DOUGH RAY ME: At first glance, donuts seem like a pretty straightforward business – selling fresh, colorful, circular confections that appeal to the masses with quick turnaround times. The specialty is also a bit like the fashion industry, as Steven Klein, co-owner of Dough Donuts, can attest.
Having spent years making private-label sportswear on Seventh Avenue before diving into donuts, he understands the ins and outs of fashion, collaborations and drops. Last month, Dough provided the 100 turquoise and white “X”-shaped donuts for the launch of “Sex and the City” actress Sarah Jessica Parker’s wine brand, Invivo X, SJP. “What happened was the PR company called us in a panic – as usual with a lot of these PR companies – to say, ‘Can you do it? and I said of course. They gave us two or three days. Then our chefs have to mix the colors with our icings to match them,” Klein said.
Dough also sent a “Happy Birthday” wish to Jimmy Fallon with donuts and letter-shaped donuts for the staff and production crew of his late-night talk show. “He’s a sweet tooth, so we sent him donuts and our new cookies. They enjoyed it immensely, which is great for us.
Dough potentially wants to use some IMG talent to promote a protein-rich donut that’s still in development. Unfazed that models should be watching their weight instead of gaining weight, Klein said, “Listen, the food is hot today. Also, depending on the product, celebrities and athletes will associate with something good,” Klein said. “I can also talk to fashion companies [on their level.] And we make a great presentation. He added that Dough started creating Instagram-friendly donut walls at special events several years ago.
Friendly with Ivan Bart, president of IMG Models and Fashion, Klein described him as “a big donut.” Dismissing the idea that it would seem like a professional hazard for an image maker, who works with legions of professional models, Klein said, “He’s been a fan of ours. Sometimes we organize an event with him or sometimes we do a tasting with his staff.
Seeking to create a Prosecco-flavored donut, Klein reached out to Bart, who arranged a call with Christie Brinkley and her agent. The model helped develop Bellissima Prosecco. “Christie loved the idea. I just need to find the time,” Klein said, adding that a few months ago, Dough created custom yellow donuts for a Vera Wang libation launch. (The designer once said that the night before the shows, her design director’s husband brought donuts, which became a ritual due to superstition.)
The connection with Vera Wang led to the making of three Proper No. Twelve Irish Whiskey donuts for a special event with Conor McGregor, who has a stake in the company. Dough also sent two boxes of donuts to Kim Kardashian of the “Saturday Night Live” team and designer Alexander Wang before her appearance on the show last year, Klein said.
Lauren B and Jennifer Fisher are two of the jewelry companies that have also tapped Dough. As fashion dictates, samples are required for the dough. “We get everyone to taste our donuts before we agree to do anything to get us in the same ballpark,” Klein said.
Even though Klein’s Seventh Avenue experience was rooted in affordable clothing, he speaks the language of fashion and understands the need for speed.
“I work with so many PR companies that there’s a relationship. As soon as they have an idea, they call us and say, ‘What do you think? And I’ll say, ‘OK, how much long will you give me?’ “Said Klein.
A Tom Ford wedding ring is high on Dough’s wish list. In an InStyle interview last year, the designer said he ate at least three times a day and counted donuts as a food group. He also attributed the fact that he maintained the same weight he had in his twenties to the “doughnut diet”.
When asked if he had ever connected with Ford, as expected, Klein replied, “No, I’m going to work on Tom Ford.”