Southwest Wake News

Moon & Lola in Apex transforms into Santa’s workshop after ornaments make Oprah’s Favorite Things

Madeline Thompson, left, and Cameron Brown string ribbons through the cut and engraved pet ornaments so that they can be placed on someone’s Christmas tree.
Madeline Thompson, left, and Cameron Brown string ribbons through the cut and engraved pet ornaments so that they can be placed on someone’s Christmas tree. ktrogdon@newsobserver.com

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is well underway at Moon & Lola, an Apex-based company, as employees craft ornaments, jewelry and other Christmas surprises to make many holiday dreams come true.

As a laser etches the name of a beloved pet into silver-mirrored acrylic in the shape of man’s best friend, a company employee strings a ribbon through another ornament that will soon hang from someone’s tree this holiday season.

Dozens of Moon & Lola employees will make nearly 20,000 of these customizable pet ornaments before Christmas after the personalized gold- or silver-mirrored acrylic ornaments were featured on Oprah Winfrey’s coveted Favorite Things list this year.

“We are all working the hardest we do all year long,” said Kelly Shatat, the company’s founder, designer and CEO. “It does feel very elf-like in here. A lot like Santa’s workshop.”

Winfrey’s list, which was released in early November and appeared in the December edition of O, The Oprah Magazine, has 87 gift ideas for everyone, from chocolate lovers to fitness enthusiasts. It’s the second time Moon & Lola’s accessories have landed on the list. Last year, Winfrey featured the company’s monogrammed cufflinks.

Because of the anticipated spike in orders after the announcement, Shatat hired about 20 to 25 additional people to help with production and shipping.

“Since then, it’s been full speed ahead,” she said.

Moon & Lola offers more than 39 pre-selected dog breed options, in addition to cats, birds and other pets, such as parakeets and hedgehogs. While it is too late to order a customized ornament in time for Christmas, shoppers can still visit one of the company’s retail locations in Apex, Raleigh, Charleston or Durham to purchase one of the pre-selected options. A pet’s name can still be placed on the ornament, but it is too late to have it engraved.

Fun around the workshop

Shortly after the Favorite Things list was released in November, something strange started happening at Moon & Lola’s production area, which is in downtown Apex, not far from their retail spot.

One day when Kate Payne, the company’s public relations manager, came to work, she logged on to her computer but couldn’t get her mouse to work. It was then that she realized there was a picture of Winfrey taped to the bottom of it.

After that, pictures of Winfrey started popping up everywhere.

“You would come out of the bathroom and there was Oprah,” Shatat said,

Staff members later found out that it was one of the employees who was putting up pictures of Winfrey to give everyone a good laugh.

Shatat also was determined to keep spirits high during the busy season by holding pajamas days, drawings for prizes, Secret Santa, gift card giveways and more.

“We are trying to keep the energy as light and happy as possible,” she said.

But if that wasn’t enough, employees could always take a peek at a pink Christmas tree in the production area that features “rejected” pet ornaments that don’t really look like pets. Shatat said when making customized ornaments, shoppers send in a picture of their pet and employees use the silhouette of the animal to make the ornament.

But if the photo is taken from a certain angle or if a dog or cat is facing the camera rather than in profile, it can come out looking like something else.

“They are very funny,” Shatat said, adding that customers submit new photos in these circumstances.

Expanding the business

After the monogrammed cufflinks were featured on Winfrey’s list last year, Shatat said the spike in sales allowed her to hire more people and implement benefits, like health insurance and 401(k)s.

Because of this year’s sales, Shatat said she could possibly open another location next year. She said she is looking at Charlotte or Savannah, Ga., or both.

While Moon & Lola had been featured in a magazine before, being on Winfrey’s list two years in a row brought business to a whole new level.

“It’s a level that makes you have great butterflies, and you are scared, too, all in the same breath,” Shatat said. “But you do whatever you have to do to get those orders out.”

Kathryn Trogdon: 919-460-2608: @KTrogdon

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