By Feoshia Henderson
If you crack open the November issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, you’ll catch some Kentucky high fashion in its “Adam Says” column.
The column, written by O Creative Director Adam Glassman, features Covington’s Fabulous-Furs, responding to a reader looking for “clothing and accessories that feel as warm and luxurious (as fur) but don’t harm any animals.”
Glassman raved about the Covington business’ faux fur, saying he went “bonkers” after seeing founder Donna Salyers’ pieces. Specifically referencing a winter coat and purse, Glassman described them as “beautifully cut” “superwarm” and “sumptuous.” The column features color pictures of the fur items, along with pricing and the Fabulous-Furs website address.
It was the best Christmas present Salyers, a hard-working business woman and designer, could have received during her busiest time of year. The endorsement by one of the nation’s top taste makers is just the latest in a long line of celebrity love for Salyers fur coats and accessories.
“It always kind of defines our company. Like ‘Oh My, gosh we were on Jay Leno last night,’ or ‘We were on Ms. Universe when they walked down in their swimsuits in the finalists’ competition,” says Salyers in a recent interview with KyForward in her Covington office.
Donna Salyers’ Fabulous-Furs mixes celebrity style, wearable fashion
She jokes, saying it took, “An act of God” to get the O mention. But, really, it was a more earthly affair.
The O columnist ran into a Fabulous Fur booth at an Atlanta trade show in July.
“My daughter sent me an email saying, ‘Oh my God, Adam Glassman just came to our booth, walked in, and said ‘Oh! Fabulous-Furs I love you!’” she says. “I looked him up, and sure enough we’ve been sending stuff to him since 2006.”
And that’s not the end of the O love.
“Next month we get to be in Oprah’s Favorite Things (issue). So it’s going to be a double whammy, and we’re so grateful,” she says.
Salyers may be grateful, but she shouldn’t be surprised. For the nearly 23 years, she’s gotten lots of celebrity attention for her reasonably priced luxury coats and accessories.
A few highlights:
• 1993-Cosmo editor, the late Helen Gurley Brown, is pictured in People Magazine wearing a Fabulous-Fur
• 1995-Salyers does a fashion show on the Crook and Chase talk show, followed by a drawing for a sable
• 2000-Television and movie star Jennifer Love Hewitt’s dog is outfitted in a Fabulous-Furs doggie coat
• 2004-Fabulous-Furs gloves and scarves are part of the celebrity goodie bags during the Sundance Film Festival
• 2005-Singer Patti LaBelle dons a Fabulous-Furs coat during a concert in Cincinnati
• 2011-Model Kate Moss is featured in British Vogue wearing a Fabulous-Furs Sable wrap
Glamourous business with humble beginnings
It’s been a glamorous, and fun, journey for Salyers, a minor celebrity in her own right before founding Fabulous-Furs. A Northern Kentucky native, she wrote a syndicated newspaper column for 17 years on fashion sewing. A national television show and video series followed.
Long a part of the fashion industry, Salyers decided she wanted her own fur. She saved up some money and decided to buy a full-length mink. On the way to Cincinnati to purchase it in 1988, she heard a news item on the Paul Harvey radio show that stopped her cold.
It was about a company skinning cats to make “mink” teddy bears. A cat owner, Salyers was shocked, and decided she couldn’t wear the fur of another animal.
“I was on my way to buy a coat, and I’d never thought of it that way. What if it were my cats skinned alive and turned into this stupid coat? Then it becomes something different,” she said.
Salyers instead made her own faux fur coat, and no one could see a difference. Eventually, she decided to share her skills and creativity, which led to the 1989 creation of Fabulous-Furs. It started as a kit company, where women would buy complete kits to make their own fur coats.
It wasn’t long until culture changed, and many women were no longer sewing. So Fabulous-Furs evolved into a ready-to-wear business. The company distinguished itself — then and now — with the quality of the material it used for its furs.
“If you had a faux fur (in the ’80s), it looked like a bathroom rug. There was a reason faux fur had a stigma attached to it, but that is definitely not true today. Because we’re sold in Saks, we’re sold in Nieman’s, W Hotels,” she says.
Furs are Covington made, internationally worn
Salyers still designs most of the company’s items, which include jackets and coats for women and girls, hats, scarves, gloves, vests and even fur-lined sweatshirts. The looks range from realistic looking faux coyote, mink, leopard or chinchilla full-length coats, to fun and trendy plum, ruby and sapphire dyed short jackets.
The company cuts, sews, packages and distributes most of its inventory from Covington. Fabulous-Furs call center is also on site. It employs about 50, ramping up to 100 during the busy season from October to February. She has a retail shop in Covington, but the majority of furs are sold through catalogs and online.
The company’s signature items are its throws, rugs and pillows, little luxuries that are warm and soft that don’t break the bank. For instance, their top priced luxury throws are priced at $329. A similar throw made from animal fur can cost around $1,500. And unlike animal fur, Salyers pieces are machine washable.
“What’s not to love!” she says.
Indeed. Fur coats are something even today associated with luxury and class. And now, Salyers says there’s no reason to kill animals for fur to have classy look and feel. In fact, in most cases, faux fur is now preferred, she says.
“It makes you feel happy. It’s fabulous; it’s kind of a fantasy. You feel so wonderful when you put it on. That’s we do at trade shows. We have mirrors there, and people try things on. They say, ‘Wow. look at me. I can’t believe this is me!”