Design the Future by Carol Perkins of Harry Barker

Harry Barker logoBuckminster Fuller visited the Florida science lab where I was a 16-year-old intern, and he said something that changed my life: “The best way to predict the future is to design it.”

At Harry Barker, we ‘design a future’ that involves beautiful, useful products created from sustainable raw materials. What some may see as ‘waste,’ we see as reusable.


LeashesCollars and Leashes

Our collars and leashes are made from recycled plastic bottles – no longer headed for the landfill, but fashioned instead in attractive jacquard woven patterns.


My dog Mercy on Harry Barker BedMy dog Mercy on Harry Barker Bed

That’s my dog Mercy, happy atop a Harry Barker bed made of hemp, a natural, sustainable material. All of our cushions are filled with fiber made of recycled plastic bottles.
Bamboo Dog Bowls

And we make retro-looking biodegradable dog bowls from rice husks and discarded bamboo.

We don’t just apply our philosophy to products. We apply it to people (and dogs!) as well.


Canines For Veterans TreatsCanines for Veterans Treats & Can

For example, we support the Canines for Veterans program with the profits from treats sold in tins (made of recycled materials, of course). Canines for Veterans is a program that saves dogs from shelters, uses military prison inmates to train the dogs to become service dogs, and then provides the trained dogs to disabled returning veterans.

Shelter dogs, prisoners, and disabled people are too frequently looked down upon, as ‘lesser than’. We don’t view them that way. And we are proud that our support of this worthwhile initiative earned Harry Barker the SustainAbility 3 Award.

The success of our commitment to sustainable products is evidenced in the increase in attention (and sales!) we have consistently generated at NYIGF. What we’re seeing is that customers – stores, as well as end-product purchasers – seek ‘values based’ brands that create green products that are genuine, original and experiential.

We live in a wonderfully exciting time of open platforms, sharing, and diversity. One of my favorite resources for sustainable materials is Material ConneXion.

There is now an abundance of sustainable raw materials from which beautiful, useful products can be made. When we find them, use them, and create authentic and distinctive products, we fulfill Fuller’s mandate to design a future of which we can be truly proud.

Carol and HarryCarol Perkins and Harry

About: Ford model Carol Perkins founded Harry Barker in 1997 while recovering from Cushing’s Disease, a life threatening and rare brain tumor. Before her illness, Carol appeared in everything from Vogue to Harper’s Bazaar to Victoria’s Secret. While still modeling, she made her debut on Broadway as a fire-eater with Penn & Teller. Homebound during recovery, Carol turned to her love of dogs and textiles for therapy – and began creating dog beds, toys and robes for her friends’ pets. Soon, she was taking orders and hand sewing each one with care – launching Harry Barker from a table in her New York City loft.

Harry Barker exhibits in NYIGF’s General Gift division.

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