One father's desires to make his little girl happy has developed into a budding company that aims to help other parents make their children's dreams come true.
Born in Fred Golightly's garage, Olivia and Will's is a California-based manufacturer of fine children's furniture. Its specialty is themed bedroom collections -- specifically those designed for young princesses and princes.
Golightly introduced his latest collection, Olivia's Mermaid, during the recent home-furnishings trade show hosted by the World Market Center. Central to the collection is the seashell bed, which is hewn and handcarved out of hardwood to resemble a giant oyster shell, complete with a pearl.
Golightly said the collection was inspired by fairy tale "The Little Mermaid."
"My favorite Disney character is Ariel," he said.
The bed is handpainted to mimic the colors of a real seashell; the outside is done in satin-finish portrait white while the inside has touches of pink and green in a high-gloss finish.
"Like all our products, the new bed is constructed of hardwood for damage resistance and longevity, and can be expected to last to thrill several generations of mermaids."
Named after Golightly's two young children, Olivia, 5, and Will, 3, the company started after neighbors saw a castle bed Golightly had made for his daughter.
He said they had just returned from a trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, where his daughter was enchanted by Sleeping Beauty's castle. She had also seen the movie "Shrek," and told her father she wanted a castle bed.
Using pictures from their vacation, the movie and the Excalibur hotel-casino as his inspiration, Golightly retreated to his garage workshop at night and on weekends to create a castle bed for his daughter.
"When I was in high school, I loved wood working. My favorite tool was the lathe," Golightly said.
"My wife, who had never seen my wood work, was skeptical. I would show her parts and she was still skeptical."
Once the bed was completed, she was so proud of his work she began e-mailing photos to all of her friends, including one who works at a small store near their home. She, in turn, showed it to a manufacturer, who said he had never seen anything like it. Coupled with the enthusiastic comments from neighbors who stopped by the Golightlys' garage periodically to check on the bed's progress, the former advertising and public relations specialist decided to go into business for himself.
Typical of Golightly's devotion to his children, each bed features a built-in night-light, as well as other special features sure to delight youngsters such as the sparkling tiara in the center of the Princess bed's headboard that can be removed and worn.
In the castle beds, the night-light is in the tower posts, while the seashell bed's pearl doubles as a night-light.
The beds are available in twin or full sizes, with an optional trundle or storage drawers. The suggested retail price for either the boy's or girl's castle bed is $1,795. Price of the Mermaid bed has not yet been determined.
Case goods in the Olivia's Princess collection all feature corner posts carved to look like towers made of bricks. They are accented with metallic gold and handpainted vines with roses in pink or lavender.
Available pieces include a chest of drawers, vanity with beveled-glass mirror, nightstand, hope chest and footstool.
William's King Arthur's collection, done in shades of blue and red, also is highlighted by corner posts carved to look like they are made of bricks. Posts at the foot of the bed feature hidden storage areas that are ideal for toy soldiers and knights.
The headboard is accented by a shield, which can be replaced with an authentic family crest.
Each piece in Olivia and Will's catalog is handpainted by artists in Vietnam, where the case goods are manufactured, so no two are exactly the same, Golightly said. This also allows for pieces to be customized.
Golightly is putting finishing touches on another collection for boys; it will have a pirate theme and the bed will resemble a ship.
And though he is no longer handcarving and painting the furniture, Golightly said he inspects every piece before it is shipped to make sure it meets his approval.
Olivia and Will's furniture can be purchased at several retailers and Web stores. For locations or more information, visit www.oliviaandwill.com.