December 13, 2017
Last year I traveled to England for vacation, visiting a half dozen historic sites and English gardens. Many of these destinations were run by the National Trust, a UK conservation charity, protecting historic places and green spaces. At the gift shop in one such National Trust location, I purchased a lovely scarf with dogs all over it.
Fast forward to earlier this year, and I attended the Global Pet Expo in Orlando, Florida. Of course, I wore my dog-themed scarf because, you know, dogs!
When I stopped at the Ulster Weavers booth and met Aisling Fox, the Sales Manager for the US, Canada & South America, she immediately recognized my scarf. Turns out this Northern Ireland-based company made it for the National Trust.
Not surprisingly Aisling and I had an instant bond. It is one of the reasons that Ulster Weavers was one of the first suppliers we brought into our store. I was quite familiar with the quality of their work and knew they carried products that would resonate with pet lovers. Why else would they be at Global Pet Expo, the largest pet products trade show?
It was my first time at Global Pet Expo, and it was the same for Ulster Weavers.
"We have been using animal designs for years," says Aisling. "They are some of our most popular designs with our U.S. customers. We felt the pet industry would love our products. Also, we felt no one else was targeting the kitchen and housewares products with animal designs as diverse as ours."
Not only did the dog scarf connect us and our mutual love of pet products, but also, Aisling is a dog lover.
"There was always a dog in my house while growing up, particularly springer spaniels," she says. These days her family's pet in Ireland (Aisling cannot have a dog in her New York City apartment) is Izzy, a Jack Russell Terrier (right). "She is the Queen of our household," says Aisling, "and is always happy to see me when I get back home."
Izzy could be the model for one of the Ulster Weavers products we carry--the Jack Russell Terrier Apron.
Jack Russell Terriers aren't the only breeds featured on Ulster Weavers designs. We also carry their apron with a dachshund on it as well as a kitchen towel with dozens of Scottish Terriers on it. We also carry a few items from Ulster Weavers featuring hound dogs.
As we get ready to fully launch our Kittieware line in 2018, you can bet we'll be adding Ulster Weaver products that feature cats. In fact, I think there may actually be more cat-theme kitchenware and housewares to choose from than dog themed.
When it comes to the designs themselves, there is a whole team dedicated to just that--designing high-quality housewares--based at the corporate office in Northern Ireland. The products themselves are incredibly authentic to their origin. Aisling tells me that some products are still produced in the company's very first factory in County Down in Northern Ireland.
I was fortunate enough to visit County Down (and County Antrim) when our family vacationed in Belfast, Northern Ireland this past summer. Ulster Weavers is based in Holywood, right outside Belfast. Our quick trip to Belfast did not allow me to go visit the Ulster Weavers HQ. If I had, here's what I would have learned:
The Ulster Weaving Company founded in 1880, produced high-quality linen for which Ireland and Ulster had become world famous. Since the 1960’s the Ulster Weaving company brought generations of textile expertise into the kitchen –initially specializing in Irish Linen Tea Towels and over the years expanding to include ranges of kitchen coordinates, bags and giftware.
For the last 800 years, British Monarchs have bestowed the royal warrant on companies providing goods and services to members of the royal family for more than five years. The royal warrant is a mark of excellence and is highly regarded both within the UK and Internationally. As evidence to [its] commitment to quality, Ulster Weavers has held the royal warrant as suppliers of kitchen textiles to Queen Elizabeth II since 1995.
In addition to supplying Buckingham Palace with kitchen textiles, Ulster Weavers holds the license for the UK's official Olympic Team and supplies goods to well-known organizations in the UK, including the Royal Horticultural Society and Harrod's. And, of course, Puppieware by Pawsome Doggie right here in the US of A.
These new breed offerings are based on customer feedback as well as new trends.
I've had a peek. Trust me--you're going to love the new breeds they are introducing. They match up very well with our best-selling breed cake pans and rugs. That's the only hint I'm going to give.
Overall, I think if you're looking for kitchen products and housewares with dogs and cats on them as a gift for a pet lover, these Ulster Weavers products would be a great choice.
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