Fair Financier of Frocks Begin Business with Nation’s Most Prominent Women as Her Financial Backers

This is the fourth article in April of the School for Housewives 1903 series published on Apr 26, 1903, and is an article on Harman Brown as she ventures into millinery.

School for Housewives – Fair Financier of Frocks Begin Business with Nation’s Most Prominent Women as Her Financial Backers

A fair financier of frocks and frills has made her appearance in New York. Within the last few days social and financial circles have been much interested by the appearance of a new prospectus announcing the incorporating of the business of a woman of distinction – Miss Harman Brown.

Through her financiering “millinery preferred” may yet have its trading corner on ‘Change. Nothing is more likely, since Miss Brown has formed a profit-sharing dressmaking and millinery corporation. That bonnets and gowns should be the background of the first feminine trust seems eminently proper.

Six years ago, when Miss Harman Brown went into the millinery business, the event created a stir, as she belongs to one of New York’s best families, her grandfather having been Stewart Brown, the founder of the international banking house of Brown Brothers, and her father, William Harman-Brown, one of the originators of the “Gold Room,” the parent of the Stock Exchange. This is her story of her business career:


The first scene of my adventure into trade was in the upper floors of a former livery stable, just off Fifth Avenue and well known to a fashionable set of women.

After two years the millinery business had so grown that the floor of a building in Thirty-third Street was taken, and here the business became famous and sent out lines to most of the leading cities and prominent winter resorts.


Last October I added dressmaking to the activities already flourishing, millinery and neckwear, with so immediate a success that I realized the necessity for more commodious quarters. With the fact of the increased trade cam the idea of extending the scope of the business, and the present plan of incorporating the business was made.

Early in February of this year I moved into an entire building just off Fifth Avenue, and had the same remodeled and decorated in a most attractive manner.

Once settled in the new house the prospectus of the intended corporation was sent out, and the responses in the form of subscriptions for stock came in the form of subscriptions for stock came in from an interesting variety of sources, representing social, financial and philanthropic interests. The latter class are greatly interested in the plan for profit sharing which is to be put into effect when the corporation has been running for a year.


This subject is one great interest to me, as I was interested in questions of social economy long before going into trade, and now see the opportunity of establishing a plan which has been most carefully worked out by me from my actual experiences with labor and business methods.

The plan has met with the strongest expressions of approval from men of distinction.

The plan which will be adopted in arranging for the sharing of the profits with employees is to issue annually to such of the employees of the company as shall have been in its employ for a specified time, or as shall for other reasons seem to the directors to deserve it, certain profit-sharing contracts or debentures. These debentures shall not be transferable and at meetings of the corporation, and ill expressly run for only one calendar year. They will be so drawn as to entitle the holders to a certain specified share of the net profits after paying dividends on the preferred stock, or a certain proportion of the net profits after they shall have reached a specified sum, the employees’ portion increasing as the profits resulting for their work increase.

If they held stock they would have a vote at meetings, and the stock being negotiable security, they could sell it; and they could also retain possession of it after their connection with the company had been severed for any reason. The profit-sharing debenture plan, it seems, will wed them more closely to the interests of the company.

To open the corporation the preferred stock is being sold at par, with a guaranteed divided of seven percent. Among my subscribers are Mrs. J. Plerpont Morgan, Mrs. Robert Olyphant, Mrs. Edward King, Mrs. Casimer de Coppet, Miss Julia Marlowe, Mrs. E. Hoffman Miller, whose names indicate financial faith in the enterprise.

Miss Brown proposes to call semi-annual meetings of stockholders, at which the latest models will be shown, and the business of the company discussed by men of distinction in profit sharing, etc.

Marion Harland

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