Donna Salyers makes faux fabulous
By Sara Celi
Video by Madison Schmidt
Running any company and making it work is a feat, but try doing it for thirty years. Then, try taking the business global, kicking off a revolution in the process. It happened right here in Greater Cincinnati, and it came out of the mind of Donna Salyers, founder and CEO of Fabulous Furs. You've probably seen her jackets wrapped around celebrities and featured in glossy magazines next to luxury cars in exotic locations. Her throws adorn sofas in the world's most well-heeled homes, and her trendy boot toppers are a hit with those who want to up their fashion game. Fabulous Furs is synonymous with quality faux fur, and a gold standard for affordable fashion.
Donna did it all from her office in Covington, KY. Cincinnati People recently caught up with her during a busy fall day, and asked her a few questions.
Cincinnati People: Where is Fabulous Furs right now as a company?
Donna Salyers: Fabulous Furs is 30 years old. I started it in my basement, and today we are the foremost name in fake fur. (laughs) It's because we started thirty years ago. We got a jump start. Now, everyone has decided that fake fur is a really good idea. Well, it's about time!
CP: What was it like when you first started?
DS: It was in my basement, and I had nothing, not even knowledge about how to do this. I started selling a fake fur coat kit because I was a sewer. People would look at my stuff and cringe and say, "I don't do fake fur!" At the time, you had to overcome the stigma that it was something that nobody wanted. But I knew it could be good. And I knew because I ended up with a television show, and this was in the 1980s. I had to go to New York to do my TV show, and there I quickly realized that everyone is wearing a full-length fur, a mink coat, except me. We had no money, but I knew how to find fake fur. So, I made a fake fur coat, and people would stop me on the street in New York and say, "Wow, that is a dynamite coat!" And I never said that it was fake fur. I just said thank you. And I wore that coat until I hated it.
CP: And now you are doing all this?
DS: Yes, and that makes me the luckiest person in the world.
As we talked Donna took us on our a tour of her production, design, and marketing spaces. Each Fabulous Furs jacket is designed and made right in Covington, and she says that gives her a unique opportunity to keep track of quality and craftsmanship. It also inspires her. As we chatted, the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book arrived, and Donna excitedly found her fur among the holiday offerings. Even though the catalog has featured the brand before, Donna says it never gets old.
CP: We just had New York Fashion Week a month or so ago, in September, and fake fur was everywhere.
DS: The pendulum has swung, and there's a stigma against real fur. People realize you don't need to skin animals alive for a stupid coat. Fake fur is a fraction, it's more durable, it's warm, and about a third of the weight. It just make sense. Why not?
CP: Things go around when it comes fashion. What do you think is the biggest trend when comes to this sector?
DS: I think outlandish things, and pieces that are obviously fake. Purple coats, for example, leopard, lots of color, lots of things that are outrageously fun.
CP: What does that say about the era that we live in?
DS: I think it gives a person an outlet. It makes people happy, and that's what I love about it. Maybe its a little bit of a diversion, or a little bit of an escape for people. Everyone is so nasty right now to each other, but everyone can agree, it's great to look fabulous.
CP: So you're providing a moment of levity for people? Even while wearing fake fur?
DS: I love that. I love providing something that makes people smile and put it on, and makes them feel transported.
Cheers to many more decades of doing just that, living a life fabulously!