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Conversations with Catherine Horzen

Today we’d like to introduce you to Catherine Horzen.

Hi Catherine, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
I started Peligo chairs when an old beach chair was resurrected in my parents’ garage. My parents were moving and downsizing houses, so they were getting rid of a lot of stuff. We were having a yard sale consecutively while clearing out the garage. I found the old tattered chair in the garage and asked my mom what it was. She enthusiastically responded it was “our old beach chairs.” I asked her to show me how it worked and I immediately fell in love. When I couldn’t find these vintage beach chairs anywhere in 2016, I decided to start a company to bring them back to the limelight. With a few modern updates to the design, Peligo was born. I enlisted my Uncle Tony to help me craft the first frame and my Aunt Karen and mom to help me with the updated fabric design. I then went home and bought a miter saw and a couple of drill presses and got to work. I currently make each of the chair frames by hand. I only knew what my uncle had shown me about using the tools.

A toolbelt later, I am an old pro now. I started getting the word out about these vintage-style chairs using social media and selling at Farmers Markets and other city-based vendor events. At that point, I only had the Beachline and the Simply Beach line. While on a girl’s trip to Palm Springs, I found myself sitting on the edge of the pool, slouching, and thought, “you know what would be good here, my chair!” And then, the Pool line was developed. I launched a website and started selling in an ecommerce setting as well. One of my customers loved the chair so much, she recommended I sell to her timeshare complex, which I did with her help. With three established lines, I then grew the exposure to the hospitality industry. Some of my clients are referrals, some are good-old-fashioned pounding the pavement and cold calls, and some find their way to me via social media. The thing I love most about these chairs is the ability to get the full beach experience sitting right in the sand letting the grains of sand tickle your toes while the ocean serenades you with salty kisses. I am excited about the future and where Peligo is headed as we grow.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Is that such a thing? A smooth road starting a business? Just checking to see if anyone else had this “smooth road” experience that I did not. All jokes aside, no. It has not been smooth, but every bump has created a growth opportunity and a learning experience. Like a lot of people starting a company, I had a traditional 9-5 job with a constant salary, benefits, and paid time off when I decided to take Peligo full time. It was a very scary decision to eliminate the safety net of a constant paycheck. Early on, each time something didn’t work out as I had hoped or expected, I found myself wondering if quitting my traditional job was the right decision. I worked at Stanford Hospital in my past experience, and there I had a boss who encouraged mistakes…with the expectation to learn from those mistakes and make corrections. It was also one of the department pillars, “continuously learn and improve.” I took that approach to every challenge that came my way and that helped me keep my head up. Issues I ran into varied from finding enough time to do the labor of building the chairs and the ancillary parts of running a business, finding a good wood distributor, selecting the right wood, finding a fabric vendor, identifying how to keep costs down, identifying what venues were best to promote the product, getting the design right, this list could be endless. Another challenge I ran into, and still struggle with, is balancing my personal life with running a new business.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I have worn many hats in my career since I graduated college. When I quit my most current job, a friend of mine said, “…how many people do you know that have reinvented themselves three times by 40 years old?” and it kind of hit me at that moment that I have always taken risks, I just didn’t realize it in the moment. After I graduated college, I started my professional career as a high school teacher and cheerleading coach. I taught high school English and coached cheerleading from 2004-2012, eventually ending up at the junior college level to coach cheerleading and teach within the Kinesiology department. In 2012, an opportunity to teach electronic health records at hospitals was presented to me. I interviewed and took a job at UCLA working specifically to train the Emergency Department doctors for a major software launch. After UCLA, I interviewed and accepted a job at Stanford Hospital taking on the role of leading the education effort for installs of the same software for clinics the hospital was acquiring. It was during my time at Stanford that we had the down-sizing yard sale at my parents’ house leading me to the next leap of faith in my career. I stayed in the electronic health records space for about two more years and then fully quit to pursue Peligo.

While moving from traditional teaching to teaching electronic health records had similarities, moving into running a business and building a chair out of wood was starkly different than anything I had ever done. I currently make each Peligo chair by hand which consists of sanding, branding the logo into the wood, staining, sanding again, and assembly. Each chair has six pieces to the frame and utilizes four dowels for construction. Originally, I was cutting each frame and each hole too, but we’ve grown so much that I have the woodcuts done at a local shop in Hermosa Beach now. My favorite thing about these chairs, which makes them unlike other beach chairs, is the ability for the user to have a full beach experience- for the user to be able to sit directly in the sand feeling the warmth of the sand on their legs and truly immersing into a day at the beach. The wood frame of the Peligos also sets them apart from other beach chairs making them sustainable and eco-friendly. The chairs only weigh 4lbs and fold up to a 1.5″ depth making them super easy to transport and to store. Peligos are a premium, hand-crafted product, elevating the beach chair industry. I love putting on my dusty clothes to work in the workshop to bring these chairs to life. It’s a nice contrast to the computer work side of the business.

Where do you see things going in the next 5-10 years?
The beach chair industry has been around for a long time. As for Peligo’s role in this industry, I hope to see a wider audience of people who know about Peligo as an option for a beach chair and growth with our hospitality partners.

Pricing:

  • Beach line: $65.00
  • Simply Beach line: $55.00
  • Pool line: $55.00

Contact Info:

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