It’s Only Natural
An impromptu trip from Denmark to England started it all.
It was the summer of 1973, and while traveling in Denmark, Grant Dowse and Pegge Kirschner decided to take a road trip to England. To make the car comfortable enough to camp in, they bought, among other things, a cotton flannel sheet.
They eventually brought the sheet home with them, and later ordered a similar item from an American mail order company. But it wound up being a synthetic version of the English flannel sheet they’d purchased in Europe. That transaction inspired them to launch their own mail order business.
Married three years later, the Dowses transformed their cottage in New Hampshire’s White Mountains into an office. They placed a 1-inch ad in Yankee Magazine and a 2-inch ad in Country Journal in December 1976. Not long after, they mailed their first catalog: a die-cut brochure with flannel swatches.
Their timing couldn’t have been better. The United States was in the throes of an energy crisis and Garnet Hill’s cozy flannel bedding offered a simple means of reducing heating bills. Six months into their venture, the Dowses were forced to move the company to a new location in downtown Franconia, N.H.; the original structure still remains part of Garnet Hill’s headquarters today.
Celebrating its 30th year in business, Garnet Hill has expanded its product line from flannel sheets and bedding to women’s fashion, home furnishings, and children’s clothing, furniture, bedding and accessories.
Its physical and organizational structures may be more sophisticated than in its early days, but Garnet Hill’s leadership enforces the company’s original values: high quality, integrity, respect and solid customer service — the main reasons, company management believes, it continues to succeed.
Fair Treatment = Loyalty
“Loyalty is one of the things that you earn, and we’ve earned it over time by treating our customers fairly and with respect, and by bringing them a great product,” says Garnet Hill President/CEO Russ Gaitskill, who notes that the product line is proprietary. “We spend a lot of time and effort on the technical part of design and quality.”