I recently had the honor of interviewing Kathy Ireland of kathy ireland Worldwide® and Kevin Fick of Worldwise about the collaboration between their two companies to produce a pet product line that incorporates over 300 products. The line is an extensive, detail-oriented, practically minded one created to fit within a range of budgets.
This launch was a very personal undertaking for Ireland as she has what I would call a holistic view of our place on the planet as pet guardians and “grew up with pets” her whole life. She said, “I have so much respect for life particularly the most vulnerable…we need to bring to market products that are safe. And, we want them to have value, be fashion-forward, to have quality.” As a side note, Ireland’s twelve-and-half-year-old three-legged dog, Sparky, which suffered from cancer is featured on much of the photography for the line. She jokes about her “poor husband” who has turned into a pet person during their marriage and how they now have so many pets that their home could be considered a zoo.
The kathy ireland Loved Ones™ collection is one that focuses on solutions in innovative ways. As Ireland said during the press conference, “Life is messy.” As a mother, wife, business mogul, and pet guardian, she completely understands this and means it. Also launched was the Gracie and Delilah® collection that’s more of a pampered glam line inspired by the two Maltese dogs of the same name that are “precious, wonderfully spoiled. They have exquisite taste.” Ireland and her family became the guardians of these two fashionistas when Elizabeth Taylor passed, as she and Elizabeth were great friends for many years.
Now, I was at the entire press conference and waited a little while to get to do my video interview, which gave me the opportunity to really observe Ireland in action. And, even as a person that is not easily impressed, I most certainly was. It was so refreshing to find that there is a truly authentic, down-to-earth person behind the more than $2 billion company. (Not to mention that she is also one of the most influential people in fashion because of her company and supermodel background).
When you meet Ireland, you find that she’s committed to working with companies that match the vision she has for unique, high quality, responsible home décor. She said, this is “an area that is so close to my heart.” It was clear that she wasn’t going to jump into the pet market just for the sake of extending the kiWW product lines, but took cautious steps to find Worldwise. She also said that, “There are a lot of people that could manufacture our designs, but it had to be done right. We’ve got to work very hard to earn the trust of our customer. We’ve got to work even harder to maintain it. We can never sit back on yesterday’s success.”
With that, I asked Kevin and Kathy what their favorite part of the design process was.
Fisk had a fun response that I loved. He said that he really looks forward to getting the samples when they come in. It was clear it was a ‘kid in the candy store’ kind of anticipation. He said part of the fun in it is that they don’t know what sample is going to come or even when. So, they don’t know what is going to be in the box when they open it. I could imagine a team of people surrounding the box or greeting the delivery person with pure excitement.
Ireland responded that she LOVES design. It’s so much fun for her. The kiWW team continually travels the globe. They’re sketching. They’re photographing. They’re visiting museums. She mentioned that Elizabeth Taylor would go through books and look at all different details. It was apparent that Ireland had an inspirational soul mate in her friendship with her. Ireland also said that she just gets sheer joy and vision by simply going out into nature. You’ll find earthy colors and shapes incorporated from these times of respite in many of her designs. It became clear that she was a whole package in that she’s smart, savvy, beautiful, and connected on the inside and out.
I’m going to find it very interesting to watch this marriage of sorts between kathy ireland Worldwide and Worldwise. It’s exciting to see how it will help the pet industry and pet fashion grow in popularity and top-of-mind awareness.