Industry View: Doris Barsauskas, Proprietor, MacKimmie Co.
Doris Barsauskas is the owner of MacKimmie Co. - an independent retail store with a physical and online presence based in Lenox, Massachusetts.
MacKimmie Co. specialise in textiles for the home and person and in merchandise that is sourced in Europe. Their product range includes blankets, throws, pillows, wraps, scarves, accessories, sweaters, casual apparel and gifts.
MacKimmie Co. enjoys excellent relations with numerous Irish brands specialising in woven and knitted items and heritage yarns. Here we speak to Barsasuskas about the importance of Showcase on the buying calender and why she is returning in person to Dublin for this year's show.
Some of our best performing brands are made in Ireland and discovered at Showcase. Photo: Molloy & Sons.
How important is Showcase to your business?
Showcase is an especially important trade show for us. Four of the Irish brands that we sourced at Showcase are among our top ten overall performing brands for 2021. Many others rank in the top twenty for sales. It’s a good opportunity to source quality merchandise that has a specific focus, the brands are the right fit for our shop. It’s convenient to have ‘Home & Gift’ and ‘Fashion & Accessories’ at the same show.
How do you think it compares to other trade fairs that you attend in the US and Europe or beyond?
Showcase is a small, personal trade show, featuring well curated Irish design. We are more apt to meet the owners of businesses as well as their design teams in this more intimate setting. It makes the buying process much more interesting and educational. We have established deeper connections, resulting in our commitment to grow and nurture those business in our shop.
Showcase is a small, personal trade show, featuring well curated Irish design
Have you been attending trade events in person over the past two years?
We have attended only one trade show in New York in person over the past two years. More recently we have been seeing collections in private showrooms. The bulk of our buying over the past two years was done on Zoom.
Will you be attending this year’s Showcase in person?
Yes! We have been vaccinated, received our boosters and we feel very comfortable coming to Ireland and attending the show. The Irish Government and it’s citizens have been cautious and that is reassuring.
Lou Brennan is just one of the Irish brands stocked by Mac Kimmie Co.
How important is it for you to meet suppliers face-to-face?
As mentioned, some of our best performing brands are made in Ireland and discovered at the show. Nothing replaces meeting face-to-face and the enthusiasm you feel when you are talking directly to company owners, designers and key personnel. Many of our relationships are well established and others are just starting. It is always exciting to see what is new and discuss what growth potential is possible. Trade shows are about business, newness, possibilities, creativity and education.
What kind of products are you looking for when you attend such events?
We are looking for textiles for the home and person. We specialise in European-made merchandise. Our product range includes blankets, throws, pillows, wraps, scarves, accessories, sweaters, casual apparel and gifts.
Dublin is a welcoming city steeped in history and charm says Barsauskas. Photo: Jeremy Matteo. Unsplash.
What do you like about the Showcase event in Dublin?
We have enjoyed the opportunity to come to Dublin and meet the makers on their turf at a small, intimate trade show. The show organisers have been so helpful, making introductions, suggesting brands as well as offering overall business advice - essential to setting up relationships and importing to the USA. It is a welcoming show, we get to focus on one sector of our business and that has proved valuable. We have also had the opportunity to meet other business owners and buyers from the USA. Dublin is a welcoming city steeped in history and charm.
Do you think that Irish design and craft is well respected internationally?
Yes I do! We continually hear stories from our clients about purchasing Irish merchandise on a trip to Ireland many years ago and still enjoying those purchases. Some ‘Irish Design’ is recognisable and usually admired for its heritage aesthetics and quality. Our business is built on return traffic, the exceptional quality and aesthetics of the Irish-made merchandise we carry has helped us grow our business far beyond our expectations. My customer base comes from NY, Boston and Connecticut. It is a well-travelled group with high expectations.
Everything related to the home, comfort and wellness has grown says Barsauskas. Photo: Roberto Nickson. Unsplash.
What trends do you see in retail in terms of product for this year?
We believe that the ‘business of home’ trend that has been exploding the past two years in the USA will continue. Everything related to the home, comfort and wellness industries has grown. We have seen sales increase in home accessories, apparel suitable for outdoor activities and casual dressing as well as wellness and self care products. People are spending more time at home - both working and living. It’s never been more important that their homes are comfortable, functional and inviting.
Everything related to the home, comfort and wellness industries has grown
How have consumer habits changed due to the pandemic?
Customer habits have changed and continue to evolve. People shop for shorter periods of time and with intention. More people are asking us to Facetime or buy online. We service a lot of customers on the phone and send images by phone. It’s a hybrid - everything is possible. We’ve had an increase in shipping and offer home delivery and private appointments.
How important do you believe the role of DCCI and Enterprise Ireland are in promoting Irish design and craft abroad?
Promoting and marketing Irish brands is helpful. It reinforces the stories and information we are sharing. Overall, it helps craft a professional narrative that highlights the ‘Made in Ireland’ ethos and message. It adds prestige and value to Irish design. I think it is especially important to promote emerging designers not easily associated with Ireland.
Featured image: Lou Brennan