Even on Saturday, the phone keeps ringing. Karen Booth Adams, who has briefly stopped by the office, can’t resist tending to the calls. Finally, after fielding a half-dozen queries, she cheerfully mutters, “It’s time we get some weekend help.”
That’s a problem that Adams is thrilled to have. Less than two years after launching PoshTots, their high-end children’s furniture Web site, she and partner Andrea Edmunds have turned it into that rarest of commodities: a profitable dotcom, with $3 million in sales projected for 2002. “They have the upper end of the market cornered,” says Sheila Long O’Mara, former editor of Kids Today trade magazine. “I wouldn’t want to compete against them.”
The site’s 2,000-plus items, from ballerina-slipper door-knobs ($18) to a bed shaped like Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage ($39,500)—many of which are custom-made—have reeled in Hollywood customers like Jada Pinkett Smith and Courtney Love. “The kids go crazy for it,” says actor Chris O’Donnell, who just purchased a $4,799 Storybook Bungalow playhouse for children Lily, 3, and Christopher, 23 months. “I can’t imagine having something like this as a kid.”
Neither could Adams, who was building a new home in 1999 with husband Dru, 33, and wanted, she says, “wacky, whimsical” furniture for daughters Sarah, 5, and Olivia, 3. That year, Adams, 32, interviewed Edmunds, 35, for a job at Fahrenheit Technology, the information-tech company she founded in 1999, and they bonded over their inability to find unique children’s furniture. Recalls Edmunds, who has two daughters, Madison, 6, and Emma, 2: “I said, ‘When I couldn’t find what I wanted, I just did it myself.'” Which is what they did. The pair created PoshTots, using $1 million from Adams’s personal savings, and persuaded 60 artisans to showcase their products on the site. “I was skeptical about someone buying such a high-ticket item on the Web,” says playhouse designer Steven Chernicky. “They proved me wrong.”
After the November 2000 launch, “there were a couple of scary moments,” says Dru Adams, a musician who just started a boat-building business. Soon, however, a set decorator for Stuart Little 2 contacted them to order a crib for the film. Buoyed by word of mouth—and Edmunds’s access to potential celeb clients through husband Andy, 41, a location scout for the Virginia Film Office—PoshTots took off. By June 2001, it was in the black.
It wasn’t the first success for the pair, both of whom live in Richmond, Va. After growing up in nearby Farmville listening to franchise tips from dad Tommy, 54, who ran an agricultural irrigation company, Adams presided over three information-tech businesses. Meanwhile, the Richmond-born Edmunds was working as a probation officer. In 1996, she collaborated with sister Lisa, a former pediatric nurse, on Grandma’s Fussbuster, a CD of soothing sounds like running water to calm colicky babies, and promoted the album on the Today show.
Now another big NBC show has come calling: Friends‘ Oct. 10 episode features a PoshTots adult glider chair and changing chest. PoshLiving, a spinoff furniture site for adults, launches next year. “Two years ago, we had to convince people that we were going to make it,” says Edmunds. “Now they believe us.”
Macon Morehouse in Richmond