It seems not everyone has given up on one of the nation's most well-known celebrity chefs. A North Carolina-based home furnishings company that markets Paula Deen's furniture line is sticking with her. This announcement comes after a plethora of companies have dropped the star.
The High Point Enterprise reports that Universal Furniture International will continue to market the Paula Deen Home Collection, an act that is surprising considering the negative press that some companies carrying her products have seemingly feared.
In this publicity image released by NBC, celebrity chef Paula Deen appears on NBC News' "Today" show, wednesday, June 26, 2013 in New York. Deen dissolved into tears during a "Today" show interview Wednesday about her admission that she used a racial slur in the past. The celebrity chef, who had backed out of a "Today" interview last Friday, said she was not a racist and was heartbroken by the controversy that began with her own deposition in a lawsuit. Deen has been dropped by the Food Network and as a celebrity endorser by Smithfield Foods. Credit: AP
Deen has been under fire since the revelation earlier this year of a legal deposition in which she admitted under oath to having, in the past, used the N-word. Many companies have dropped the famed chef since the deposition became public. Naturally this has led to negative press and an effort by many companies to separate themselves from the controversy.
But Jeff Scheffer with Universal Furniture says he feels bad for Deen, as the star he knows is not the one who has been portrayed in the media recently. In fact, Scheffer proclaimed, "We feel terrible for Paula," noting that his company has pity on the former Food Network lightening rod.
"We have observed her as being kind and one who treats those around her with respect," the business leader wrote in his letter to retailers. "Yes, she has acknowledged saying some hurtful things but she has also apologized, and we accept that. We also feel equally dismayed for those hurt by Paula’s remarks, which for certain do not represent our own diverse culture and beliefs at Universal."
A screen shot from Universal Furniture International's website. Paula Deen's collection is among the first items that site visitors see.
So, Scheffer's not following his fellow business leaders who have shunned her.
In the letter, he said his company accepts Deen's apologies for her previous comments. He also noted that part of the decision is based on retail customer feedback.
"During the last couple of weeks, we have heard from many of you expressing your passionate support for Paula, urging us to 'hang in there,'" the letter added.
Others, too, have stepped up to support Deen. "Butter for Paula" is a campaign urging companies to, once again, endorse the chef. And in June, magazine publisher Hoffman Media decided to keep her as well; her magazine, Cooking with Paula Deen, will continue.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story has been updated.
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