Alice Nichols | Artisan Profile
In 1984, Alice Nichols started Up Country Inc. with the radical notion that dog collars should be stylish and colorful. At the time, pet accessories were mostly practical affairs, with collars in solid shades of red, blue, brown, and the like. After all, why spend money on something that would end up getting all muddy? Alice’s idea seemed like such a long shot that she chose a generic, pet-free name for her company, just in case it didn’t work out.
For her initial run, Alice came up with six fun (and fully machine-washable) collars featuring preppy motifs–sailboats, ducks, pheasants–and had them crafted by a local belt maker. Pet owners responded well, and soon enough she started her own workshop. Thirty years later, she’s running a bustling factory in East Providence, Rhode Island, that employs 28 people, some of whom have been with the company for more than 20 years. Together they turn out a full line of pet products, including collars (from $15 for dogs, $9 for cats), leads, harnesses, beds, and home decor.
Up Country gives back to the community it serves. In addition to ongoing donations of products to animal shelters nationwide, Up Country donates a collar and lead to every dog adopted from the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. It posts adoptees’ pictures on its social-media feeds to help promote pet adoption and uses adopted animals as models to further promote the cause. “We’re a family,” Nichols says, “and it’s our job to make people happy. Whether it’s by making a beautiful collar, sending a donation to their favorite charity, or spreading cheer about adopted pets, it’s a goal we love.”
Up Country Inc., East Providence, RI. 800-541-5909; upcountryinc.com