You may wonder what former supermodel and current business mogul, Kathy Ireland, and the iconic Elizabeth Taylor have in common. Inspiration. Read on to find out how one honors the other in a new pet product collection.
Hers may be the world’s 28th most licensed brand and more successful than Martha Stewart’s, but in front of a roomful of femmeprenuers at Global Pet Expo recently, Kathy Ireland’s eyes flashed with sassy glee. She’s telling a story about overcoming adversity, something Ireland has done many times in her life. Seems that at age 11, she began her first job – a paper route – after writing the paper to say she was the girl for the job. But, everyone didn’t feel that way. Back then, the naysayers claimed Kathy was trespassing in a boy’s world, and it just wouldn’t work. She insisted she could do it as well as any boy, and she pedaled her heavy papers, rain or shine. She even rode up a big hill every day to deliver to this one very ornery man. He would yell at her, telling her she’d never make it, but the spirit she’d nurtured in herself as that young girl is very evident today in this grown woman’s eyes. “I held that route for 3 1/2 years,” Ireland relayed proudly. “And each year, I won the carrier award for my district. It taught me not to quit. Many years later, I’m still the girl with the paper route.”
And that probably says it best. An approachable, savvy woman who has learned not to let anyone’s opinion of her define who she is, Kathy Ireland has transcended what many thought was possible for a supermodel. And, she’s done it her way. Since launching her brand with a pair of socks in 1993, Ireland has designed over 15,000 products, available in 50 countries, in categories that all offer solutions – for families, especially busy moms; for business people and for people in love. kathy ireland Worldwide® (kiWW) has annual sales exceeding 2 billion, with Forbes calling her the “prototype for model-turned-mogul,” and British Vogue proclaiming her the world’s richest model. She’s managed this transformation so well, becoming exceptionally successful at marketing and selling to middle America, that licensers and other brands around the world are only too happy to find a way to partner.
Because there’s nothing the girl can’t do, Kathy’s latest foray is into the world of pets, with licensing partner and pet industry leader, Worldwise®. Called kathy ireland’s Loved Ones, she’s offering pet families a home decor-friendly, tasteful and high quality collection of beds, collars, leashes, accessories and toys. Entering the pet space was inspired by her 12 year old pup, Sparky. I previewed some of the Loved Ones‘ items at a brand launch press conference at Global, and had the opportunity to briefly interview Kathy and Worldwise CEO, Kevin Fick. I noticed that they offer several different styles of beds and asked why. “We want pets to be welcome in any room of the home,” Ireland explained. “Having worked for so many years in home goods, we wanted to bring those palettes, those types of designs into the pet space, and feel it’s going to draw everyone [in the family] together.” Ireland’s philosophy that “life is messy,” is something we can all relate to, and she has made it her mission to find or create products that are inclusive for all family members, furry ones included. Kevin Fick added about the beds, “Dogs and cats like to get under the covers. When u think about separation anxiety, let’s say, a lot of products are designed around using a personal article of clothing, so you’ll see someone take a shirt and put it in that enclosure (referring to the Pillow Hideout Bed style), and it’s perfect.”
Other styles of beds include the patented Cuddle Cube Pet Bed©, which enables our pups to sink cozily into the bed, without it spilling over and losing its structure; the Quilted Pet Bed with Lounge Mat features a quilted bed base with a reversible mat inside, which looked classic and chic. This style of bed can be used as is, or upgraded using a cool Mix & Match feature, whereby we can match the bed style with the sleeping style of our dogs. The Tailor Made Gusseted Pet Bed is a bit higher end, appointed with upholstery-like details (the word “gusseted gave that away, right?); and the Constant Comfort Bolstered Pet Bed gives comfort and support for both the body and the head, possibly working very well for seniors or for those who need a bit more support. I could see the attention to detail in these pieces. And I love that all the covers are removable for easy cleaning in the machine. The beds retail from between $40.00‑$180.00, so that’s not too bad.
The collection of leashes, collars and accessories have a classic, timeless look, and offer interesting details, like the Tag Silencer© to quiet the jangling of i.d. tags, as well as an easy attach leash ring which makes it simple to put a leash on an excited pet. The Tag Silencer is a great one for us, because that jangling sometimes drives me a little crazy. 🙂 The leashes also feature a shock absorber to help eliminate strain from a dog that pulls, a feature a few companies are doing now and one that I’m sure dog moms, and even dads, appreciate. These retail from $8.00‑$30.00, again, a reasonable price point.
I was especially intrigued by the collection within a collection called Gracie and Delilah®. Kathy shared that Elizabeth Taylor was a mentor to her and they were very close. A staunch animal lover and one who “had a way with animals,” relayed Ireland, Liz came to Kathy with a very special request when she was nearing the end of her life. Taylor asked Ireland if she would take her two beloved Maltese, Gracie and Delilah, and care for them when she passed. Kathy and her family not only took the two babies in, and have them to this day, but she honored her dear friend by naming this luxury collection after them. The Gracie and Delilah® collection features products for both dogs and cats with luxury fabrics, detailing and some sparkle and shine. Perfect for
Other collection categories include travel accessories and mealtime. In travel, it’s basic things you might want on a trip with your pooch, but each item solves a problem and each is done in a high quality, timeless way. A Reversible Travel Mat unrolls to a double sided, durable mat with quilted padding, providing a comfortable place to rest in the car or a hotel; a stylish Travel Tote to carry smaller pets, and waterproof Travel Bowls that fold flat, with a protective flap at the top to protect the it from dirt and debris. These retail from $20.00‑90.00.
For mealtime, they offer sturdy, nice-looking dishwasher safe ceramic bowls, with metallic gold detailing (I love that); furniture pieces like the Grow with Me Adjustable Feeder for dogs, that adjusts in height as your pet grows older and the Double Diner with Storage Drawer, which has handy storage drawer for your dog’s toys. Both furniture feeding options feature removable stainless steel bowls with silicone gaskets (to prevent drips) for easy cleaning. Retails range $5.00‑130.00.
I liked the kathy ireland Loved Ones pet collection and I think, like her other solutions-based products, this will be very popular. But even more than that, I really liked Kathy. Her warm, friendly and very open demeanor, coupled with her business savvy, makes her someone other femmepreneurs aspire to. As a wildly successful former supermodel, you also have to figure the girl knows a thing about style. What a powerful combination. And, Kathy Ireland’s paper route is far from over.
The kathy ireland Loved Ones pet collection will be available this summer. Stay tuned here for details on where.
Do you have a favorite kathy ireland Loved Ones bed? Share which one with me in the Comments below.