4 Questions for Kim Strassner Co-Owner, Words with Boards

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Five years ago, Kim Strassner and her husband Mike Pararas opened Words with Boards, a Baltimore-based company that makes custom cutting boards and other wood items. The ultimate wedding gift, the boards have earned the attention of both Oprah and Martha Stewart as well as many locals, who find them to be a most giftable treasure.

Mike Pararas and Kim Strassner

Q: Why cutting boards?

A: I made one in woodshop in eighth grade — we actually have it hanging in our studio because my mom kept it all these years. It says “Chop.” A few years ago, Mike and I had some leftover butcher block from a kitchen remodel, and I said, “Let’s make cutting boards for the family for the holidays,” and they were a huge hit. It took off from there, and we kept adding. We’ve added lazy Susans, trivets, trays and now baby announcements and pet stuff.

Q: Previously, you designed and sold medical anatomical models. What are those, and how did you transition from that to your current career?

A: The models are used in a doctor’s office for patient education, anything from a heart muscle to a lung model to any organ model. But they were all custom, so it was coming up with an idea in your head, getting it in a 3-D rendering form and then getting it manufactured. That’s sort of similar in the product development and design in our current business. And then the manufacturing processes are similar. The main difference is that everything in that business was imported, and we make everything for Words with Boards in the U.S., which we’re super proud of.

Q: How do you and your husband divide the workload?

A: His domain is the wood shop, and he does all of our graphic and packaging design. He handles our product photography, too. I handle the sales, the marketing, customer service, the website, social media, packing and shipping. Obviously, we collaborate within our roles. If something big comes up, we talk about it and discuss it. For day-to-day operations, we can kind of go our separate ways and do our own thing.

Q:What do you like about being a small-business owner?

A: I really get satisfaction from building something from scratch, something that people really love and something that no one else is doing, which is kind of cool. When we started, I thought we would be successful because our product is so unique. Because of that, I thought we had the potential to get attention. And we did.

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