Anna Marie Malcom watched as 3-week old Prissie sat in her cage, shivering from the cold.
The Creal Springs woman couldn’t sit idly as the newborn Fawn Chihuahua appeared to be suffering. She took to her sewing machine and made a dress for the dog. The shivering stopped, and Prissie has been a canine fashionista ever since.
But as Malcom tried finding more clothes for the pup, she found out shopping for fido fashion isn’t as easy as one may expect.
“Sometimes you buy them, and they fit; but often times they’re too big or too small,” she said. “So I just started playing around with it.”
As she continued to make new outfits for Prissie and her mother, 5-year old Lil Bit, others began to take notice, and soon, people were asking Malcom to create clothes for their own pets. Malcom decided to take the leash and run with it, formally establishing her business, Fido Fashion.
She handcrafts a variety of outfits, primarily for smaller canines like Chihuahuas, Yorkshire Terriers and Rat Terriers. While some outfits are pre-made, custom fittings are always an option to ensure a proper fit.
Malcom makes clothes for both male and female dogs, often creating matching and themed sets. Designs are chosen to fit a variety of seasons, personal tastes and use, as she crafts dresses, jackets, vests, hooded sweatshirts and more.
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And if none of Malcom’s materials suit a client’s needs, she invites them to select their own.
“If you see material you really like, buy it and I will not charge you full price to make it,” she said. “I may not always get to the same places you saw that material, or they may sell out of it.”
Most of Malcom’s outfits range in price from $7.50 to $10, depending on the materials involved. In addition to clothes, she also sells pillows, blankets and tote bags, and she has patterns for bonnets, swimsuits and pajamas.
For the past year, Malcom has sold materials online and set up at various fairs and festivals throughout Southern Illinois. She hopes to ultimately open a physical store to sell her wares, but she knows things take time.
“You’ve got to crawl before you walk, walk before you run,” she said. “We’re trying to just take this a little bit at a time.”
While she’s growing her business, Malcom also uses her trade as a form of entertainment. Because of personal ties to the facility, she brings Prissie and Lil Bit to the veterans’ nursing home in Marion twice a week for a canine meet-and-greet and fashion show with the residents.
“The people there really enjoy seeing them,” she said. “I have one lady there who loves to see what different outfits they’re wearing each week.”