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Russell & MacKenna Furniture: Maryland's cottage industry

Russell & Mackenna started in a Severna Park garage, but today its furniture is popular coast-to-coast

July 08, 2011|By Dennis Hockman, Chesapeake Home + Living

From one wood shelf to dozens of product designs and an upholstery line, the Russell & Mackenna evolution came full circle this spring when the company purchased the Maine Cottage brand, maker of the bright blue beadboard bookshelf that Russell had always wanted.

"Maine Cottage fell victim to the recession," says Russell. "When we learned that it might be possible to acquire all, or part, of Maine Cottage, our largest competitor, we decided to make it happen."

So what's next for Russell & Mackenna now that Maine Cottage is part of the family?

"From Day 1, our goal has been to build furniture that lifts the spirit and holds its value over time," says Russell. "The Maine Cottage brand will help us do this more quickly and accomplish that goal on a national basis."

Dennis Hockman is editor of Chesapeake Home + Living magazine. He can be reached at dhockman@tribune.com.

Where to buy

Russell & Mackenna

A showroom is available at the Maine Cottage signature store, 8R Evergreen Road, Severna Park 21146, 410-315-9011; russellmackenna.com. The showroom is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday -Friday and 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. Russell & Mackenna and Maine Cottage home furnishings are also available locally through Fern Hill in Baltimore, Urban Country in Bethesda, Bountiful in Easton and Well Built in Washington, as well as J. Conn Scott in Selbyville, Del., and Rehoboth Beach, Del. Check online for a list of other dealers.

About the owners

Lauren Russell

Russell & Mackenna's founder and creative director, she is responsible for all aspects of product design and marketing. With an academic background in fine arts and professional experience as an ad agency art director and a marketing consultant specializing in consumer products, Russell created her own dream job when she launched her furniture business in 2003. "I love coming to work," says Russell. "Right now we are merging two companies and are definitely feeling some growing pains, but is exciting to see our sales volume grow."

"My favorite part of the job is managing the process of designing and marketing a new collection, and then seeing how people receive it," says Russell.

Larry Strassner

The CEO of Russell & Mackenna is also Lauren Russell's father. He relocated from Norfolk, Va., to Severna Park to help run the business. A graduate of West Point, where he received a degree in engineering, Strassner also holds an MBA in finance from Loyola University Maryland. His professional background includes military service and a career in finance and management. His passion for business balances his daughter's passion for design.

"What I like most about the job is getting to work with Lauren and to watch this team we have put together function. I spent my carreer in meetings around conference tables, and I would put our group up against any management team I have worked with. I would hate to compete against this company," says Strassner.

Kevin Russell

Lauren Russell's husband is a shareholder in the company and helped start it, but he currently works for the Severn School. He earned a bacherlor's degree from Salisbury University in 1995, and then worked as a financial service representative at T. Rowe Price in Baltimore before joining the staff of the Severn School.

Kevin and Lauren live in Severna Park with their three daughters: Sawyer, 9; Gretchen, 7; and Libby, 4.

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