Superlatives 2012

Party Animal

What started as a hobby for Alice Nichols – hand-sewing custom dog collars in her basement – has turned into UpCountry, a nationally recognized maker of collars, leads, accessories, beds, …

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What started as a hobby for Alice Nichols – hand-sewing custom dog collars in her basement – has turned into UpCountry, a nationally recognized maker of collars, leads, accessories, beds, treats and toys for dogs and cats. “We grew up in my family bringing in animals,” Nichols says. “We were always taking in strays. It’s always been part of my life: caring about animals.” The East Providence-based company is almost 30 years old now, but UpCountry keeps things fresh by working closely with the community: consulting with textile designers at RISD and charities like the Providence Animal Rescue League, the Potter League in Newport and the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which is the company’s next door neighbor. Nichols donates a new collar and lead to every pet adopted from there. “Being so close to the Rhode Island SPCA, we go over there all the time and we see the great work that they do,” she says. “It’s so easy for us to do the partnership that we’ve set up. People literally pick up their adopted dog, walk across the street to us, and pick out a new collar and leash. It’s really fun to see people with their new dogs. They’re always so excited: the owners are excited, the dogs are excited. The people that work here get to see how much people appreciate getting a cute collar and leash for their new rescue dog.”