What’s So Special About the Upstate New York Brand MacKenzie-Childs?
Tucked away on the shores of Cayuga Lake in New York's Finger Lakes Region is the birthplace of one of America's most iconic home decor brands.
MacKenzie-Childs was created in 1983 on a former dairy farm overlooking Cayuga Lake 40 years ago and today, it still has a solid following not just in Upstate New York, but worldwide. The company is known for its signature Courtly Checks black and white checkerboard pattern and has been featured in notable stores and publications such as in the Neiman Marcus holiday catalog.
MacKenzie-Childs was the brainchild of Victoria and Richard MacKenzie-Childs who came to Upstate New York from England in 1980. The couple purchased a boarded-up farmhouse on Cayuga Lake for $20,000 and are estimated to have spent nearly $2 million on renovations and additions over the next 30 years.
In the fall of 2012, the MacKenzie-Childs estate was listed with Sotheby’s International Realty at just under $1 million and was purchased by Chet Manchester and Anne Sutherland Early in 2013 for $595,000. In April of 2022, the MacKenzie-Childs estate was once again placed on the market with Michael Derosa Exchange Llc, this time for $1.8 million. As of October 3, 2022, the sale of the property is pending.
17 years after its inception, the MacKenzie-Childs brand entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2000, and in 2001, the company was purchased by Pleasant Rowland for $5.5 million. Pleasant Rowland is best known for creating the American Girl brand. When Pleasant Rowland bought MacKenzie-Childs, Victoria and Richard lost all rights to the brand but have since made a new business called Richard and Victoria Emprise. Richard and Victoria Emprise offers a line of pottery and jewelry.
It took the Pleasant Rowland team five years, but they were able to make the MacKenzie-Childs company profitable once again. Today, MacKenzie-Childs Ltd. is owned by Aurora Brands and also owns Patience Brewster Inc. Patience Brewster Inc. is named for an Upstate New York book illustrator and ornament designer who joined the design team at MacKenzie-Childs.
Today, MacKenzie-Childs remains headquartered on Cayuga Lake and its grounds are open to the public. Free tours are also offered and each year, it features a barn sale that brings in people from around the world hoping to get their hands on an authentic MacKenzie-Childs piece at a discount of 40 to 80 percent.