ONALASKA, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – Hannah Pintar and her mom, Jennifer Koop, just wanted to make some candles and things to hopefully sell at craft fairs and vendor events. A few short years later, they have a thriving storefront, an interior design subsidiary and an annual party that can’t be missed. The business is Natty West, the storefront is in Onalaska and the party is Flannel Fest.
The story goes that Jennifer has a pretty serious allergy to most scents or better, the chemicals used to create those scents. The two set out to make candles and diffusers that would not trigger sensitivities while simultaneously keeping the environment in mind. They made, and still make, soy/vegetable-based candles with… “your health in mind.” Their candles are phthalate and carcinogen-free with lead-free, cotton wicks and come in glass packaging that you can refill.
Those candles and diffusers took them to the vendor circuit where they enjoyed decent success with their wares. Then, the storefront sort of landed in their lap.
Hannah says they were friends with the owner of the shop that was in the space on Sand Lake Road in Onalaska. She was looking to retire and simply asked Pintar and Koop if they wanted the space. Finding it far too enticing to pass up, they said yes. Everything was worked out and the papers were signed. Then the women realized they had to fill the space.
So, it was back to that vendor circuit. Sort of.
In their own words, Natty West, “strives to bring you all of our area’s best makers in the comfort of a one-stop shop.” The duo asked if there were any of those maker friends that wanted to consign in the storefront and the response was, by in large, yes. Now, the store is filled to the brim with locally made or sourced crafts, clothing, coffee, candles and diffusers (obviously), and wares of all sorts and kinds.
And that is the abridged history of Natty West. But that isn’t why we’re here. I wanted to talk about Flannel Fest! The party that can’t be missed.
I walked into that, now infamous, storefront with the idea of talking about Flannel Fest. I walked out impressed with how versatile, adaptable and clearly capable Hannah and Jennifer are. They went from a pretty basic idea with the goal of just making things to a full-blown, quite beautiful, store and business. Then I found out that Flannel Fest is more of the same story.
Way back in 2019 Hannah and Jennifer had this crazy idea to call on those friends I mentioned and throw a sort of party. Nothing big or outlandish. Just a gathering of makers and some music on Jennifer and her husband’s land. After all, they raise alpacas north of Holmen and it made for the perfect spot for a gathering of this sort. Like the other things that Hannah and Jennifer touch, it turned out to be much bigger. That smallish gathering turned out to be at least double what they thought it would and people stayed well into the night.
Naturally, when the storefront came to be, they moved Flannel Fest there and it continued to grow. Hannah said last year there were lines out the door and staffing became an issue as she was tethered to the front desk all day.
I told you. This party can’t be missed.
Vendors of all sorts and types, multiple food vendors, trick or treating, fall activities, an alpaca exhibit, and live music all happening on October 28th in Onalaska. You can find all of the details at nattywest.com/fallfest. There are more details to come, so keep checking back for the latest and greatest.
It honestly feels like there isn’t much that Pintar can’t accomplish. While we spoke about Flannel Fest and her store, she happily bounced her newborn daughter on her hip, ran that storefront, assisted the shoppers milling about, and fielded my inane questions. If for no other reason, stop by the store and take in Flannel Fest to see what a capable mother-and-daughter duo can do with little more than inspiration and determination.
Oh, and make sure you save the date for Flannel Fest. But get there early, who knows how big it will be this year!