot of people like you didn't even know for instance, that Seating Inc. is even here because we are not telling people that we're here, we're working with businesses in several territories across the US rather than... and now that's why there are things like manufacturing days, which different counties are putting on and Livingston County puts on where they invite the community into manufacturing facilities and go look what's happening here. And that just goes back to what I said a while ago, which is that a lot of people just don't realize what is happening in the manufacturing, that's happening in the skills that are there and the jobs that are there.

Emily Hart:
And I think when people open their eyes to it, they're like, "Oh, that's cool. That is cool. That is something I want to be a part of." And then it is nice when a local company gives back because obviously we do, we give to local sports clubs, we give to school clubs, events that are going on, stuff like that. So businesses also giveback.

CJ Maurer:
You pay salaries for 30 people in the community that maybe wouldn't be able to live there if not for that job.

Emily Hart:
Yeah. So all of those things I think are really important. And I also think the value of people realizing that it's happening. One of the things I'm doing in response to what's happening right now is I'm developing a virtual tour of our facility and right now I'm just giving it to our sales reps so that they can speak to their dealers and set up meetings and show them inside the facility. So when people actually are stuck home, it takes them somewhere else and shows them something that they haven't seen before. And I'm thinking about expanding that and opening that up to random people, to my friend groups and all the... And just, you want to see something that's happening that you just had no idea was behind that wall that you just never saw.

Emily Hart:
And I think that's a huge part of it. A lot of it, it's the consumer, but it's also businesses having to go like, there's a reason to support us. And there's a reason that this is cool and making an effort to say like, this is what it means to support local. This is [crosstalk 00:30:11]-

CJ Maurer:
I think simply documenting what you do, especially the parts that are interesting is really effective from a marketing standpoint. I mean, you guys are already doing this. All you have to do is turn a camera on and press record. Obviously there's a little bit more to it than that, but it's actually one of the reasons why I'm doing this. What I found... I run a marketing business and I have very interesting conversations with clients. I oftentimes get introduced to somebody, we go for coffee, we have interesting conversations. And usually it focuses on marketing and their business, but sometimes we just, we riff kind of like we're doing right now.

CJ Maurer:
And so having these types of conversations is like a natural part of my business and growing my business. And so I just thought, now I'm at a point where it has to be done through here. So I might as well just do it through Zoom and press record and share it. Now I'm largely doing this for fun, but I'd be lying to you if I didn't say that there wasn't some part of me that thought, well, maybe this is a additional way to get some more exposure for my business, more people hear about me and things like that. So I don't talk about it a lot, but again, it's just one of those things where it's so much easier to document the things that you're already doing than to go out of your way and do new things to create new things.

CJ Maurer:
So I think that would be great for you. I think a lot of people would be really interested to see what that's like. I mean, we probably all remember as kids, whether it be on PBS, seeing a clip of how crayons are made in the factory or something like that.

Emily Hart:
[crosstalk 00:31:46].

CJ Maurer:
I think there's a part of us that are just drawn to how things are made. We watch cooking videos on Facebook and stop at those... I just think there's something inherently interesting about something coming together. And so I think that would be really good for you to peel back the curtain and show people how that works. And you'd probably be surprised. There's probably a lot of people who wouldn't be in your target audience, but who would like it just because it's cool to watch.

Emily Hart:
Right. And that's what I'm starting to realize in this time of virtual community is why not let a few more people see what we're doing and go like, "Whoa, there's this thing happening in our town." Even just so they know that there are these... It makes people feel good to know that there are certain vibrant things happening in their town or in their state or whatever. It's nice to be a part of something that's vibrant and interesting. It adds something to you, it adds something to your life and your community.

Emily Hart:
And yeah, just to add onto what you were saying from a marketing perspective, I think so many of us, our jobs are just something we do and where I think we're going maybe with this new changing world, et cetera, is that we're more willing to say like, "This is what I do. I make chairs. I'm the chair girl or whatever." And a blacksmith for instance will do that. Everyone knows the local blacksmith. I ride horses. That's a part of who he is. And we love having a great blacksmith and everyone knows the blacksmith and calls him when they need their horses' shoes on. And I think so much of that gets lost because we all feel like we almost shouldn't talk about what we do or either because we don't care or we just feel like it's too promoty.

Emily Hart:
And I think we don't have to be promoting ourselves. We just say this is what we do. So people go, "Oh yeah." Whereas other people might never know that I make chairs if I don't say I make chairs, you know what I'm saying? It's such a simple thing, but I do think that is going to change in our society as we all through virtual and other things, just are representing our company to circle back to where we started. I'm here representing a chair company, but by looking at me, you might not be able to tell that. I have to talk about it. I have to say that's me.

CJ Maurer:
Right. Pride in your work and unwanted solicitation are two different things. You can be very proud of what you do and own it and tell people about it without making them feel like, I don't know, uncomfortable, I guess. Well, that's really cool. So I'm glad you brought that up because what I was going to ask about next is you mentioned earlier that you're an active person and I was going to ask, so what are you doing for fun during all of this? You ride horses. How'd you get into that?

Emily Hart:
I've been riding horses since I was little, since I was three years old. So I got into it because my family had horses and I was lucky enough to get lessons. And so I've just kept that going. I'm very fortunate. I just feel so grateful. One of the great things about being in the rural space that we're in here in Livingston County is there's a lot of open space.

CJ Maurer:
So you can just ride a horse wherever or does it have to be like on your property?

Emily Hart:
[crosstalk 00:35:02]. Because we have a lot of open space. So [crosstalk 00:35:07]-

CJ Maurer:
Do you ever ride your horse to a store?

Emily Hart:
Not yet, but I asked my sister recently if it's illegal to take your horse down the road and she said she didn't think so. I know the Amish communities do it around here. Obviously they have their horse and carriage and they're on the road, but I didn't know if they had special licenses or anything, but I've definitely thought about it. I'm like, let's go back to horse and carriage, let's do it. I know we're not going to, but every once in a while I wish that there were places that I could tie my horse up at the store. That'd be cool.

CJ Maurer:
That's so cool. You should petition to do that. I've never been on a horse. I wouldn't rule it out, but I am scared of it because they're just massive animals. But they're pretty gentle most of the time. Right?

Emily Hart:
Yeah. And you really have to... Horses are very sensitive creatures. They're very big, but they're extremely sensitive. So I think that's what people might not understand when they're scared of horses is that you don't have to do big movements and stuff around them because they're very, very sensitive because they're flight animals. So they're looking for danger and any little thing will make them jump, et cetera. So [crosstalk 00:36:23]-

CJ Maurer:
I've gone up and pet them before-

Emily Hart:
Oh, good. Okay.

CJ Maurer:
So I wouldn't say it's like a deep fear, but the idea of getting on one and riding it, knowing how big they are and what would happen if they were to like buck me, that scares me.

Emily Hart:
Wow. You do fall off. I mean, my first riding instructor told me, "You're no good until you fall off a hundred times."

CJ Maurer:
Wow.

Emily Hart:
So you do fall. It's a thing. You fall off, I mean, when you start young, it's easier because you're just little and you fall off and they pop you back on the pony and yeah. It's not fun. I don't like falling off, always wear a helmet. I never ever get on a horse without a helmet ever, not for a minute.

CJ Maurer:
Just like riding a bike, but it's not just like riding a bike.

Emily Hart:
It's a little different because you've got to like animal with their own ideas.

CJ Maurer:
You can't just go like this to brake.

Emily Hart:
Right. I mean, there're certain ways that you do certain things, but horses are very, they have their own ideas. They're very much alive and spirited. And that's part of the fun of it. But it also is why it's a little different than riding bikes.

CJ Maurer:
You just said spirited. My daughter loves this cartoon on Disney Plus called Spirit. It's a cartoon of three girls and three horses and they go out and save the day and stuff like that.

Emily Hart:
Let me write that down because I love children's music and I used to love My Little Pony and stuff like that. So I'm going to check that out just for my own sake.

CJ Maurer:
Yeah. Spirit, it's on Netflix too I think.

Emily Hart:
Okay. Sweet.

CJ Maurer:
It's got a theme song. She sings it. She's got a couple other characters from it.

Emily Hart:
[crosstalk 00:37:59].

CJ Maurer:
It's really cute. So how many horses do you have?

Emily Hart:
We have four.

CJ Maurer:
Wow. What are their names?

Emily Hart:
Wilson, Houdini, Sam and Spud.

CJ Maurer:
Wow. Those are funny names

Emily Hart:
I guess. They're cool. They're awesome. They're like-

CJ Maurer:
Are they all males?

Emily Hart:
They're all males.

CJ Maurer:
Is there a name for a male horse versus a female horse? Like there is a deer, like buck and doe.

Emily Hart:
They're all geldings. Male is a mayor-

CJ Maurer:
Right. Okay.

Emily Hart:
... [crosstalk 00:38:34] is a stallion. [crosstalk 00:38:36]-

CJ Maurer:
And what is stallion?

Emily Hart:
Stallion is a breeding horse basically.

CJ Maurer:
Got it. Okay. Yeah. That's what I figured. I wasn't sure if there was anything else. Cool. Well, listen, Emily, I really like, I have really appreciated this conversation. I like you and I like your energy. I think not only was it fun to talk about horses, but I think to a larger point, it was fun speculating with you on everything that's going on, where this is going, the importance of local manufacturing. I want to thank you so much for taking some time out of your day to chat with me and maybe we can do it again some time.

Emily Hart:
Cool. Thanks CJ. It's really cool that you're doing this and keep it up.

CJ Maurer:
Thank you so much. Take care.

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