A Lesson In Holiday Spirit with The Whitehurst Company’s Kirsten McDonough

Originally published August 16, 2016

Image above via The Whitehurst Company showroom.

For nearly seven decades, The Whitehurst Company has delivered the joy of the season to retailers worldwide through their Christmas and home holiday products. Operating out of Rochester, NY, Whitehurst is a two generation, family-owned business run by Kirsten McDonough.

We were able to speak with McDonough at the peak of the wholesale holiday buying season to discuss why she took over the family business, what new products are in store for 2017 and everything in between.

How did The Whitehurst Company’s first collection come about?
Mr. and Mrs. Morris Whitehurst started the company in 1947. Mrs. Whitehurst put together a selection and from there it grew.

Can you tell us about when you decided that you wanted to take over the family business?
My dad worked for the company and eventually bought the company in 2000. I joined in with my dad in 2008, when my youngest went off to kindergarten. I grew up with my grandparents owning a gift shop and my father in the business as well. Christmas has been a favorite holiday of mine since I was little and it only seemed natural to join my dad at this time in the Christmas industry. I love the excitement and sparkle in people’s eyes when they say Christmas! Everyone seems to always smile when around a decorated Christmas tree. It is a wonderful holiday that exudes faith, family and friends.

How would you define a great product?
A great product to us means a few different things. The quality and care of making our products are our first priority. The meaning and feeling you receive when purchasing or giving the product as a gift are just as important. We stand by our products and believe in them.

Which comes first: The elf or the personality behind the elf?
Each elf has his or her own personality. If you look at their faces and depending on their activity, they tell you a story.

What has surprised you about working with holiday decor?
It is a very happy and meaningful holiday season, so each ornament, elf or nutcracker all lends to an emotion. Our hope is that these items will be passed on for generations.

What is the holiday season like for someone who works with holiday decor year-round?
It is still very exciting. I do need to start my personal decorating and shopping a little earlier, as our busy season creeps into that time.

Why did you decide to sell your products on the Bonagora Marketplace?
We feel that the culture of the industry is changing at a rapid pace. Our hope is to evolve with the new ideas and grow. Bonagora seemed to be a great fit for us that is heading toward the future.

You exhibited at AmericasMart Atlanta last month. How was it?
AmericasMart is always exciting. We have a permanent showroom there and enjoy being there. There are four shows a year and the attendees and amount of activity at each show is evolving.

What’s next for the Whitehurst Company?
Whitehurst is excited about the future. We are growing our European glass ornament line for 2017 and are always adding new elves and nutcrackers. We are working with new vendors to always bring fresh products to our customers.

Visit The Whitehurst Company Bonagora showroom now to browse their full collection of whimsical elves, heirloom collectable nutcrackers, glass ornaments and other holiday decor. Meanwhile, here are some of our favorites.

For more articles and interviews like this, keep updated with the Bonagora Blog and learn about our designers and styles in furniture and home decor from all over the world.