Mackenzie Couture Accessories
Dog collars, leashes, ladies reversible/interchangeable belts and, unique hand- crafted pewter belt buckles – many of Celtic design – created by selected artists who share a passion for distinction and quality. Recently we spoke with Cliff Tishler of Mackenzie Couture Accessories about his Lynnfield, Massachusetts-based business.
On his roots
My grandparents were originally from Russia and Poland. I was born in the USA. Jean’s grandparents were from Italy. Not exactly Scottish, Irish or Welsh but we all share that solid connection to our respective heritages. Let’s not forget that half the people who signed the Declaration of Independence for the United States were of Scottish descent, as were eleven Presidents.
On his business
We were looking for a business to call our own and saw an opportunity to acquire Mackenzie Couture Accessories. We immediately loved the product. Beautiful belts, collars and leashes made from vintage and designer ribbons, utilizing the highest quality brass and nickel plated hardware and, all made by hand in the USA. After looking at other opportunities, we kept coming back to Mackenzie. We couldn’t get over the notion that this business was started in Heather’s (Originator) home as a way to keep busy and, very quickly, turned into her passion. Her first products were ladies’ belts designed for the equestrian rider. The belts sold like “hot cakes,” as we say, but the riders were asking if these beautiful ribbons could also be made into collar. Seems most equestrians also have a love of canines. Today, Mackenzie Couture makes a full line of dog collars and leashes, reversible/interchangeable belts, lanyards and even suspenders or as the Brits might say; braces. Each product is hand-made, with uncompromising quality and originality. These collars and belts put a smile on the faces of our customers. It’s really amazing, how purchasing one of our leashes or collars for their “best friend” just makes them feel good and, we feel great providing them. We truly believe they are getting the best collar, leash or belt available anywhere; after all, “It’s a Mackenzie!” Some dog owners use Mackenzie collars as a reward for their canine behaving well or doing good at a recent competition. Some will gift wrap the product and let their dog remove the wrapping. Just look at some of the testimonials on our website. Our customers are fantastic. It’s a terrific product and we sell to the best customer base who purchase for their very best friends.
On the challenges
The challenges we face are the very issues that make us successful; providing quality all the time, every time. That means the hardware, ribbons, thread, buckles, webbing, other materials and, equally important, the workmanship, must be consistently excellent all the time. Remember, each collar, leash belt, lanyard, suspenders, etc., are hand crafted, one at a time. This requires our attention to the details on each and every piece. Another challenge is in knowing what segment of the business to invest in, which lines require expansion. For example, we are always expanding our Celtic designs and Scottish Tartans. This is an area we will continue to invest in and, we recognize that a true tartan is not simply a plaid ribbon.
On the rewards
The best reward is when customers take the time to call or write, just to say how much they love their Mackenzie. Once in a while, we’ll tell a customer that we are out of a particular ribbon they chose and, it will be three weeks before we have it. For many businesses, that would result in a lost opportunity. Our customers, more often than not, will respond, “That’s O.K. Mackenzie’s are worth waiting for, no problem.” What could be better than that?
We want to be sure it’s the best fit. Some breeds are perfect for a martingale, others are not. If you’re not a dog or horse owner, you might not understand what we mean by that. These people ache for their pets and it doesn’t matter if they show them competitively or, they are just pets, they are part of the family. Customers for our ladies belts are looking for the opportunity to wear color with prestige, distinction and quality. Our buckles are inspired by works of art, both ancient and modern and our inspiration comes from such common places as our own environment or from the Great Masters. Our Pride of Scotland ribbon is woven under the Scottish Tartan authority and we are proud to offer this Tartan. Our Book of Kells ribbon was created by monks in Ireland between the 8th and 9th century. One of our most successful ribbons, Shamrock Emerald, took more than a year to perfect as the designer searched for just the right color green metallic yarns to weave into the shamrocks.
On being unique in the marketplace
Several factors distinguish us from our competition. Our designs are very carefully selected for their color, originality and uncompromising quality. We do not create or copy novelty ribbons and we are not looking to have our brand in every retail establishment on Main Street. Our most effective advertisers are our customers. Many are steadfast Mackenzie loyalists who become lifetime customers and in return, everything we do is with these people in mind. Their feedback is invaluable.
On the future
Our plans for the future are evolving all the time. For sure, we will continue to strive for those “life-time” customers, by continuously making their Mackenzie experience as comfortable and content as possible.