Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Women Who Defined Us - Nettie Rosenstein

In my lifetime, the changes in society are beyond what I could have ever imagined as a teenage girl.  Now in my late (very late:)) forties, I look back at the women who cut the way for us to succeed.  They were not whiners, they were not looking for someone to do their job for them - they were tough and motivated women who went against societal norms to build businesses that would stand the test of time and change the way the women were viewed from that point on.  They were new immigrants to a country that didn't allow women to vote and where men controlled both the garment and jewelry industries.
My personal favorite of these trailblazers was Nettie Rosenstein.
The brooch above is one that I sold some time ago.  The details and design were just amazing...if you ever come across any of her figural flower them and run, they are stunning in every way!

Nettie Rosenstein (Rosencrans) emigrated to NYC from Salzburg, Austria in the 1890's.  By 1916, she was operating a custom dressmaking business out of her home.  Remember, there was no financial backing and no government loans available for women owned businesses...this was good old fashioned hard work, dedication and financial creativity.  In 1921, she employed 50 dressmakers and moved her business to
 E. 56th St, where it was more at the heart of NYC's booming fashion industry.  Can you imagine!...a struggling female immigrant who's style, creativity and overall savvy was becoming a top name in woman's fashion, how difficult for her that must have been!! She was instrumental in the concept of the "little black dress" and by the 1920's her fashions were sold in only the finest department stores.  Decades of success followed and Nettie died at the age of 90 in 1980.

To view Nettie Rosenstein pieces on Ruby Lane (including a few of my own) below

One example of what a young woman's role model should be and there are many others from the same time period.  Hattie Carnegie comes to mind...but that's another post.

When doing your research on these wonderful women...go to the source that looks to the true historical value of the biography.  The information gained above is from The Jewish Women's Archive at 
with credit to the original author who supplied much of the information in Nettie Rosenstein's NY Times Obituary.
Harriman, Margret Case. “Very Terrific, Very Divine.” New Yorker (October 19, 1940): 28–34; Obituary. NYTimes, March 15, 1980; Steele, Valerie. Women of Fashion (1991); WWWIA 7.

Thanks for reading:)



  1. A true trailblazer is isn't well known enough today.

    1. Thank you so much for commenting and I couldn't agree more!

  2. What an enterprising and industrious woman, at a time when the odds were certainly not in her favor. Her jewelry is beautiful. Thank you for the excellent information and links.

    1. Thanks so much for commenting Ann! These women really amaze me. Helena Rubenstein was another very interesting story, I'll dig that one up as well. Thanks again!