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Maryland business lands on Oprah’s favorite things

Husband, wife co-owners have seen spike in sale of personalized cutting boards

KIM STRASSNER Photo credit Jim Vecchione

KIM STRASSNER (Photo / Jim Vecchione)

In 2011, Kim Strassner made cutting boards with words carved into the wood for Christmas gifts for family and friends.

This year, her product was named to Oprah’s Favorite Things. Strassner, who co-owns Words with Boards with her husband, Mike Pararas, is one of two Maryland-based business owners to make the list.

The other was Pappas’ Crab Cakes.

“It’s putting us on the map,” Strassner said of making Oprah’s iconic list. “It’s huge.”

Words with Boards hand carves words into wood cutting boards. Crafted from sustainably forested American hardwoods and designed to be long-lasting showpieces, the boards are made and hand-finished in the company’s recently opened 4,000-square-foot Hampden studio.

Montgomery County natives with a product development and design background, Strassner and Pararas fabricated their first cutting boards in 2011 from leftover butcher block. For added interest, they personalized them by cutting names out of the wood.

The boards — each with hand-cut letters and hand-sanded and oiled with food-grade mineral oil — soon were selling at retail markets and gift shows. Words with Boards became an official company in 2013 and has sold over 5,000 boards to date.

Strassner said the boards also were endorsed by Martha Stewart, who made Words with Boards an American Made finalist earlier this year.

Strassner said the company has more than doubled business from last year. Landing on Oprah’s list is expected to keep the orders coming in, she said.

Already, she said, there has been a “major uptick” in orders since Oprah’s magazine went on sale this week.