Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams make a little bit of money selling furniture, but what makes them really rich is being able to give back to the community. At the 25th Anniversary celebration in Buckhead, Atlanta, surrounded by beautiful people and well-crafted furnishings, Gold began to cry as he described the reaction he got from a 13-year old boy, who read his book CRISIS:40 Stories Revealing the Personal, Social, and Religious Pain and Trauma of Growing Up Gay In America.
“He came up to me and said 'After reading your book I decided I am coming to stop cutting myself. I am going to live.'” Gold recalled to the attendees of the private party. “No one should be abused or discriminated against because they are gay. This is a problem in the United States.”
When the duo started the furniture company 25 years ago, advocating for the gay community wasn't part of the plan. As time went and Gold became more passionate about the issue Williams supported the initiative.
“Mitchell started Faith in America, a nonprofit, to help overcome religious bigotry. It is something that is a problem. Even the gay organizations are too scared to take on the church,” Williams says. “When we started the company it was just about respecting the employees. We looked at companies like Ben & Jerry and wanted to model ourselves after them. It was just a dream, but we held on to it.”
Mitchell Gold +Bob Williams is based in Taylorsville, NC. All the furniture is made in house and designed by Williams and his team. Every detail is approved by the couple. The pieces are conceptualized through sketches, created and then shipped out to their 25 stores including locations, in Washington, D.C, Toronto, Nashville, and Chicago. Gold has much to proud of, but he spoke mostly of the onsite daycare facility and healthcare plan he offers to his almost 700 employees.
“We have a daycare with 77 kids from six weeks to five years old,” Gold says. “These kids learn to read and write and then go off to kindergarten. They really have an advantage. We know that when employees are happy and healthy they create great furniture and show up on time consistently.”
Philanthropy is an integral part of the Mitchell +Gold brand. To honor 25 years in the furniture industry Gold encouraged all stores to raise money for a charitable organization. The Atlanta location partnered with Project Live Proud, an organization created to provide furniture for families displaced as a result of fleeing domestic abuse. Founder of Project Live Proud Nyota Brooks received $5,000 to go towards non-profit and they work they do for families.
“We showcase the power of design by making over empty spaces into warm and welcoming spaces,” Brooks says. “The $5,000 will help with getting furniture for a family I've had on hold since August. It’s about trying to create really warm great spaces and they deserve it, they have been through a lot. The children have been through a lot.”
Hearing about the hardships of the families in need reminds Gold to be grateful that he is in a position to give back. Mitchell and Gold were in a romantic relationship for 14 years and on one New Year’s Day the decided to go their separate ways. The couple knew they wanted to keep the friendship and business, but Williams says the personal relationship just wasn't right. Now, they run their business with compassion for one another and the people who come into their lives. Gold says despite everything he is aware of how lucky he is to have someone so special in his life.
“I am so blessed to have found a partner who wanted to do the same thing I wanted to do,” Gold says. “That is to make people comfortable in life.”