After a long, hard day at the office, Stamford lawyer Audrey Medd loves to settle into her large arts and crafts room and make notebooks — using recycled boxes of everything from Cheerios to Friskies and Milk-Bone.
At first it was just a release from the day's stressful demands. But over the past year, the fun, colorful notebooks and journals have been in high demand. So much in demand, that Medd has recently filled wholesale orders from as far away as Texas and Australia.
"It's a great stress release to walk into my craft room — crowded with every type of medium and craft you can imagine, go into a zone and make books. I just love graphics and the game boards and boxes," she said.
Pierre the Pooch Designs was launched on New Year's Day 2012 and offers handcrafted notebooks, sketchbooks, journals, diaries and recipe books made of recycled materials (mainly cereal boxes and game boards). They are available online through Etsy. Medd also sells her creations at area craft shows, including the upcoming Monroe Apple Festival on Sept. 8.
Longtime friend and architect Daniel John Jaconetti, who makes candles, often shares a booth at the fairs with Medd. He said people are always impressed with Medd's craft display.
"A typical reaction from people at a fair regarding Audrey's books is 'wow, how clever and unique they are. It's so wonderful that you are giving a second life to these materials,'" Jaconetti said.
Medd has been a practicing attorney in Connecticut and New York for more than nine years and works for The Law Office of Frank N. Peluso, P.C., a small general practice firm in Stamford. Over the years, her practice has included personal injury and medical malpractice insurance defense. Peluso hired her after her graduation from Quinnipiac University School of Law.
Medd is currently in the midst of starting her own practice, which she hopes will involve protecting animals.
Although her business doesn't focus on animals beyond the Milk-Bone covers, Medd named the business after her now 13-year-old cocker spaniel, Pierre. However, 5 percent of all profits go to animal rescue/animal benefit organizations and organizations that have an interest in animals. Pierre was a rescued dog that came into Medd's life when she was a law student at Quinnipiac.
"He used to attend classes with me and was always there studying. In fact, he walked at graduation with all of us," said the 35-year-old lawyer. Pierre also shares a love of paper and Medd said shredding Christmas wrapping paper is one of his greatest delights.
Medd, who lives in Danbury, isn't the only entrepreneur in the family. Her husband of two years, Steven Medd, is a chemical engineer who brews his own beer and is working on his brewing certification. As an homage to him, she makes notebooks out of discarded six-pack cartons.
One of Medd's most popular items is a Monopoly notebook made of index cards with a Monopoly deed border. Some of the deed cards date back more than 50 years. Medd finds her materials in thrift stores and from friends and family members.
"The fun thing is a notebook is made out of a Cheerios box or a Fruit Loops box," she said. "People will pick up a cracker box or a cake mix box and they love it because they have a child who had a favorite cereal. Sometimes they become family recipe notebooks. Kids love them — it's so cool to have a notebook with your favorite cereal."
Another appeal for her products is that the covers are made with recycled material and she uses top quality paper. Medd's mother is an artist and for her sketch books, she uses 90-pound drawing paper and uses pared down game boards for the cover. Medd said the demand for her crafts continues and has gone worldwide; with sales now as far away as the "White Moose" design gifts store in Australia. Since last year, Medd has been a vendor at several craft fairs in Connecticut and New York. She brings about 125 items and has more than once sold out completely. Notebook prices range from $6 to $8.
Medd said when the business started, "it was a little side stress relief. When you do medical malpractice, it can get tough after a while. Then it started to really take off. I started to get a lot of requests to sell at various locations."
Despite the success of her business, Medd said she wants to keep it small and relatively stress-free. Mass-production isn't in her future. "I'm not trying to take away from my career as a lawyer. I like doing it because I like creating it. The marketing side is not as much fun." Having a legal background, however, comes in handy. Medd said it's easy for her to research trademark infringement laws and draft up sale of good contracts.
"That's what my legal background has helped me with most — understanding the intricacies of the law," she said.•