Tuesday, November 22, 2011


530 Seventh Avenue in the heart of the Garment District of New York City.

When Marion and I decided to start our own company ,she felt very strongly that we should be in the 530 Seventh Avenue Building. It is the young designer building next to the 550 Seventh Avenue building that host most of  the top designers like Oscar De La Renta .

Marion Milenovic

As my other love in life is opera- it was exciting to know the old Metropolitan Opera was located diagonally across from this 530 Seventh Avenue building .A  friend told me that he remembered standing in his office in 550 Seventh Avenue  looking down into the auditorium of the Metropolitan Opera after they removed the roof and started breaking down the walls.

The old Metropolitan Opera taken from Broadway and 39th street.
550 Seventh Avenue in the background.

The same block today- 39th street and 7th Avenue NYC .

We wanted a easy name for the company .My own name was too difficult to spell and pronounce.
We wanted it to be easy to remember . As we both  loved opera the name of the Puccini character Tosca came up. We loved Tosca as she personifies a woman that is an independent  working woman and a star in her field. A opera diva that  loved her man so much so killed to save his life .
A very modern woman - not a wall flower at all - so Tosca became our muse.

Maria Callas as TOSCA.

The rent was high so we tried to find someone to share their  space with us. One woman agreed for us to share and the day before we were to move in she left a late night message for me -drunk out of her mind- that is might not be such a good idea!  I had to cancel the  movers and took a very long walk down the river to sort out my head .We have not even opened the doors and we had problems already!
Eventually we met up with a Nira that had  a beaded collection and we moved in with her.She two collections complimented each other so it was a good marriage. Nira moved out about two years later and we stayed on. We have been here for 9 years.

Peter, a Chinese man who was a contractor ,gave me a space to work in his factory .I  left Chrysoula and started working on the new collection from there. He also sewed the garments  for me. We decided to work with a contractor and not employ sewers to work directly with us .In this way we kept the overhead low. We then could pay piece work and not a full salary. I took a loan on my credit card for $15,000.00 and bought the fabrics and paid Peter to sew it for me. I lived on bread and water for 6 months. Marion stayed on with Chrysoula for another few months. Chrysoula decided to close her business and get married. Luisa - Chrisoula's  supervisor - came to us for a few days a week after we opened .She wanted to retire so it suited us all.
At last Marion was free and we opened TOSCA NEW YORK  on September 1 2002.
 One of the top private shoppers promised us a lot of business.
Marion and I set her down and told her that the first rule of the new company is a 50% down payment on each order ,and before the garment leaves the premises, it must be paid in full. She was very upset about this. She would always charge her customer's 100% upfront,  plus  her commission. She  would take the money and play the stock market with it. She would then make the manufacturers wait for their money for months. She  owed Chrysoula a lot of money and she really had a problem getting paid. We did not want to run into  the same problem with her. Something like that that could put us out of business overnight. She was furious and refused to support us. This was a big blow , but we could not take that chance.
We moved on slowly. It was not easy. We were both full time on the payroll with a big rent to pay so we did have many sleepless nights. Waking up at 2:00 am in a cold sweat and having a panic attack it part of having your own business. One hopes it will get better, but every now and then it happens once again. As we were in the top price bracket, very few stores would buy the collection.
We concentrated on some day wear for private customers and then started a gown collection as well. The American women are very open to wear American designers and are not snobbish about it at all. Even if they wear Paris Couture, if the like a outfit they would order it. They have very high standards and as long as the clothes fit well and they are beautifully made -they are happy -and became regular customers.

Charlize Theron on the cover of the American Vogue.

We decided to design a collection with a "real woman" in mind  .So many designers design a collection for other designers or to impress Anna Wintour of " Vogue." We had to pay the rent so I could not design a dress that would be on a cover of a magazine being worn by an actress that gets the gown for free .We had to make money. We started listening to what women needed in their wardrobes.
This turned out to be the thing that made TOSCA NEW YORK stand out, and become successful.

For more information on TOSCA NEW YORK  look at our website at:-


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