Christine: I’ve enjoyed two careers since my college days in San Diego; this endeavor marks my third. After college, I met and married my husband, Brett, and went to work on the family ranch training Equestrians young and old. I was fortunate to work with special-needs children; my most fulfilling work to date. My second career was in business administration, both in the traditional office environment and as an Entrepreneur.
“Why Mah Jongg Racks?” you might ask.
My husband and I were given Mah Jongg lessons as a gift by my Aunt Margaret and we fell in love the game right away. As a new player, I would feel anxious when it came my time to push out because more often than not I would topple my wall – tiles skittering this way and that, the combination of understanding, amusement and sometimes pity on veteran players’ faces.
My very first Mah Jongg set had to have pushers. The set I chose came with acrylic racks and pushers that, while functional, just didn’t fit together very well. As much as I enjoyed the ease of moving the wall to facilitate seamless and quick play, I did not like the way the tiles looked. The wall was out of symmetry to the rack and I found myself quietly annoyed that the wall wasn’t square. My second and still favorite set is vintage butterscotch Bakelite and while the acrylic pushers work on the Bakelite racks, the look and feel is just wrong. I want my entire playing experience to be joyous, beautiful and worry free.
My dilemma; I could not find racks to compliment the beauty of the tiles and have the functional details to seamlessly push out the wall. My solution: Design my own racks, the Limited Edition. The naysayers told me, “Oh no Christine, you can’t use pushers. They are unattractive, unnecessary, and just too much trouble.” I wasn’t convinced that was the case. I’m passionate about the design, ease of use and functionality of my racks and pushers.
While the Limited Edition racks convinced the naysayers that pushers could be both beautiful and functional, the design is admittedly heavy; good for home use (the card, when snagged on an errant sleeve, will not generally disturb the offending player’s tiles) but not so good for schlepping to the Mah Jongg twice a week.
From the Limited Edition sprang the Winnings Edition, a truly remarkable evolution of racks for American Mah Jongg. We don’t play with Chinese money, why do we need decorative coins that are not always beautiful? We play and pay with American coins, now there is a stunning way to see your winnings pile up. Significantly lighter in weight, the Winnings Edition is a home run.
So that’s how Christine Whitman Designs came to be; I needed a specialized rack. I made a specialized rack. I learned that you need a specialized rack too. An old story that never really gets old.
Brett: I’m just the manufacturing guy, always have been. I started out polishing parts for motion picture cameras in a machine shop which lead, inexplicably, to a career in electronics manufacturing. While I enjoyed areas of success as a manager, my passion lay in the hands-on creation of stuff; doesn’t matter what kind, just stuff.
So, off with the white collar, on with the blue. When I got my own machine shop up and running, Christine asked, “So what can you make?”
“Anything you want,” and our slogan was born.
The first challenge she threw down was the roller ball for the pusher. Quite surprised was she when I produced a working model in a matter of hours. Fine tuning and integrating took a little longer (weeks) but at the end of the day she ended up with racks she is quite proud of. It will be my pleasure to make racks that you too will be proud of.
Of course, if you already have a set of Christine’s racks, I’d be happy to make, you guessed it, “anything you want.” If, like Christine, you have a want or need that just cannot be satisfied commercially, we welcome any challenge; let us build your Dream Set.