Barbie Cassidy is a born and bred farm girl from the Hawkes Bay. An ex-veterinary nurse and Labrador breeder, It was a gift of some of bags of knopped wool and a concern for animal comfort that sparked Barbie Cassidy's business, V.I.P Dog Beds - for Very Important Pets. She believed that comfortable, warm bedding would benefit the many dogs that she had treated who often suffered from arthritis and sore joints. Barbie had seen various versions of pet beds but all were filled with cheap, synthetic material. Using the woollen knops she had been gifted, she designed an improved version of dog bed for her canine friends. Barbie persuaded a local saddler to make up the first beds - one for a Jack Russell and one for a Labrador, both sold immediately. That was in 1991 and the business has gone from strength to strength since then.
Barbie is obsessed with wool and natural fibres, something she has passed on to her family. They are often found with absolutely no synthetics on their bodies or in their homes. Wearing wool products is something that Barbie does on a daily basis from Fanny Adams underwear to All birds Merino shoes. She is a proud advocate of natural fibres, especially New Zealand Wool. All of their gumboots are lined with sheepskin inners, something Barbie believes that all meat workers, farm staff, gardeners etc should have as she will attest "they put a spring in one’s step and make the day a lot happier. A little like the farm dogs who can run hard and fast all day, their joints and muscles being pushed to the limits only to rest at night on a fat VIP sack generously filled with 4 kg of Wool."
Barbie is pretty chuffed that VIP Dog Beds are now available in North America. After a License Agreement was recently signed with high end wool products manufacturer, Paragon Wool, to use VIP Dog Bed patterns, name and website. "It is early days yet but Stephen Fookes, who was once Chair of the N.Z Campaign for Wool, has started production, and while they are still fine tuning some of the processes it is a fantastic opportunity for New Zealand Wool to stamp a mark in the American Market.
You are a dedicated wool lover Barbie. What a busy life you have led. Keep up your enthusiasm and advocacy for NZ Wool. We love sharing about your exciting, upcoming endeavours!