Lillian Vernon, the woman who built a catalog empire, passed away on Monday in New York. She was 88.
Vernon began her business in 1951 by selling personalized belts and handbags through classified ads in Seventeen Magazine. Her mail-order business grew from there, where her niche became affordable monogrammed items sourced from around the world. In a time when Sears was the major player in the catalog space, she monogrammed her name onto American coffee tables.
A marketing pioneer, Vernon was the first to release seasonal catalogs for Easter and Halloween and popularized the gift-with-purchase. In 1987, hers became the first woman-owned publicly traded company on the American Stock Exchange.
- Lillian Vernon, Creator of a Bustling Catalog Business, Dies at 88 | New York Times