Friends in the furniture business
Kelly Dondanville (left) and Anne Fitzpatrick sell their homewares at Seagrass, the downtown Winnetka boutiques. | Jackie Pilossoph~For Sun-Times Media
Chestnut & Scott
Hours: by Appointment
Updated: January 9, 2013 11:27AM
WINNETKA — When Kelly Dondanville saw her neighbors taking down a tree in their front yard, it sparked an idea.
“I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be amazing to make a table or something else out of a tree you loved?’” said the Wilmette personal trainer and mother of three girl., “I had seen tree stump tables, but they were fiber glass, and manufactured, not natural.”
Dondanville’s husband helped her clean the tree, dry it out, condition it, paint it and seal it, and when she saw the finished product, she was enamored by it. So was one of her closest friends, Anne Fitzpatrick.
“One day, Anne was helping me lift one of the tables into my car and she looked at me and said, ‘I think you’re really onto something. Do you want a partner?’”
That’s how Chestnut & Scott was born eight months ago.
Dondanville and Fitzpatrick design and manufacture furniture and home accessories, including tree stump tables, stools, candle plates, candle holders, lamps and pillows. Everything they produce is made from trees and other recycled materials such as blankets, bike tires, and flower sacks.
“When you’re taking something that’s no longer useful, and making it something artful and beautiful, there’s a sentimental value,” said Fitzpatrick, a home stager who lives in Winnetka with her husband and three children. “It’s giving life to something that was dead. There’s purpose to it and history behind it.”
Friends for 17 years, both women bring something different to the table when it comes to the success of Chestnut & Scott.
“We’re a great combo,” said Dondanville. “I’m the sales and marketing person and Anne is the creative, idea person. I’m creative, too, but Anne calls me every morning with a new idea.”
Chestnut & Scott sell by appointment, but certain pieces are carried in Seagrass, a furniture and accessories boutique in downtown Winnetka.
Becky White has worked at Seagrass for four years, and said so many customers love accessorizing their homes with pieces made from recycled products.
“A lot of people have second homes in Wisconsin and Michigan and love wood products like these,” she said, “They look great in a cottage or a contemporary home, and it’s fun to mix up the two looks.”
The items range in price from $80-$300 in stores, but cost less when customers get them directly from the company.
Chestnut & Scott also give back, donating 10 percent of all their sales to Breakthrough, a non-profit organization that provides shelter, job training counseling and other services to men and women affected by poverty.
“They do more than just feed and shelter people,” said Fitzpatrick. “They help them learn new skills, and we’ve learned new skills starting this business so it was similar and that cause really hit home to us.”
Both women said the business is challenging, and that the most fun part is the actual crafting of their pieces.
“We sand, we paint, we wash,” said Dondanville. “It’s hard physical work and we don’t look like this when we’re working. We’re covered in mud, with sawdust all over us.”
“Everything is fun for us. It’s time together, it’s meeting new people, it’s watching our kids seeing us try something and it’s the creative outlet,” said Fitzpatrick.
“They’ve really found a niche here,” said White, “They’ve found a way to bring these trees that would have been used for nothing, and make them into something beautiful and put them into people’s homes.”