The importance of small business collaboration
In Georgetown, just a couple miles north of Austin, in the Red Poppy Capital of Texas, a father-daughter duo is celebrating their tenth anniversary making incredible handcrafts. Mod Mettle is a family business creating steel products to increase your home’s curb appeal. In this interview, we get to talk with Holly Kratz & Hal Hargrove regarding how to work (and thrive) with your family, the passion and attention to detail in their products and the importance of collaboration between small businesses.
The origins of Mod Mettle
Original designs, quality craftsmanship and stellar customer service are the characteristics that distinguish Mod Mettle in the industry. And this can be traced back to 2013, when Hal made some custom steel pieces for Holly’s new home. “It was an “Aha” moment when we realized our individual talents could be combined to make beautifully designed and fabricated products for the home” Holly remarks.
Holly has always been into decoration and design since she was just a kid. So when her parents bought her a Victorian dollhouse kit, “I was able to pick out the paint, wallpaper, furniture and make it my own. It ignited my passion for design and home goods”.
Her interest in design has driven her professional career, and since 2007 she has been working in interior design. She relishes being her own boss: “If you would have asked me 15 years ago if I would quit my design job to start my own steel goods company, I would have thought you were out of your mind! It’s been a fun challenge to work with steel and learn all about the various equipment in our shop”.
Fortunately, Holly couldn’t find a better partner in this than her own father. Hal has more than 30 years of experience in welding and metalcraft and he welcomes this opportunity to explore different aspects of working with steel: “In my career, I’ve worked outside in the heat / cold and dealt with a lot of homeowners and builders. I like working in the shop on smaller pieces with more attention to detail”.
This attention to detail is key in Mod Mettle products: Producing our signs requires a lot of finesse and skill. Perfect welds, neat grinds and smooth finishes… We try to make every handmade product that goes out our door look like a machine made it.
Of course, as any other job, there can be some friction, but Hal and Holly know that, at the end of the day, their relationship is the most important thing: “Running a business is challenging but we try to make work as fun as possible. My Dad is always there to center me when I’m stressed and provide a ridiculous “Dad joke” to make me smile and roll my eyes.”
Be sure your personalities mesh well and that you have the same goals and values for your company. Happy people make happy products!
Reading the signs
When designing a home, an element that a lot of people ignore is their signage; it’s kind of a problem if your friends or delivery drivers can’t find it. Holly is convinced that having a beautiful, well designed house number is the first impression: When I see a beautiful home with an outdated font or mismatched numbers, it’s a letdown. If they are old and dated or not visible, it’s not a great first impression.
Being specialized in house numbers was also a coincidence. Hal and Holly started selling wall planters in 2013 and they considered the magnetic address numbers just as an add-on product. But when they noticed their customers were primarily using them as address signs, they decided to shift their focus: We started adding new signs gradually based on what customers were requesting and then it became our niche market. We’ve branched out into a few other areas, but signage sells the best for us.
Mod Mettle specializes in steel and aluminum signs and their hand craftsmanship is one of the best in the market. So when Holly reached us for a collaboration, we dropped one of the fastest Yes in recorded history!
Holly recalls: I saw the clay tile numbers when I was shopping at Garden Seventeen a few years ago and thought they were fabulous. One day I was walking in my neighborhood and started noticing that quite a few homes in my area had hand painted tile house numbers. Those intricate painted tiles aren’t really our style, but it jogged my memory about Clay Imports’ modern clay tiles.
As a result, Mod Mettle developed the steel framing system using Clay Imports House Numbers. This system is called Mod Mettle X Clay Imports Address sign and is available in black and white and constructed of handmade clay tiles in a 11-gauge steel frame, the plaque is mounted using solid steel standoffs which are included with every plaque. Two holes are drilled in the wall and the plaque is then installed with an adhesive to secure the standoffs within the holes. This allows the sign to float a little off the wall and look sleek and clean from the side.
Together, we developed with a lot of care and detail a product that will endure the test of time. As Holly mentions: In a world obsessed with prime shipping and mass-produced junk, I think there’s a growing movement to fill a home thoughtfully instead of quickly.
Small businesses are true innovators. Why compete when you can work together and both win?!
To learn more, visit modmettle.com, and check out their instagram. You'll find the collaboration with Clay Imports in their story highlights. And remember, if you have any questions or want to collaborate with us, reach out at email@example.com or chat with us here.