She’s A Woman on Fire! Meet Kendell DeBoom

Welcome back to our ongoing series to introduce you to each other.  She’s a Women on Fire member and we want you to know!  Please say hello to…


Kendell DeBoom

Lake Bluff, Illinois

Women on Fire member: #00188

Member since: July 22, 2013

Please tell us about YOU, your family and your work. What are you “on fire” about? 

In September, my husband, Alan, and I celebrated 30 years of marriage. I have been a DeBoom longer than I was a Wostoupal! We have three children, Anders, Siv and Willa.

I grew up in Nebraska. My mother was an active stay-at-home mom and my father a veterinarian. My hometown of Wisner, in the northeastern part of the state, is known as the livestock center of the Midwest. I credit my small-town, rural upbringing with helping me to develop a strong work ethic and sense of citizenship.

Activities revolved around school and community. Everyone participated in sports, played in the band, sang in the choir, went to church, and helped out their neighbors. This shaped me and gave me confidence.

I already had an interest in cooking and entertaining when I entered college in 1979, but culinary schools weren’t on my radar and home economics didn’t seem right. So I instead earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, which helped me to land my first job, working in Chicago in the advertising industry. Eventually, I did end up going to culinary school — Kendall College, in Chicago — and then worked as a chef, prior to the adoption of my first child. Great experiences, all.

As my children got older, I found myself contemplating a business idea combining several of my work experiences with my talents and interests. The Festive Frog was born! My wonderful friend Jane and I started a rental company that specializes in vintage, upmarket table- and glassware rentals for the entertaining industry.

We named our inventory collections after iconic, historically significant women: We have the “Dorothea” (Lange) collection and the “Eleanor” (Roosevelt) collection of Depression glass, among others. The collections are beautiful, and the ladies we named them after are fascinating.

It’s been a fantastic challenge for Jane and me to get this business up and running. Unlike other rental wares, this is a niche market, so we’ve developed our own protocols for handling and transporting items, determining what people want and are willing to spend, and making decisions about what inventory to buy. And because we are still fairly new, we do almost all of the manual labor ourselves, which means lots of heavy lifting and dish washing!

At this point, our inventory is primarily vintage; however, that is about to change. So stay tuned! We’ve created a website, our second (, and are learning the intricacies of social media marketing — Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. If you’re interested, I’d love to have you follow us on our Facebook page here. We’d greatly appreciate the support!

I am proud of all of the work we’ve done to get this business launched. And I love that my husband is supportive and that my children have witnessed what it means to have an idea and see a dream become a reality.

How did you originally connect to Women on Fire?  

My aunt, Virginia Barney, is a co-author of Women On Fire, Volume 1. Ginny is a great example of a quality I admire: quiet strength.

What’s your favorite component of the Women on Fire membership?

I am so happy to be part of this magical group of talented women. The camaraderie between so many women of such varied backgrounds and experiences — all supporting, comforting, and celebrating one another without jealousy — is nothing short of amazing. And hearing the advice and the experiences of the others is so humbling.

What is the last book you read that you would recommend to other Women on Fire?

If you haven’t read My Antonia by Willa Cather, pick it up! Cather is known for her depictions of pioneer life, drawing on her childhood in Nebraska. She was also known for being intelligent, outspoken, talented and even mannish in her opinions and dress. I would have loved her! She brought a national consciousness to the beauty and vastness of the plains. My great-grandmother was named Willa and so is my daughter!

Name another Woman on Fire who has inspired you and tell why.

Linda Neff! This is like answering “The Beatles” when asked to name a famous band or “The Bible” for a well-known book! What I admire about this woman — and many others like her in the Women on Fire community — is her spirit of great generosity, kindness and integrity.

If you had the opportunity to teach a child a strategy that would help to guide her life, what would that be?

I have a couple:

Know where you are in the world, without relying on your (sometimes incorrect) phone! Which way is north? East? Where is the lake? How do you get home? It’s OK, in fact, it’s smart, to look at a map!

I once saw a quote from Steve Jobs that is just so true, and I would pass on the advice to young people today: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people who are really no smarter than you. Embrace your life and world. Change it. Make your mark upon it.

What are the top three songs on your iPod right now?

Must I stop with three?

What are the biggest challenges you’ve ever faced and how did you overcome them?

One of my earliest challenges was becoming a mother. For almost 10 years, my husband and I tried to conceive, but to no avail. We then made the decision to adopt, but finding an agency and going through all of the necessary protocol was a job in itself.

When we received the good news that our son Anders was born, we were worried because he came six weeks before his due date. Anders faced months of neonatal complications, including respiratory distress and a congenital heart defect. As he grew, we endured new challenges, as diagnoses of sensory integration disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and Tourette Syndrome were all made.

The TS was perhaps the scariest time, and I made it my job to learn everything I could about this disorder. As good as our school system was, I still felt like we knew more about what a child with these issues needed than the school did. It was often an agonizing journey of education and discovery, as we constantly searched for the right tools for Anders to be successful.

We fought for accommodations in his individual education program, and ultimately searched for special schools that could really teach an out-of-the-box learner. Our family’s experience with this has helped us all to be more aware of these kinds of problems and more empathetic toward others. Anders is 21 years old now, and doing well, pursuing a criminal justice degree at our local community college.

He still faces many challenges as he finds his way in the world, but his resiliency has served him well.

What might we be surprised to learn about you?

  • I have some sort of music playing almost all the time. I love music — all kinds — but especially Americana. If you need suggestions for what to listen to, I would love to talk to you about it!
  • I have a bit of a boot fetish.
  • I drive a scooter, even all through winter!

More about Kendell DeBoom…

Kendell currently resides in Lake Bluff, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. She was previously an account supervisor for Bentley, Barnes & Lynn Advertising, followed by attending culinary school, which led to a position as chef at Le Titi De Paris, until three children nominated her for Household CEO.

In addition to running The Festive Frog with her friend Jane, Kendell has a passion for cooking, entertaining and collecting cool vintage stuff. She is also a big music buff, loves to go to concerts and is always looking for up-and-coming artists.

Kendell is looking forward to entertaining everyone and showing off the wonderful city of Chicago during the upcoming Women on Fire Retreat.

She’s a Woman on Fire! feature is compiled by senior writer Becky Adams.

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