How Jami Furniss founded The Moxie Agency and Moxie Weighted Blankets

How Jami Furniss founded The Moxie Agency and Moxie Weighted Blankets

How Jami Furniss founded The Moxie Agency and Moxie Weighted Blankets
Photo courtesy of Jami Furniss

The Founder Series is a column by and about Utah founders and how they got to where they are today. Click here to read past articles in the series.

Becoming a business owner started in grade school when I sold candy bars for 10 cents cheaper than the vending machine prices. I remember watching the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl as a kid, and I paid close attention to the commercials. I wanted to be involved in that world and be the creative genius behind making people laugh and cry.

Marketing and advertising were a natural fit for me, and I became increasingly obsessed with it. Working for multiple companies preceded branching out on my own, where I held both big and not-so-big positions. But when I started The Moxie Agency in 2016, I hit the ground running and haven’t stopped.

Dreaming up solutions

Just a few years later, my son started having horrible nightmares night after night. I needed to help him find a way to stop them that didn’t include a pill. Extensive research led me to a possible solution: weighted blankets.

I didn’t like the first blankets I bought at all. The reasons ran the gamut: from cumbersome duvet covers to not being machine washable and made out of terribly scratchy material, they didn’t seem kid-friendly. I decided I could take this idea and improve on it. I put on my entrepreneur and mom hats simultaneously and set out to answer the question, “How do we make weighted blankets better?”

It meant creating a blanket that didn’t yet exist by solving the issues the others had. It meant using the softest material I could find, including weight that did not shift and could be evenly distributed. And if this was going to be a blanket for everyone—getting juice box spills, random Cheerios, and smashed candy all over—it absolutely had to be machine washable.

I created a prototype to bring home. When I gave it to my son, I took great care to inform him that it was a magic blanket that had been through a lot of training to protect him from all the horrible nightmares and creatures camping out under his bed. The first night he used it, he slept without waking up for the first time in years. His nights were once filled with night terrors, and now they weren’t. This was a turning point.

My son started getting the sleep he needed, and so did I. When you get the sleep you require, your lifestyle gets an automatic upgrade in return. Stress is alleviated. I started thinking: surely other moms were fighting similar problems with their kids? They also needed an exit strategy, and a weighted blanket might just help. So, in 2019, Moxie Weighted Blankets was born.

How Jami Furniss founded The Moxie Agency and Moxie Weighted Blankets
Photo courtesy of Jami Furniss

Finding momentum took at least six months longer than I‘d initially hoped for, but it happened. Sales started coming around. I participated in pitch contests for grant money and won three of them. It was nothing substantial, but $1,000 here and there is significant when you’re a self-funded company.

Moxie Blankets became a new adventure. What started as a kids-specific product and brand quickly expanded to include other consumers, namely moms and dads. It’s a great thing we made that shift when we did—of our three lines, our adult blankets are our most popular. 

The Bickering Sisters and diversifying dreams

A friend of mine started a breakfast restaurant with her sister called The Bickering Sisters, which is now located in the Ogden Airport. When her sister moved on, she was alone—a single sister with no other to happily bicker with. She came to me saying she needed help running it. We had previously discussed bringing me on as a partner, then decided against it. When the conversation resurfaced, though, the timing was on our side. I decided to take the plunge. It was less of a “Why?” and more of a “Why not?”

Besides, it was a long-held dream of mine to own a bakery one day. I used to tease that my retirement would lead to opening a bakery in Cape Cod. The good thing was that, at this restaurant, I could do more. I could bake, cook and experiment with new recipes constantly, blending off-the-wall flavors with all things beautiful and tasty. While the restaurant is very different from my other two businesses, it’s OK: it helps diversify my portfolio. If I experience a slow season with one, another compensates.

I’ve managed my career independently, meaning more than one business has always felt necessary. A few companies have come along and been promptly sold or bought—this is nothing new to the world of entrepreneurialism. Dabbling in other ventures is a constant, if not a norm. Even now, with three companies to my name, more opportunities are possible.

As any entrepreneur knows, sometimes your business is busy, and sometimes it isn’t. There are ebbs and flows along the way. When one is down, the other is up. As the agency slows, Moxie Blankets picks up. That rhythm has been established. Having opposite high seasons is nice; at the same time, the restaurant will always be a draw because people need to eat. It’s its own beast, but it’s a genuinely nice addition.

On motherhood and juggling three thriving businesses

Owning three businesses and being a single mom can be tricky. My kids have grown up with me being a business owner, and my son and daughter are familiar with what that means. Sometimes, we eat ramen noodles for weeks on end. Other weeks, we enjoy steak. They’ll occasionally bus tables and wash dishes if we’re shorthanded. I lean on them to help if we do a pop-up market for the blankets—if it’s a good show, they get paid, and if it isn’t, they won’t. I’m a lucky mom, though, because they roll up their sleeves when needed and get it done.

“I’ve managed my career independently, meaning more than one business has always felt necessary. ... Even now, with three companies to my name, more opportunities are possible.”

There is nothing we can’t solve together. I’ve done all I can to instill that work ethic into them. Sometimes life is hard; business is also hard, and regularly so. But no matter what, we have each other to depend on.

Before becoming a three-time business owner, I worked for a beef jerky manufacturer and traveled extensively. My kids got used to my being gone for a couple of weeks out of every month. They know what it’s like to have a very ambitious mom. Sometimes, I get a little carried away and over-focused on work, a character flaw I have to grapple with.

Sometimes, they’ll call me out and say I’m not spending enough time with them. When that first happened, it was a hard lesson to learn and hear as a mom. You never want to hear that you’re not doing a good job or failing in your responsibilities. But I can acknowledge it as the truth: there was a time when I wasn’t being a good mom because I was so focused on being a powerhouse businesswoman and entirely focused on my career instead. I wanted to prove that I could be a mom, own my own business and make it work. I got my priorities mixed up along the way. It took my kids to lead me in a different direction and bring me back down to Earth.

The good part is that I now know I can get carried away. Because of that, I have made a conscious effort to be present when I’m with my kids. I don’t answer the phone. Business calls will not get answered. I won’t sit back 30 years from now and wish I’d have taken a business call over spending time with my family. I’m never going to wish I had stayed at the office for three more hours and missed out on my son’s baseball game.

It comes down to this: while I have loved—and will continue to revel in—every single blanket sale that comes in, none of them will compare to watching my son hit a home run, a shopping trip with my daughter or a date night with my loving and supporting man. Family is number one.

How Jami Furniss founded The Moxie Agency and Moxie Weighted Blankets
Photo courtesy of Jami Furniss

Jami Furniss is an entrepreneur at heart with a passion for anything she can market, from products to services. She is keen on keeping up-to-date on the latest and greatest trends in the continually changing marketing field. She captivates target audiences with her sweet and sassy approach, and her understanding of optimizing marketing efforts accelerates revenue. Jami started her career in The Bronx, New York, and later moved to Utah, then Idaho, and now back to Utah. She is the founder and owner of The Moxie Agency, a full-service marketing agency, and Moxie Blankets. She is the co-owner of The Bickering Sisters restaurant.