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My Pet World: Kathy Ireland extending her passion for fashion to pets

By Steve Dale, Tribune Content Agency on

Kathy Ireland's Worldwide brand is 28th most powerful brand in the nation, according to Forbes Magazine, topping $2 billion in licensed products in 2013. When it comes to home decor, the one-time super model is a superstar and more than a tad successful. Announced at the Global Pet Expo in Orlando, FL, on March 13, Ireland has now partnered with a pet products company called Worldwise (cq).

At Worldwise, Ireland's pet decor collection is called Loved Ones. This is no coincidence, she says.

"Of course, pets are members of the family. They are loved ones," she says.

Business can be "dog eat dog," but the pet business is a bit different, Ireland says.

"The kindness of everyone we met was surprising. This industry has incredible, warm and wonderful people. We've been welcomed in a special way."

In the 1980s, Ireland was a model, arguably most remembered today by sport fans, or at least readers of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issues. She appeared as cover girl on the special edition three times. Also an actress, Ireland has appeared in films and television. Her movies include "Alien from L.A." (1988), "Unnecessary Roughness" (1991) and "Loaded Weapon 1" (1993). In 1994, she landed a recurring role on the popular prime time soap opera "Melrose Place." In 2009, Ireland was a contestant on "Dancing With the Stars."

Today, Ireland is best known as a keen businesswoman and founder of Worldwide, which she began 21 years ago. Her first product wasn't a swimsuit, but a pair of socks. The company is involved in fashion, home, entertaining, outdoor and wedding products.

According to printed reports, Ireland's pet products sales career began when she was about 10 years old and sold hand-painted pet rocks. She's come a long way. Ireland's new line of pet products is near and dear to her heart, as she puts it.

Of course, Ireland is a pet lover.

Her dogs Gracie and Delilah are both Maltese. Sparky, Lucky, Coco and Toto are all mixed-breed pooches. Gracie and Delilah were left to Ireland and her family when her dear friend, actress Elizabeth Taylor, passed away.

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