Covey of Quail
March 8, 2010
Ranchers and outdoorsman who need a high-quality silk scarf to keep their neck warm and the cold winter wind away while they check cows can order one that is made in Wyoming.
Clark, Wyo., couple Mel and Connie King, make and sell the high-quality, fine silk scarves through their own home-based company Covey of Quail. Along with the scarves, the couple also sell a line of jackets and vests from Schaefer Outfitter and Coronado Leather. “The Coronado jacket has conceal carry pockets, which makes it unique,” King explained of the line. The scarves, which Connie refers to as “Wild Rags,” are made of the finest of silk.
King has made silk scarves and women’s clothing since 1982. “I am a wildlife biologist, and I originally thought about being an ornithologist, which is the study of birds,” she explained. “When I started this business, I came up with the Covey of Quail name because I was dying silk and it reminded me of the fluidness of the style in the 1980s, and the vision of the fluid movement of a quail flying.”
During that time, King made women’s clothing from silk. Most of her items were loose-fitting, flowing tops that were popular in the 1980s. “The tops I made really lent themselves to hand dying,” she explained. “I had a teacher in Casper, George Vlastos, who taught me batik, and I carried that into making garments.”
When Connie married Mel, she said the economy turned and it became difficult to make the small business profitable, so she returned to being a wildlife biologist. Several years later, when Mel retired, Connie decided to make some scarves locally, and when she started receiving orders for the scarves, Covey of Quail was back in business. “Because of my husband, the scarves I make have a Western flair, which has become quite popular,” she said.
Although the scarves are popular among ranchers throughout the United States, King said the scarves have also been purchased by the SASS (Single Action Shooting), the Cowboy Mounted Shooters, dude ranches and people who just appreciate the western lifestyle.
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Although many of the 4,000 scarves she makes each year are custom designed, King also sells the scarves to many tack shops throughout the United States, in addition to other Western and rodeo venues. Customers can also order scarves from her directly through her Web site.
King said some of her more unique custom designs have been hand-dyed scarves for the groom and groomsman to match the dress of the bride and bridesmaids for western weddings.
King also makes custom brands for ranches on the scarves by hand dying the brand onto the scarf. “My silk is quite heavy, but it still cannot be embroidered,” she explained. “So I hand dye the ranch brands onto the scarves.”
King has many different styles of fabric available. Some of the fabric has Western motif, while other fabrics have polka dots, flowers or paisley. She uses a special sewing machine to sew the heavy silk.
“Once someone places an order, I can usually have the scarf to them within a week,” she explained. “However, they may want to plan on a month, near Christmas time when I have many orders to fill.”
King said making scarves is still new and exciting to her, although she has made them for close to 20 years. “I love working with fabric,” she explained. “I love the texture of fabric and the new patterns and colors I receive all the time.”
The couple travels to the NFR, Black Hills Stock Show, Cowboy Poetry meetings and state horse expos to market the scarves. “We also donate quite a few scarves for rodeo clubs and ranch roping groups for them to use as prizes for their various competitions,” she said.
Someday, King said she hopes to make time to design and create women’s clothing again. “I am really hoping to make some one-of-a-kind Western clothing,” she explained. “I have a one of a kind silk Western shirt that I created, and I am hoping to go back to some of my original ideas for women’s clothing, and use some of my own designs,” she added. Some of King’s own clothing designs include women’s jackets and skirts out of natural fibers, and some silk broomstick-type skirts. “I also have a design for a Western theme jacket with a twist,” she said.
The Kings can be reached at (307) 645-3164 or through their Web site at http://www.CoveyOfQuail.com.