January 26, 2012

Olga Nightgowns and Vintage Lingerie by Sweet Cherry Vintage

The Olga brand was started by Olga Erteszek, a war refugee from Poland, who came to the U.S. with her husband in 1939. With only $10 in her pocket and the skills she had learned from her corsetiere mother, Olga began a business making lace garter belts on her kitchen table with a rented sewing machine.

Since then Olga has grown to become one of the leading intimate apparel brands in North America. Known for superior design and garments that flatter all figure types, Olga has strived to maintain the personalized touch of its founder in each garment.Olga Erteszek along with her husband Jan (1913–1986), a lawyer, came to the United States in 1941. Fleeing Poland and the invading Nazi army, the young couple left their family and most possessions. After emigrating to Russia and then Japan, they both eventually secured a visa and landed in California.

As the daughter of a corsetiere, Olga worked in a sweatshop making girdles and brassieres, and Jan found work in sales. One day she spotted a woman on a trolley with hosiery rolled to her knees. She said to Jan that it was a shame that women didn't have at least some bit of finery to hold up their stockings, something to make them feel feminine no matter how severe the sacrifices or how limited their funds were during the war effort. Jan encouraged her to create something herself to facilitate the woman, so with a $5.00 sewing machine rental and $5.00 of material, she got started.

Olga sewed a dozen or so lace-trimmed garter belts that Jan sold to the foundations buyer at an elite department store. And this started an industry that blossomed to employ 2,000 women. Enduring from the 1940s to today, Olga is known as America’s leading maker of fashionable lingerie, sleepwear and loungewear. At one time, Olga directed a team of 17 designers who were dedicated to change the look of women’s confining “unspeakables” to fashion pieces that shaped the bust, smoothed the tummy and enticed the gentlemen. Jan found his calling as the head marketing and sales director. It was Jan who insisted that Olga herself appear in the advertising under the tag line, “Behind every Olga there really is an Olga”.

Holding the woman's record for patents at 28, Olga brought women many pleasing, comfortable and fashionable undergarments. In addition to winning many industry awards, Olga and her husband were honored for their community and humanitarian work. In 1985, they received the California Industrialist of the Year Award for lifetime achievement. Olga was one of the first businesses to initiate profit sharing for employees, and in 1967 it became a publicly owned corporation valued at $67 million. In 1984, Olga was ranked as a Fortune 500 company and one of the best 100 companies to work for in America.

Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Be sure to see many gorgeous OLGA gowns here at Sweet Cherry Vintage Lingerie:
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