The best-selling author Elizabeth Berg once wrote, “Sometimes serendipity is just intention unmasked.” Annie knows a little something about this. A decade ago, she was reviewing samples of Pine Cone Hill placemats she’d designed to coordinate with the pottery she sold through Potluck Studios. Needing more space to work, she arranged the placemats on floor, and creative lightning struck. “These could make good rugs,” she remarked to her canine companions, not realizing that she’d just hit on a major design success story.
After choosing a handful of woven cotton placemats to adapt into rugs, Annie packed up her new wares and trekked to the New York Gift Show. “People were crazy about them,” she remembers, still shaking her head in wonder. Though she had previously tried to develop a few rugs through Pine Cone Hill, the show marked the first time they had been separated out from the bedding collection. “It was hard for customers to take in more than one element, and having them stand on their own was a big turning point,” Annie explains. Sunflower Ticking, one of the original designs, made an immediate impact, becoming an off-the-charts best-seller. It still retains that title, even today.
With the rugs a sales smash, Annie set up a separate company. She decided to name it after her dogs, Dash the Clumber spaniel and Albert the Basset hound, who had been her constant companions for years—Albert even helped Annie’s daughter, Charlotte, learn to walk by allowing her to grab on to his fur while she toddled around (check out the best buddies taking a rest break here.)
In 2003, Dash & Albert made its debut as a separate company at the New York Gift Show, with several woven cotton striped rugs—a signature Annie would become known for over the years—and a couple of big, bold patterns. The orders came fast and furious, exceeding everyone’s expectations.
As the company and its product line began to grow, Annie and her team put together the first wholesale catalog in 2007. Featuring amazing beauty images interspersed with fun photos of dogs and cheeky bits of copy, the catalog opened customers to versatility and the many styling possibilities of the rugs. It also introduced indoor/outdoor rugs, a category Dash & Albert would go on to dominate, and accessories like tote bags, throws, and decorative pillows.
Oh, and about those tote bags? Annie first came up with them while brainstorming gift ideas for an editor event in New York City. She folded a 2’ x 3’ rug in half, and asked the head of sewing, the awesome Barbara Garfield, to stitch it into shape and have a local shoemaker tack on leather handles. That was the prototype that inspired the original line, and the totes still sell like gangbusters today.
Since then, Dash & Albert has achieved a variety of milestones, from its first online sales in 2010 to the first retail catalog in 2013. The catalog club of four-footed supermodels has even been expanded, with horses and donkeys making their first appearance in 2012, a (gasp!) cat sneaking into the photo shoot in 2013, and the company’s first-ever Canine Casting Call, also in 2013.
The rugs have become favorites of everyone from busy moms to magazine editors and bloggers, and interior designers for some pretty famous clients—both the Romney family and the Obama White House have Dash & Albert in their collections. Annie thinks this has a lot to do with Dash & Albert’s broad appeal. “It appeals to all walks of life. High-end decorators like Michael Smith, Bunny Williams, and John Gilmer love it. It’s accessible, inspirational, and just right. It resonates with so many people, in so many spaces.”
In celebration of our 10-year anniversary, we’re hosting a bunch of incredible giveaways—stay tuned here and like Dash & Albert on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and follow us on Pinterest for 10 chances to win big. The first giveaway starts right now!
Annie is giving away one of her original designs and an off-the-charts best-seller, the Sunflower Ticking Rug in size 6′ x 9′ from Dash and Albert! Check out the Rafflecopter entry form below for 4 easy ways to enter! Contest ends on Sunday, October 6 at 11:59 p.m. EST. View the full details.
Congratulations to our winner, Robin from Maryland!