Established in 1996, Fashion Angels Enterprises (formerly known as The Bead Shop) quickly earned a reputation for designing and manufacturing high quality tween girls’ products. “We’ve always treated this as a fashion business,” say diva sisters Goldi Miller and Myra Mouloudji, who together with Goldi’s husband Mark, all run the growing empire based in somewhat unlikely Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Goldi and Myra make a sojourn for fashion “scouting” (some would more honestly call it “shopping”) to New York, London, and Hong Kong a few times a year to see what’s hot in the fashion world and upcoming trends. “We are creating fashion that fits the trends we see in products that tweens and adults will enjoy and be able to afford.”
Fashion Angels was created from the Millers’ Goldi shops, of which they ultimately had 10 around the Midwest, including a flagship location on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue. These were high fashion stores that epitomized the word “boutique,” and where the Millers honed their strong sense and love of design, fashion, and style. The Goldi stores were so successful that mall landlords invited them to have kiosks with a small sampling of product, where they featured beads.
The Millers sold loose beads, and customers would select individual beads to make a special necklace or bracelet. Many customers asked for advice, ideas, or were in too much of a hurry to pick out so many beads one by one, so the Millers began packaging all the beads and string you needed to make a necklace or bracelet together in one simple box. They sold like crazy. “We thought to ourselves, ‘Beads are hot,’” says Mark Miller in his understated way.
They decided to try out beads on a bigger scale at the Waukesha Gift Show in Wisconsin. Goldi’s sister, Myra, along with their mother and grandmother all pitched in to hand-fill tiny vials with beads, making it truly a family affair. They made four appointments at four Milwaukee stores, and made sales at all of them on the spot.
The really big test was six months later when Goldi took her mother to Las Vegas to exhibit at the Hobby Industry of America show. Goldi thought it would be kind of a fun trip to exotic Las Vegas and a nice way to thank her mom for all her help the past few months. She didn’t regard the show or her participation as a newbie in it too seriously in retrospect.
After sleeping in a little late and having a leisurely breakfast, they wandered into the show. They saw a large cluster of people around a booth down the aisle and she wondered to herself who was creating such a stir. As they approached, Goldi realized with a thrill of incredulity that it was The Bead Shop’s un-staffed bead-festooned booth that was a sensation, and buyers were anxiously waiting for her to finally arrive to take orders.
“That’s when we decided to choose a path and go with The Bead Shop,” Mark says.
The Fashion Angels made their debut as a kit with the 4 Fashion Angels cardboard dolls, with fabric, clothing and accessory patterns, gems, buttons, and other trimmings to make a “gotta-have-it” clothing collection to dress the dolls. This modern day twist on paper dolls called Design a Heavenly Wardrobe quickly became the flagship in branding to The Bead Shop. The Fashion Angels brand became so strong that FAO Schwarz asked The Bead Shop to install a life-size Fashion Angels boutique in its hallmark Fifth Avenue store in 2006. That year, The Bead Shop switched their name to Fashion Angels Enterprises since the company began encompassing more than just beading kits.
The Fashion Angels Design a Heavenly Wardrobe was such a success that the owners saw the trend of fashion design as a hot trend for the tween market. They began making similar kits and activity books that armed girls with things like proper fashion terminology, croqui sketch sheets, pencils, design guides and more so they could sketch their own dream wardrobes and even explore the realm of make-up artistry, hair design, and custom t-shirt design for girls of all ages and skill levels.
In addition to the ever expanding Fashion Angels line, the company has held the license to make toys for Project Runway® since 2008. The owners took what they did best and put a spin on it that was runway-worthy and it proved to be a perfect match. With the success of this licensed line, 2011 has brought Fashion Angels into a partnership with Mattel from which they are licensing 3 properties: Barbie®, Hot Wheels® (the first boy line for the company), and the “hotter than hot” sensation, Monster High®. The Mattel items from Fashion Angels are hitting shelves this spring and summer.
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