Did you know that more than half of the people that work at Studio M are women?! As a female employee, I know firsthand that supporting each other is a top priority here. From working in the warehouse to designing the catalog, the women at Studio M know how to get the job done – and have some fun doing it. I interviewed some of the many amazing women at our company. I hope their journeys inspire you!
The Boss Lady
Sue Todd is the co-founder and co-owner of Studio M. She is also the Director of Product Development, on top of many other things. She’s the definition of inspiration!
Why did you start your own business?
My goal back in 1989 was to work from home and spend more time with my kids. But I soon found out that it was very stressful working from home, as most of us can relate to these days. Once we developed our first product, MailWraps®, I knew I needed some backup. So, I hired other moms that were friends of mine who wanted to work from home too! Some of them are still working with me to this day.
What was your business journey like from the beginning?
When customers started to notice our magnetic mailbox cover in a few retail shops, they sent letters to me saying how much they liked our product. So, I started a mailing list and invested a little in advertising. Then the mailing list began to grow, and more retailers discovered us. From there, we started licensing artwork from local artists in St. Louis. This was when we grew a lot!
Partnering with super talented artists was a BIG step for us. We were shocked at the fast growth and amazing friendships we developed along the way. It was like a snowball effect – the more artists we partnered with, the more artists came to us to put their art on our MailWraps. It was an amazing time – full of excitement and hope for a bright future. The artists gave us a chance to succeed, and we’re so grateful for them. And since we started to grow so much, we had to move our business out of our house. In total, we moved into 5 different buildings because we kept running out of space!
What’s your most memorable moment as an entrepreneur?
I’d say one of them was when we moved out of our house in the early ‘90s and into a real office space. We needed a proper space to assemble and ship our mailbox covers. It felt so good to have a building to call our own!
Another memorable moment was when we connected with our first artist ever – Debbie Mumm. Before we partnered with a license artist, I wanted to hire someone to create a design for a MailWrap that was inspired by some Christmas dishes I owned. So, one day in my unfinished basement, I sent an email to Debbie about our mailbox cover business, and I heard back from her licensing agent the next day asking us to send them a MailWrap sample! Lo and behold, Debbie and her agent chose to work with us. I was over the moon when I heard the news!
One last moment I’d love to share was when I was invited to a retreat in Idaho that hosted manufactures from big companies that had tons of products. And there I was with just one product *giggles*. We were in awe to see all the different products from other businesses. This was the moment that I felt we were a part of the home décor industry.
Why is Studio M your passion?
All the people. My passion comes from the people I work with -- directly and indirectly. It's important to have contact with everyone from the beginning. I also cherish the relationships I have with the artists that I've worked with over the years. It's an easy friendship that I have with all of them. Developing and keeping relationships is what running a company is all about, especially when you want to grow a business.
What do you love to do in your free time?
I enjoy spending time with my granddaughter, going to the Lake of the Ozarks, reading a really good book that has a creative story, and working in my yard. I also love to teach myself how to knit and browse through Pinterest. But most of all, I enjoy having quality time with my family.
If someone could play you in a movie, who would it be?
Jamie Lee Curtis! I love her fun attitude about life. She was also my inspiration when I wanted a short haircut!
Sisters Deb Markovich and Diane Giammanco have worked at Studio M together for 13 years. They might work in different departments, but they’re a team, nonetheless.
What were your journeys like when you first started at Studio M?
Deb: My sister, Diane, told me about the receptionist job opening in 2008. I was in that role for over seven years – I really enjoyed it. Then in 2015, I moved to Accounts Receivable. I was in that position for a few years until a different position opened up for a Product Detail Assistant to work directly with Sue. I decided to apply and got the job. I’ve been loving it because I get to work in spreadsheets… I love using Excel *laughs*! But you know who got my Accounts Receivable position? My sister, Diane.
Diane: I was hired to work in Assembly in 2004. We were only producing MailWraps at the same and I remember my first MailWrap I ever packaged was a Georgia University mailbox cover. Back then, Assembly was completely different. We had to package, “pick” (grab the MailWraps from inventory), and hand them to the shipping department to mail out. As the company grew and introduced new products, I would package MatMates, work in shipping, and help out any department in the warehouse to fulfill orders. When the Accounts Receivable position came up in 2015, my sister recommended me to take her place. So, I interviewed and got the job! I was so happy I cried.
What is it like to work with your sister?
Deb: We don’t work a lot together, but we eat lunch together which is nice. I love seeing Diane happy while working in my old position. She is such a hard worker – she makes me proud.
Diane: I love having someone at work to talk, vent, and laugh about things that happen at the office. It’s really nice to have her to talk to and she has me.
What is your favorite memory about yourselves?
Deb: Being pregnant and finding out that I was having twin girls! I was shocked and scared to death, but everything turned out fine. I didn’t know the sex of the babies until after they were born. My doctor said he didn’t want to tell me because I already had two boys!
Diane: I loved having each of my three boys who happen to be four years apart. It’s funny because I had to go through high school for 12 years in a row *laughs*. I also love to think back on growing up with my two sisters and brother. Deb is the oldest sister and I’m the middle sister. One of my fondest memories was getting together with my siblings, aunts, and uncles. We would all go to church together and it was a lot of fun.
What do you love about working here?
Deb: From the first day I started it was like I stepped into heaven. The owners, Sue and Curt Todd, are there for their employees. They also make the work environment feel family-oriented. Being in such a positive environment makes my work feel like fun.
Diane: The owners are nice, fair, and great to work for. They were there for me when my mom was sick and as I was going through a divorce. Both life experiences were traumatic for me, but they were a big help. They care about their employees and not a lot of company owners are like that.
The Crafty Gal
Kerri Haag is the woman who makes our catalogs come to life. She is a wife, mom, and a true friend.
How would you describe your job?
One of my biggest duties as the Production Artist is paginating the catalog. I put every product, bar code, photo, and text in the right places. It’s kind of like crafting in a way. I would also describe it like putting together a puzzle – trying to make it all fit and look amazing.
What do you enjoy most about working at Studio M?
It’s a fun place to work! I love the small office atmosphere. It’s a great way to develop friendships with my co-workers. I also like the family aspect of the workplace. The owners treat you like family, so we treat each other the same way.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I love crafting at home. My favorite crafts are making wreaths and signs to put on my kitchen island. I also get a thrill out of rehabbing furniture. One of my most recent projects was refurbishing my daughter’s bed frame.
What is your favorite memory?
I got offered a production design internship with a local advertising agency when I was a sophomore in college. I remembered screaming with excitement when I got the job! I actually continued to intern with them through the rest of my college career before they hired me as a full-time employee after I graduated. It was some of the best experience I’ve ever received. I even met my husband while working with that company. We’ve been married now for almost 18 years, have three children and dog named Daisy.
The Mother-Daughter Duo
Sandy and Kim are just one of the fun mother-daughter duos at Studio M. They are best friends and love working side-by-side in the warehouse.
How did you two start working together?
Kim: My aunt worked at Studio M and told me about an Assembly Production job that opened up in 2013. Then there was a job opening for Art Pole Assembly in 2016, so I told my mom, Sandy, about the opportunity! The most exciting thing was in 2020 we were both promoted to Fulfillment Coordinators – I oversee Art Planters and Pots and my mom oversees Art Poles.
What has your work journey been like?
Kim: I started wrapping Art Planters and Pots. But once the company expanded their product line, I started assembling Art Poles and gathering products for customer orders. I’ve been able to work in almost every position in the warehouse and have learned so much.
Sandy: My main focus has always been Art Poles – wrapping, tagging, and boxing them. I’ve also assembled birdhouses and Birdhouse Art Poles. I’m always ready to jump in and help where needed as well.
What’s your favorite thing about Studio M?
Kim: I love working with my husband and mom. I have literal family and my work family all at the same place. Everyone cares about each other and the work we accomplish – that makes a difference in the workplace.
Sandy: I enjoy working with my family and work family as well. My co-workers and I take pride in our work. Knowing that we’re assembling good products for customers to enjoy is the best feeling.
Do you two spend as much time together outside of work?
Sandy: I love spending time with my family, especially during non-work hours! I like doing the same hobbies that my kids enjoy – and they love having me around! I have six children, so I get to experience a lot of different hobbies *giggles*.
If someone could play you in a movie, who would it be?
Kim: I’d say Kristen Bell. I think her quirky personality matches mine.
Sandy: I love Diane Keaton! I like that she has her own style and stays true to herself. She’s also funny but serious.
Thanks for stopping by the blog! I hope you had fun learning more about the women behind the scenes at Studio M.