Tales of 3 Textile Entrepreneurs

The inspiraton to start a new business can come from anywhere. In the case of Donna Salyers, it was a passion for shifting the status quo. For Margo Petitti, it was not exactly planned and more organic. And with entrepreneur Tracy Slocum, the word destiny comes to mind. I met all of these women at trade shows last year and was duly impressed with the goods and their focus. No matter the seed, these three women have built very different businesses that keep people (and in some cases, animals) stylishly warm and cozy.


As faux fur legend has it, Donna Salyers was on her way to buy a mink coat when she heard a radio broadcast about animal cruelty. She shifted gears right there and realized that good fashion should not equal bad treatment of animals. It was 1988; PETA’s monumental D.C. music festival put the organization’s mission on the pop culture map. Donna made a prototype faux fur coat and sold it as a sewing kit. A few celebs took note, and then more. She launched ready to wear coats and accessories in 1995. Helen Gurley Brown was a customer, and Fabulous-Furs popularity grew from there, gracing many a news article, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Editions, movies, TV wardrobes, etc. The home collection includes throws, pillows, throw rugs and custom bedding.


Margo’s story might sound fabricated but it’s not. Daughter makes her father a patchwork scarf for Christmas out of woolen swatches she rescued from a discarded sample book. Father gets so many compliments on handmade scarf that it sparks an idea. Margo Petitti takes a leave of absence from RISD and starts a business making scarves, pocket squares, pillows and throws out of the finest woolens, silks, and shirting fabrics from Italy. Margo operates her business from a mill building in Falls RIver, MA and also from Italy.


With the story of Pretty Rugged, it seems like destiny played a role in the creation of Tracy Slocum’s plush gear. The great-great granddaughter of Captain Joshua Slocum, the first man to sail around the world alone, Tracy, also a boating devotee, developed a waterproof and windproof blanket that would keep her and others warm on the water. Luxurious faux fur on one side and repellant RuggedTex® on the other, Tracy’s blankets and throws (for humans and pets — Oprah deemed the small pet blankets one of her Favorite Things for ‘18) provide glam protection anywhere, and feature a monogrammable zipper pocket for safekeeping of keys, wallet, and phone.