While working as a graphic designer on the West Coast years ago, Erica Preo of Pittsboro had an encounter that would change the direction of her career.
That life-changing moment came in the form of a despondent stray dog wandering along a busy street in Oakland, Calif. While passersby ignored the pup, Preo was touched by the animal’s plight.
“I brought him home, cleaned him up and he became one of the family,” she says.
That dog, Touffie, inspired Preo to start Pantofola, a Pittsboro-based company that designs Italian-produced luxury collars for dogs. Preo uses the business to help other dogs in need of rescue by donating a minimum 10 percent of sales to rescue organizations that help animals around the world.
Pantofola’s collars and accessories are designed by Preo and made of fine leather in Italy. The idea of a high-end dog collar may seem laughable to some – the collars are listed at $265 – but Preo sees her collars as more than just a utilitarian device.
“I wanted to create another option dedicated to better design decisions, materials and craftsmanship for sophisticated tastes,” she says. “For example, instead of using stock hardware that’s often heavy and uncomfortable for a dog, I designed our own solid brass pieces to be rounded and unobtrusive; our leashes have soft padding in the handle to provide comfort for your hand and wrist. There’s a key element to luxury that’s really about anticipating what’s needed and doing it because you genuinely care. We don’t do anything ‘less than’ because it’s a product for a dog.”
Preo has cultivated a strong following for her products, which are sold online at pantofola-mia.com and at select boutiques, such as Dovecote in Pittsboro’s Fearrington Village. The store will hold a trunk show of Pantofola products Saturday and Sunday.
As she grows her business, Preo hopes to add products, with leashes coming in December and totes and carriers in the future. She sees the growth as a means to do the thing closest to her heart – helping animals in need.
“I think that everyone wants to be good at what they do, but an opportunity to do good has so much more meaning because it’s a contribution to something beyond yourself,” she says. “Some people might wonder why the welfare of dogs is so important, but the truth is that dogs touch so many human lives. Through their companionship and loyalty they teach us things and they make us better people, a better society. There’s absolutely no difference between the loving dogs sitting here with me now and the countless others abandoned in shelters euthanized each day. Every single one of them has the capacity to be someone’s best friend, to change a life for the better, and that’s all they want. We owe them that chance.”
Cancer survivors will don the latest looks from designer Tory Burch during the Fashion Fights Cancer Holiday Spectacular fashion show at Saks Fifth Avenue in Raleigh on Thursday at 6 p.m. The show benefits the Foundation for Women’s Cancer, and attendees can enjoy after-hours shopping, Champagne and snacks. Saks will donate 10 percent of sales to the cancer charity. To RSVP, call 919-792-9100, ext. 5108.
This week’s trunk show lineup really sparkles with a spate of jewelry shows just in time for the holidays.
▪ Saks Fifth Avenue in Triangle Town Center will have new jewelry from the fall collection of designer Stephanie Kantis in store Thursday and Friday. Call 919-792-9100 for an appointment.
▪ Vermillion in Raleigh’s North Hills will have new pieces from The Woods Fine Jewelry for a trunk show Thursday through Saturday. To make an appointment, call 919-787-9780.
▪ Statement necklaces and more from jewelry designer Julie Vos debut at SOUTH boutique in Chapel Hill during a trunk show Friday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Call 919-240-5475 for details.
▪ Jewelry designer Ippolita comes to Raleigh on Saturday for an appearance during a trunk show of new designs at Bailey’s Fine Jewelry in Cameron Village. The Italian designer will be on hand 10 a.m.-2 p.m., and the trunk show continues through 5:30 p.m. For more info, call 919-829-7337.
Bobbi Brown party
Makeup artists from Bobbi Brown will offer tips, makeovers and more during a brand party Thursday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., at Certain Things in Cameron Village. During the event, there will be refreshments and free gifts. Call 919-828-5055.
Peachy Keen boutique hosts a celebration of TOMS shoes and the work they do for children in Peru on Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. Attendees can see a film on the company’s work in Peru, nosh on Peruvian-inspired snacks and drinks and register to win an international trip. For more info, visit thepeachykeen.com.
The Triangle’s fashion retail scene is growing. Three new stores open their doors this week.
▪ Preppy outfitter Vineyard Vines opens its first Durham store at the Streets at Southpoint on Friday. The store is on the lower level near J.C. Penney.
▪ Lisana Activewear, a luxury women’s activewear boutique, has opened in Raleigh’s Lafayette Village. The store will celebrate its grand opening Friday from 6 to 10 p.m. with a party including hors d’oeuvres and wine. For details, call 919-307-3933.
▪ In North Hills, Jarrett Bay Clothing Co. has opened. The store, which is an off-shoot of the Beaufort-based boat company, sells coastal-inspired sportswear. A grand opening celebration will be held Nov. 18. The store is between Vivace and Uniquities.
The Handmade Market returns to downtown Raleigh Friday and Saturday at Market Hall in City Market. This month’s market includes handmade gifts, home décor and accessories from local artisans such as Audrey Lane Collection jewelry, SSD Jewelry and TL Jewelry Designs. Show hours are 7-9 p.m. Friday (early-bird with $5 fee) and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday (free). Raffle tickets will be sold to benefit Activate Good, a local organization that matches volunteers with charities. For more info, visit thehandmademarket.com.
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