A collaboration of creativity
September 26, 2018
It takes many hands to make our one-of-a-kind products. On occasion, we collaborate with Upstate New York companies that contribute to our creativity. To celebrate Good Neighbor Day, which is September 28, we’re honored to introduce you to some of them.
Step inside Auburn Leathercrafters, and you’re greeted by Al and Anita Dungey and their dog, Baxter, a friendly 1½-year-old Saint Berdoodle. It’s an appropriate welcome from a small, family-owned company in Auburn, New York, that has been making dog collars for more than 60 years. Started in 1950 by Al’s grandfather, the company has always been a family affair, and over the years, Al’s seven brothers and sisters also have taken part. Today, the Dungeys’ children, Christopher and Laura, are the fourth generation to be involved. The company, which has 10 employees, also makes leashes and toys that are carried in more than 3,000 retail locations. MacKenzie-Childs has been working with Auburn Leathercrafters for nearly 20 years, and the company makes our Courtly Twist Pet Lead and Courtly Twist Pet Collars. It also has made various leather components on some of our now retired pieces that include desk accessories and napkin rings. Al says our relationship has given Auburn Leathercrafters the opportunity to push itself creatively and expand its approach to design, and he’s looking forward to collaborating on more pet products.
Our Merrifield Chandelier is a medley of sweetness and light, bringing together our one-of-kind hand-painted ceramics with mouth-blown art glass handcrafted by a company that’s just 20 miles from our Aurora studios. Located in Skaneateles, Snake-Oil Glassworks is owned and operated by Lorraine Austin, who holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the glass program at the School for American Crafts at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Working in a small studio with part-time assistants, Lorraine makes everything from lighting to vases to paperweights and does custom work as well. Lorraine collaborated for more than a year with Kathleen Connell, one of our designers, on the chandelier, creating it in two sizes. Both versions feature central blown-glass globes that are embellished with smaller pieces of textured glass and finished with beautiful glass flowers. In addition to helping create the design, Lorraine was on site to advise us on the best shipping methods for it. Lorraine says working on the Merrifield pieces allowed her to get better at repeating a design, which can be a challenge because glass blowing has an element of timing to it. That immediacy is what attracted her to the craft many years ago. “It’s like performance art,” she says. “Either you get it right or you don’t, and that’s what I love about it.”
Savor New York by MacKenzie-Childs
A range of products from neighboring companies are under one roof at Savor New York by MacKenzie-Childs, our store at del Lago Resort & Casino, located just off Exit 41 of the New York State Thruway in Waterloo, New York. The store, which opened in February 2017, is a showcase for our one-of-kind creations with dishware, linens, furniture, and of course lots of Courtly Check on display. To highlight its name—Savor New York—there’s also a spotlight on the region with more than 50 products from nine different Upstate New York producers for sale. Products range from Finger Lakes wines to scented soaps to spaghetti sauces. In fact, you could probably whip up breakfast right there, because you’ll also find pancake and muffin mixes, maple syrup, and coffee. Lisa Rotko, the store manager, says customers stop in from nearby communities and from as far away as Australia. Some are familiar with our brand and others are discovering it, which gives her the chance to tell not only our story, but also talk about the beauty and attractions of Upstate New York, something that she loves to do. Says Lisa, “It’s all about making an introduction and an impression.”