Holstein Housewares: Accent on Fun

Distrivalto's housewares brand looks to grow in novelty small electrics

By David Gill

Looking to have fun while cooking? Holstein Housewares probably has a product for you.

The brand, offered by Miami-based Distrivalto USA, has established a presence in the novelty small electrics market, which it hopes to expand over the next few years.

A short list of the Holstein product line finds several items with the word "Fun" in the name. These include the Fun popcorn maker, which makes varieties of popcorn ranging from cheddar-cheese to kettle-corn popcorn. There is also the Fun Pack, which is actually a duet of baking products including the Brownie Maker and the Cupcake Maker, and which comes with a squirt bottle, spatula and cake carrier.

A more recent product launch is the Pet Treat Maker, which can bake as many as six pet treats in the shape of a bone and four treats in the shape of a paw.

Holstein Pet Treat MakerThe Holstein Pet Treat Maker is an example of the fun products that the brand has come to represent in small appliances.

When it comes to product introductions, quantity appears to be not an issue with Holstein. At this year's International Home + Housewares Show, the brand debuted more than 80 new products. This massive launch included the Holstein Mini novelty appliance collection, which encompasses an empanada maker, a cake-bites maker, a brownie maker, a cupcake maker and a "whoopie pie" maker, among others.

The name of the latter product exemplifies the fun aspect of the Holstein line. So do the colors. Holstein manufactures its appliances using bright shades, among them recent Pantone Colors of the Year such as emerald and Tangerine Tango.

Holstein Housewares is the brain child of Diego Valera and Vanessa Valera-Nolte, the son and daughter of Jose Valera, who founded Distrivalto in 1982. According to Valera-Nolte, the company opened its doors in Venezuela as a distributor of certain brands of small electrics in Latin America.

Vanessa Valera-NolteHolstein's Vanessa Valera-Nolte demonstrating the brand's products in an HSN studio

Distrivalto moved to Miami in 2000. A few years later, Diego Valera approached his sister to conduct market research on the possibility of the company introducing its own housewares brand. The result was the launch of Holstein at the Housewares Show in 2007.

"We began with different categories," Valera-Nolte recalled. "Cookware, dinnerware, cutlery, coffeeware. We offered highly stylized, high-quality and affordable items. It was a huge opportunity because our brand was very well accepted."

The Great Recession, which took hold not long after that Housewares Show, temporarily detoured Holstein from the U.S. market. "We strategically decided to shift gears and concentrate on growing the brand in Latin America," Valera-Nolte said. "We also had the resources to do private labeling, and we were approached by many different companies to do just that."

Last year, with the economy back on the road (slowly) to recovery, Valera and Valera-Nolte decided to give the U.S. market another shot, with apparently successful results. "We have grown exponentially since the relaunch," Valera-Nolte said. "We now have six issued patents and additional pending patents in small electrics."

The novelty small electrics category has proven to be a strong opportunity for the brand. "We wanted to do something that was different in a category that was not saturated," Valera-Nolte said. "We didn't want to be another of the many companies that offer opening-price-point goods. We want to offer electrics that have added value. We want to be here to stay."

Judging from Valera-Nolte's description of Holstein's customer base, the brand has acquired the staying power she and her brother have sought for it. "We work with large retailers, both brick-and-mortar and online," she said. "We now distribute in more than 16 different countries. We now have additional offices in South America and China, and will open offices in other countries next year." Valera-Nolte cited Holstein's partnership with HSN, which has aired a number of its products including, most recently, the Pet Treat Maker, and is carrying them on its website.

To keep the momentum growing for the brand, Holstein puts much effort into marketing. "We offer both marketing and support at point of sale for retailers, including recipe books with products, customer service and packaging support," Valera-Nolte said. "We design all of that in our Miami office."

Although Holstein has grown 35 percent in sales over the past four years, "we're not even close to where we want to be," Valera-Nolte said. "We see ourselves growing beyond small electrics. We launched a bakeware line this year, and we also now have a porcelain tabletop line. All of these are complements to our small electrics."

As she stated, the Distrivalto staff is in a place which can help propel the Holstein brand still further down the road. "We are a young and dynamic company in terms of our staff, resulting in always thinking outside the box and looking for innovative approaches to our product portfolio and marketing strategies," Valera-Nolte said.

With its personnel and its approach to having fun in the kitchen, Holstein will continue on the road to where Distrivalto wants it to be over the next few years. "Our goal is to be a recognized household brand," Valera-Nolte said. "Good is not good enough. We strive for greatness."

David GillDavid Gill | Contributing Editor

David Gill is a contributing editor to HFN.


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