Berkshire Business Outlook #3 — Country Curtains Launches Global Showcase for “Berkshire Originals”

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"Winter Dusk," by John MacDonald; image courtesy Country Curtains

“Winter Dusk,” by John MacDonald; image courtesy Country Curtains

Country Curtains recently launched “Berkshire Originals,” an online portal into the creativity of local arts offerings for the rest of the world to enjoy. By building relationships with all types of Berkshire artists, this interior decor landmark hopes to satisfy the longing of customers for the handmade, one-of-a-kind pieces you can only find here.

Country Curtains keeps tradition with digital gallery

In 1976, driven by a concern for providing affordable quality to our customers, the Fitzpatricks formed the Housatonic Curtain Company to manufacture products for Country Curtains. Located in the nearby town of Housatonic, the Housatonic Curtain Company still produces much of our curtain line today.

"Autumn Waters" pendant, by Jill Reynolds

“Autumn Waters” pendant, by Jill Reynolds

We spoke with president and CEO Phil McAvoy to find out what prompted Country Curtains to create this novel online marketplace. He explained that support of the arts is solidly in the DNA of the brand. Having expanded its offerings from curtains to window treatments to home decor, providing an access point to unique creations from Berkshire artists seemed perfectly in line with Country Curtains historical mission of locally produced quality.

So far, online shoppers can browse through paintings, photography, glass, pottery, handbags, textile arts, jewelry, and wood crafts.

We were lucky enough to catch up with two artists who have partnered with the Berkshire Originals programs to find out how this new opportunity is opening up new markets to their talents.

Jill Reynolds — Glass Artist

Jill Reynolds works out of her studio at the Cheshire Glass Works; supplied photo

Jill Reynolds works out of her studio at the Cheshire Glass Works; supplied photo

 

Since Jill Reynolds began crafting jewelry in 1994, she’s loved creating works of art that make people smile. After studying the basics of lampwork, glass bead making, and glassblowing nearly a decade ago, Jill’s pieces have a brilliant new dimension–which she describes as funky, elegant, earthy, unique, and totally wearable. Jill is following her dreams with the support of her family, friends, and clientele.

Jill explains (if not completely demystify) the process of working with glass to create objects of beauty. Starting out primarily offering her wares at craft and art fairs and markets, her business has grown steadily over the last ten years. She’s enlisted the talents of her husband, as well, whose silver creations perfectly complement her beads, pendants, and more. These and other objects have made her an immensely popular artist featured in Berkshire Originals.

 

"Heart of the Berkshires" bracelet, by Jill Reynolds

“Heart of the Berkshires” bracelet, by Jill Reynolds

John MacDonald — Painter

In addition to his works available through Berkshire Originals, countless examples of John MacDonald's works are displayed on his website; submitted photo.

In addition to his works available through Berkshire Originals, countless examples of John MacDonald’s works are displayed on his website; submitted photo.

 

We could have listened to John talk about painting and nature for hours. The passion you’ll hear in his voice as he describes his views on the subject is apparent in every brush stroke.

Although he purposefully tries to refrain from creating narrative with any individual piece, a storyline does, nevertheless, seem to emerge from the body of his work as a whole.

John attended Washington University in St. Louis where he received a BFA in 1979. Following college, he attended a four month intensive printmaking workshop at the Institute for American Universities in Avignon, France. Returning to the States, he received an MA degree in drawing and painting from Purdue University in 1982.

For nearly twenty years, John worked as both a full-time freelance illustrator and landscape painter. He won awards from Print Magazine as well as having work appear in the Society of Illustrators annual show. Since the late 2000’s, he has been painting full time. His paintings can be found in private, corporate, and museum collections throughout North America.

"Early Thaw," By John MacDonalsd; image courtesy Country Curtains

“Early Thaw,” By John MacDonalsd; image courtesy Country Curtains

Professional memberships have included the Society of Illustrators, the Illustrators Partnership of America, the National Association of Plein Air Painters, and the Graphic Artists Guild. He is certified through the Creativity Coaching Association as a creativity coach and brings his coaching experience to his workshops.

Country Curtains was founded by Jane and Jack Fitzpatrick in 1956 in Whitman, MA. In 1958, the Fitzpatrick family moved to Stockbridge, MA and with them came Country Curtains. Country Curtains operated out of the Fitzpatrick’s home until 1969, when Jack and Jane purchased The Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge and moved the business there. Its flagship store continues to operate out of the Red Lion Inn.

 

Country Curtains' new "Berkshire Originals" connects local artists to collectors worldwide.

Country Curtains’ new “Berkshire Originals” connects local artists to collectors worldwide.

 

Country Curtains was founded by Jane and Jack Fitzpatrick in 1956 in Whitman, MA. In 1958, the Fitzpatrick family moved to Stockbridge, MA and with them came Country Curtains. Country Curtains operated out of the Fitzpatrick’s home until 1969, when Jack and Jane purchased The Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge and moved the business there. Our flagship store continues to operate out of the Red Lion Inn.

Since 1976 Country Curtains has added 26 more retail stores, developed a larger catalog, and launched its website in 1996.

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