Sarah Grant & Rachel Eubank of Sticks, Inc.

Sarah Grant and Rachel Eubank of Sticks, Inc.

Sarah Grant and Rachel Eubank of Sticks, Inc.

When you grow up with an artist for a mother, joining the family business can be an intimidating prospect. Just ask Sarah Grant, founder of Sticks, and her daughter Rachel Eubank.

“I had worked at Sticks part-time in high school. But I never really had any interest in being an artist,” Rachel says.

Sarah adds, “I did not think she would ever be a part of the Sticks business. When she went to the University of Iowa and majored in political science and marketing, she was really focused on systems and how things work, not in the artistic side of things.”

So Rachel’s development into the chief operating officer at Sticks, the popular home furnishings and decor company based in Des Moines, came after an unexpected twist in her career path. Unbeknownst to her mother, Rachel was the top applicant when a position opened up for an events manager at Sticks.

“Our HR manager showed me a résumé and said, ‘I have this wonderful, energized young woman I think would be great for the events management job.’ I said, ‘Hmm. I know her,’” Sarah remembers with a laugh.

In the 12 years since Rachel joined the staff at Sticks, she’s learned all aspects of the business, from events to marketing to retail sales, and is now chief operating officer. This has enabled Sarah to step back from the day-to-day management of the company and focus on the artistic aspect, which was her first love.

“Anyone who grows up in a family business knows that it’s a 24-7 job because it’s more than just a job,” Rachel says. “Mom and I have butted heads occasionally, but we both know we’re in it for the long haul. And what we both want is what’s best for the company.”

Sarah says that despite some tense times as Rachel’s role in the company evolved, she’s gained an even greater appreciation for Rachel’s gifts. “It’s been hard at times, especially because I equate everything with the Sticks name as having my name on it. But Rachel has demonstrated a real understanding and interest in every aspect of the business—except making the art, which is what I’m good at. So when her sisters said we needed to make it official and put Rachel in charge of the business side so I could focus on the art, and let some of the stress go, I realized they were right.”

“I don’t know how to describe Mom’s position right now,” Rachel says. “She’s the artistic heart and soul of Sticks, and I think she’s able to focus on that again.”

Sarah has no plans to retire, but she says she’s enjoying just getting out of Rachel’s way and seeing where the business goes.