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Formal wear company makes grand entrance in Winsted
March 18, 2013

By Starrla Cray
Staff Writer

WINSTED, MN – Fashion designer/entrepreneur Kari Proffitt’s new formal wear company is sparkling with creativity – and so are the dresses she sells.

“My vision is for girls to come in and try on dresses, and then create something that’s their own style,” Proffitt said. “I could show them how to do beading, add lace, or maybe take off a sleeve.”

Proffitt by Design, located across the street from the library in downtown Winsted, is currently open Wednesdays and Fridays from 5 to 7 p.m., Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., or by appointment.

The dresses are significantly less expensive than most boutiques, and could be used for prom, homecoming, ambassador programs, wedding dances, and other special occasions.

“I’ve always been one for making my own style – I owe it to my home ec teacher,” Proffitt said, recalling her high school years in Wisconsin, when she entered clothing design contests in her free time.

Proffitt went to school for fashion design, and later worked at a discount clothing store in St. Louis Park. While there, she became intrigued by the idea of providing women with reasonably priced dresses.

“That was about 15 years ago, but I kept that in the back of my mind,” Proffitt said.

Last year, she asked some of the girls at Holy Trinity High School if they’d like a local place to buy inexpensive formal wear. Their emphatic “yes” prompted Proffitt to consider opening a shop in Winsted.

She purchased circle racks from The Attic Thrift and Gift in Winsted, and filled them with colorful selections from a theater costume/dress store that was going out of business.

“Everything just fell into place,” Proffitt said.

Proffitt provides all the alterations for her dresses, and also creates custom garter belts. Dresses purchased from other locations can also be modified.

“I’m adding a removable red belt and red jewels to one girl’s dress,” Proffitt said as an example.

In the future, she hopes to host fun events for teenagers and their families.

“We could do a fashion show as a fundraiser to support the Winsted Arts Council,” Proffitt suggested. “There are a lot of creative people in this town, and I want to give back to the community.”

When she opened a few weeks ago, her first customers were students from nearby schools, including her 14-year-old daughter, Jayde.

“Jayde is very artsy,” Proffitt said, describing a vintage dress Jayde revamped to fit modern style.

Proffitt’s husband, David, is the family’s “Mr. Handyman,” and the youngest Proffitt is 5-year-old Tukker.

Pocket pillows
Proffitt’s family helped inspire her second new business venture – the invention of the Hidden Treasure Pocket Pillow.

In the past, Proffitt always brought a backpack to sporting events, filled with activities to keep her children occupied. While sitting on hard bleachers at games, Proffitt often wished she could sit on a pillow.

So, she created a multi-layered pillow with internal pockets for storing toys, phones, wallets, and other personal items. Then, she took the idea one step further, adding side pockets on the inside pillow for hand warmers.

“To be perfectly honest, the idea actually came in a dream,” Proffitt said. “I woke up in the middle of the night and just felt compelled.”

She has a provisional patent on the design, and is in the process of getting the pillows into mass production for department stores.

With bright school colors and sports/hobby patterns, the pillows are ideal for fans and players. Proffitt even has a special write-on fabric for autographs, so teams can create personalized gifts for coaches.

“Guys I talked to said a camo-patterned one would be great for hunting, too,” Proffitt said.

The pillows are simple to wash, and feature an easy-carry loop.

More info
To learn more about Proffitt by Design or the Hidden Treasure Pocket Pillow, call Proffitt at (320) 296-0464, e-mail proffittbydesign@gmail.com, or stop in her shop on Main Avenue in Winsted.

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