By Britney Grover
When 13-year-old Calista Yun isn’t riding or doing her 7th grade schoolwork, she’s in the kitchen — baking and decorating horse treats for her business, TuffCookie.co. Though it began with making treats for her own pony, Calista’s mission to “leave no pony unspoiled” has grown into nonstop baking in her Manhattan Beach, California, home — and to helping animals in need. She donates a portion of every sale to PetDude Rescues, a small, home-based animal rescue in Rancho Cucamonga, California.
“Calista is beyond amazing,” said Curt Schiller, founder of PetDude Rescues. “I’m still starting out with my own rescue, so Calista donating part of her proceeds was beyond amazing. It directly helped a dog get the medical attention he needed — it quite literally saved a life. TuffCookie.co is an amazing business with amazing products, and we’re honored that she chose us to support.”
How and when did you get involved with horses?
I got involved with horses when I was 5 years old. I always saw horses on the way to school and begged my mom to let me ride. My very first horse was a pony named Georgie and I got her when I was 6. My second horse’s name is Linus; he was my show jumper but we’ve retired him and he is now my trail horse. Taquito is my third horse and is my main show jumping horse. I’ve had Taquito for less than a year.
What classes do you compete in?
The classes that I do now are the Children’s Jumpers 1.10m with Taquito. I’ve also been doing the hunters and equitation classes because my trainer and I know how important those classes are in making me a better rider. It’s been great because my trainer, Nick Haness, has been finding me lots of catch rides in those divisions!
Why did you start making cookies?
I started making cookies because my pony is metabolic, which means we have to watch what she eats and she can’t eat anything with sugar. But she still deserved treats, so I decided to make her sugar-free ones. I slowly moved over to making iced treats because I thought it was more fun and creative.
How did you learn to bake?
I learned to bake by watching many cooking TV shows, and then I realized how much fun it is to change up the ingredients and come up with my own recipes.
What made you decide to give part of your earnings away?
I know rescues and charities need it more. I am a major animal lover. In addition to my horses, I also have two dogs that are my world. It makes me so sad when I see sick, abandoned or abused animals and I’ve always wanted to help. Now I have a way.
Why did you decide to give your earnings to PetDude Rescues?
I decided to give my earnings to PetDude Rescues because it’s amazing what he’s doing for these animals in need. He truly cares and loves each and every animal he helps, and would do anything for them. I know how expensive it can be, so I thought that I could help with my earnings.
When you started, what was your goal? How are you doing now?
My goal was to have fun and make a few sales. Now, I’m always in the kitchen baking and decorating, trying to keep up with my order backlog!
What challenges have you faced as you’ve done this, and how have you overcome them?
The biggest challenge I’ve faced is balancing my time between school, riding and baking. Thankfully, my mom has been helping me throughout this entire venture by baking and decorating alongside me.
What would you like to tell others who want to do good in their community?
I think doing good in your community starts with doing what you know in your heart is right.
For more information on TuffCookie.co, visit TuffCookieco.com or Instagram @tuffcookie.co.
For more information on PetDude Rescues, visit PetDudeRescues.com or Instagram @petduderescues and @curtthepetdude.