Creative. Approachable. Fun. Caring. That’s how the co-founders of Dove and Donkey, a luxury home textiles source with a strong social mission, want their customers to see their brand. Those adjectives also apply to the two women behind the company.
“Yes, some of our pieces may be higher priced, but we want to be relatable. We’re not stuffy and neither are our products. Sheila and are really down to earth. We’re really cool,” says Jadine Greenaway, her own laugh eliciting a chuckle from business partner Sheila Galligan. The two are definitely having fun with their company, launched in 2020.
Boston-based Dove and Donkey specializes in throws, tabletop linens and other textiles made from sustainable fibers, primarily alpaca fleece. Galligan is a cheerleader for the fiber, noting that alpaca herds aren’t as hard on the land as some other animals and their fleece doesn’t require as much water to clean as sheep’s wool. The company’s Fair Trade Certified alpaca products are hand dyed and handcrafted in Arequipa, Peru. Dove and Donkey also works with artisans in Argentina to produce 100% cotton fabric that’s then hand painted. A team in Boston turns that yardage into pillow shams, table runners and other products.
Evocatively named, Dove and Donkeys’ products are richly colored and easily layered together. At the recent Atlanta Market, it debuted its Flora blanket, with a scattering of flowers hand applied to the 80” x 40” woven alpaca blanket for a vintage vibe. “It’s as if this blanket has been in your family for a long time,” Galligan says. And though it hasn’t been, Dove and Donkey hopes it will be. “We want our pieces to be loved for a long time,” she continues. “That’s why we’re using certain fibers — to create beautiful, long-lasting pieces.” The Flora retails for $850.
Also new is the Hold It basket, a hand-felted, hand-dyed storage piece made with a combination of alpaca fleece and sheep’s wool for a soft, yet sturdy vessel. At 14 inches in diameter and 12 inches tall, it retails for $160.
Wolly Mammoth was one of the company’s first products. It’s a thick, but silky, cozy blanket made of Suri alpaca and Merino wool ($650.) The company’s Space Between Us throw demonstrates that alpaca products can be light and airy, too. Made of baby alpaca fleece, it is woven with varied spacing for movement, texture and breathability. Eyelash fringe adds extra dimension ($300). Plans are in the works for larger bed blankets and possibly rugs, Galligan says.
Dove and Donkey’s vibrant color palette, with hues like Electric Yellow, Ink and Grapefruit, also makes room for softer neutrals like Shell and Cloud. As they add colors and styles, Galligan and Greenaway strive to maintain cohesion in the line. “There’s a lot of newness in the line all the time but also continuity so everything blends into a whole,” Greenaway says. “If you’ve purchased from us last year, there’s going to be something in the line this year that will play really nicely with it.”
Their ideal retail partners, Galligan and Greenaway say, are high-end boutiques, and luxury home and department stores whose customers appreciate unique and sustainably made items. Dove and Donkey also is doing a strong business with interior designers, a part of the industry Galligan knows well.
Locking down and getting started
Galligan worked for years as an interior designer. Dove and Donkey is, like so many businesses, the solution to a problem she had as a designer. “I was always looking for throws and blankets that had more texture and color — not the run-of-the-mill stuff you see everywhere,” she says.
Not finding what she wanted, Galligan started thinking about building her own company — and she had a business partner in mind. Galligan had known Greenaway for nearly a decade. The two met while Greenaway worked in footwear at Barney’s. Galligan liked Greenaway’s sense of style and knew that her retail background and experience with luxury consumer goods would be an asset and complement to her own experience as an interior designer.
“Even though Sheila and I had known each other for a long time, I didn’t know what she did (for a living),” Greenaway says. “When she said, ‘Let’s sit down and have a conversation,’ I was thinking it was going to be about fashion. And it was — but not the fashion I thought it was going to be about.”
After a few more conversations — and a few glasses of wine — Greenaway was in. “We see eye to eye,” Greenaway says. “It’s very rare that we disagree about something.”
They started designing and sourcing products in 2018 with a launch planned for spring of 2020, a challenging time, to say the least. “So, we had a decision to make,” Galligan says. “Do we wait and see? Or do we just go ahead and give it a try? Because, really, there’s never a right time to launch a business. So, we decided to just go ahead and take our chances.”
The founders’ initial plan to show their products at home furnishings markets in 2020 were skuttled by Covid-19 pandemic restrictions. So, they did what so many companies had to that spring: They pivoted, launching a direct-to-consumer retail website and, when stay-at-home orders were lifted, created a few pop-up shops. Once trade events resumed, they showed at Shoppe Object in New York and this summer were among the High Design Luxe exhibitors at the Atlanta Market.
Launching their business at the start of the pandemic had other challenges, as well. Galligan and Greenaway haven’t been able to travel to South America as much as they’d planned and they’ve suffered supply chain glitches like practically every company in the home furnishings industry. “We’ve had to pivot many, many times, but I think in pivoting, it’s shown our versatility and our ability to adapt to change,” Greenaway says.
A social mission and slow fashion
When it came to naming the business, they settled first on “Donkey” because of the women’s shared respect for the animal, a workhorse still regularly used in Peru, where many of their products are made. “It’s an intelligent animal,” a symbol of hard work and dedication, Greenaway says, explaining that she has fond memories of her grandfather riding a donkey to visit her at her childhood home in Montserrat in the West Indies. The “Dove” in the name represents hope and peace — and the company’s commitment to social issues.
Dove and Donkey’s strong social mission goes beyond sourcing sustainable materials and engaging in fair trade practices. For instance, the founders hired Artists for Humanity to create its logo. The Boston-area nonprofit aids under-resourced teens by helping them to find paid jobs in art and design, and Dove and Donkey has sold some of the teens’ artwork through their pop-up shops, too. And when Galligan and Greenaway needed models for a photo shoot, they turned to Urbanity Dance, a nonprofit that seeks to inspire and empower people and communities through dance and movement.
Building on the “Donkey” in Dove and Donkey, Galligan and Greenaway started a companion apparel company called Tardy Donkey, which is a play on the idea of slow fashion rather than fast fashion. The direct-to-consumer Tardy Donkey brand specializes in small-batch clothing made of natural fibers, including 100% cotton items produced in Los Angeles, and alpaca hats and socks made in Peru. “All of our pieces have a vintage element but with a modern-day spin,” Greenaway says. “Everything is elevated; we’re anything but basic. … It’s a super approachable brand that spans all ages.”
More for you: positive vibes
In the About Us section of the Dove and Donkey website, co-founders Sheila Galligan and Jadine Greenaway end their bios in an upbeat, supportive way, listing the things that each likes about the other.
- Galligan’s favorite things about Greenaway: “Her smile — it lights up a room. Her incredible sense of style. Her punctuality. Her love of family and homeland. Her work ethic. She’s just so cool!”
- Greenaway’s favorite things about Galligan: “She is meticulous — triple checks everything! Her eye for design ‘wows’ me every step of the way. I love her relationship with her daughters: She is that cool mom. She is caring by nature and is a genuinely beautiful soul. Fun fact: I am obsessed with her hair!”