HUNTERSVILLE – One of Courtney Ronay’s wildest dreams came true Dec. 11.
A segment of “The Today Show” on NBC with Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb highlighted Ronay’s wooden monograms made by her company, Southern Nest.
The segment, called “Gifts Off the Beaten Path,” displayed a sampling of Ronay’s monograms on the show. The Huntersville resident called it “the ultimate thing” to happen to her business.
Ronay founded Southern Nest in October 2011 after spending the previous six years working as a pharmaceutical representative for Daiichi Sankyo.
“I wanted to start a business and be able to work at home and take care of my son, Briggs,” Ronay said. “This was the perfect fit.”
She had no past in making monograms, but that hasn’t stopped Ronay from developing her business into a thriving online enterprise.
Ronay’s company has grown tenfold since she started it. She contracted out the painting work to local artisans for Southern Nest’s monograms a year into operation. It didn’t take that long to make a splash across the country.
The Nester, a popular decorating blog, featured Southern Nest not long after Ronay got started, with the author writing that Ronay's work was some of the best she'd seen. Sales came in at such a high volume that Ronay had to halt the ordering process by Christmas 2011.
Ronay figures demand will only increase after her exposure on “The Today Show.” The opportunity presented itself just before Thanksgiving, when the show’s stylist, Laurin Sydney, reached out to Ronay with interest of having her products, company name and hometown on the show.
Ronay said she instantly agreed, giving it no second thought.
“You don’t hesitate when 'The Today Show' calls,” she said. “You work and have a dream, and it was something like this. I was thrilled. Shocked beyond words. You picture it and hope it happens, but it was still a surprise to be able to think, ‘I’ve accomplished what I set out to do.’”
There’s still more work to be done, however. Southern Nest, which also offers wooden silhouettes, chalkboards and frames, had its products picked up by Poppies Gifts at Birkdale in Huntersville soon after she started the business. The goal now is to further increase demand.
Southern Nest offers painted and unpainted wooden monograms ranging in cost from $12 to $225, made from high-quality Russian Baltic Birch. It’s that sort of quality, Ronay said, which sets Southern Nest apart from others.
“It’s not necessarily all the style, although style is a part of it,” she said. “We want it to represent the South.”
Ronay works on the monograms with the help of her assistant, Megan Huskins, and about 10 contractors.
The support Ronay’s family has provided her, she said, kept her going when the hours became nearly unmanageable early on in the business.
“It’s been an arduous journey to get here. One-hundred percent of my free time went to this,” she said. “Pairing that with raising a child and having another on the way and there’s more than one job to do. It’s still been a quick uptake. I feel very fortunate to have this opportunity come my way.”