A Superior High School junior launched a dog clothing business in 2020 to stave off boredom during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, she's using her platform to raise money for Fortitude Service Dogs in Duluth.
Presley Kalin organized a craft show fundraiser that will be held in the Town of Superior on Oct. 9 from noon to 4 p.m. The event is paired with a fire station open house and chili feed that will run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The craft fair will feature everything from hand-painted wine glasses, baked goods and earrings to dog treats. The young entrepreneur will have her own booth filled with handmade dog bandannas in an array of prints. A silent auction will be held to support Fortitude Service Dogs, a nonprofit organization that raises, trains and places quality service dogs to people living with disabilities.
Kalin's grandmother taught her to sew when she was 7 years old.
The 16-year-old launched her dog clothing business, PamperedPupByPresley, last fall during the pandemic. It started with a personal project, a set of pajamas for one of the family’s three dogs, a shih tzu-pomeranian mix named Bauer.
“I figured out I was really good at making my own patterns,” Kalin said.
She designed and built dog jackets over the winter, then transitioned into bandanas. Instead of tying around the neck, the colorful triangles slip right onto the dog’s collar.
“It’s very comfortable for them, and then they can’t take it off,” Kalin said of her pattern.
Each bandana takes about 15 minutes to complete from start to finish. She can customize pieces with the dog’s name on them, using a Cricut machine and a steam press.
Since starting the business, the young seamstress has made roughly 300 bandanas and 20 coats in her workspace, the family’s spare bedroom. Most of her sales have been through Etsy or Instagram. Her pets help out.
“They are my models,” Kalin said. “They are all over my social media.”
Yellow Labrador Kota is the bandana model; Bauer is tapped for coat shots. Nine-year-old Madison, a wirehaired terrier/Labrador mix, isn’t featured often because she enjoys rolling in things and tends to be dirty.
There are additional spots available in the craft fair, Kalin said. Crafters can email email@example.com for more information.
Kalin learned about Fortitude Service Dogs through Kota. The Lab’s twin sister, Jenga, is currently being trained by the nonprofit. Ashley Talarico founded the organization in 2019.
“She is so interesting and so sweet and we just got together,” Kalin said.
The service dogs are trained to perform tasks specific to the needs of the person they’re matched with, from retrieving a cane and opening doors to picking something up off the ground or removing clothing. For military veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, it could include pressure therapy or panic attack interruption.
The nonprofit works with Labradors and golden retrievers. Jenga was the first dog to enter the program and was recently matched with a military veteran.
The dogs are funded exclusively through donations and sponsors. The organization is run by volunteers. Talarico, who works full-time at the 148th Fighter Wing in Duluth, said she was touched when Kalin offered to host the fundraiser.
"She has impressed me from the moment I met her with her maturity, professionalism and ambition. Presley is a bright, young mind with endless potential ... the world better look out because this girl is going places," Talarico said.
Fortitude Service Dogs is currently seeking puppy-raisers for 2022. These volunteers foster and raise a puppy for about a year and a half, attending classes and following a specific training regimen, before the dog returns to Talarico for advance training.
"Raising a puppy to become a service dog is an emotional journey, but a rewarding one," she said.
Volunteers can contact Talarico at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
A new space
The craft fair will be held in conjunction with an open house for the Town of Superior's new fire station.
Town residents approved construction of a new fire station in 2018. Located next to the town hall along Wisconsin Highway 35, the $1.8 million building was completed in fall 2020, and the fire department moved in on Sept. 14, 2020. The open house will be the first time the facility has been open to the public, according to fire chief Darryl Fiegle.
Everyone is invited to stop by for equipment and station tours from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 9. Fire prevention materials will be available and different types of chili will be served.
"This will also be our 60th anniversary celebrating the first day of service, Oct. 28, 1961, when a single engine was placed in service at the old station located at Manitou Valley Road and Highway 35," Fiegle said.
The new building is twice the size of the old fire station, just under 6,000 square feet. It features a 6,500 gallon water storage tank, a mezzanine with training props, a meeting area, an office and a tool equipment shop.
A separate storage room for personal protective equipment isolates the gear. The room has a ventilation system to help reduce contaminants released from gear after fires. An apparatus exhaust removal system was also installed. The department received a grant from East Central Energy for a new personal protective equipment extractor, which allows them to wash their gear after fires.
The Town of Superior Fire Department has 25 active members. In 2020, they responded to 199 calls for service. Fiegle expressed his thanks to the voters for supporting the new fire station project.