Mel Birnkrant's
THE NEW YORK TIMES, December 1964
Continue to NEXT ARTICLE                          Return to INDEX
          This half page in The New York Times, from December 1964, was, without a doubt, the most important article of my life. It resulted in a Fateful call from Harry Kislevitz, the owner of Colorforms.  And that single phone call, altered the course of Destiny.  Up until that time, Eunice and I had been struggling to succeed in our own small business, “Boutique Fantastique.”  The article, more or less, explained what we were doing.  It was, certainly, an off-beat way to make a living.

We started out in Greenwich Village, in 1960, with a two week old baby, in a sub-let apartment, five floors up.  I got a job, my first and only, working for a display firm on 19th Street, called, Austin Display, where I earned a salary of one hundred dollars a week.  Six months later, we moved to a huge illegal loft on 26th Street.  From there, I continued to work for Austin Display.  But, this time, at home, for the same salary.  I brought my work in to Austin every week. They trusted me.  One year later, with Austin’s blessing, we began “Boutique Fantastic.”

          Now, four years later, we found ourselves in a new loft on Lexington Avenue, with a rent controlled apartment, just around the corner on 28th Street.  The business was growing, or so it seemed.  But, because the things we made were made by hand, we could not sell them to giant chain stores, and thus, our customers were limited to shops like Bergdorf Goodman, and Henry Bendel, places I had never heard about before.  Growing up in Detroit Michigan, names like these, were unknown to me. 

By this time, Boutique Fantastique had three employees, three young ladies, formerly of Austin Display, who worked with me, every day, while Eunice did the bookkeeping and housekeeping, and cared for our two daughters, in the apartment, right next door.  We had also acquired, an accountant, workman’s compensation, liability insurance, lots of supplies and equipment, and a pair of impressive reps in 225 Fifth Avenue, the Gift Building.  I was even considering purchasing a soda vending machine.
 
The only problem was: when we added it all up, compiling gross income, less expenses, we realized that, in the end, I was still making one hundred dollars a week!  A few days before Christmas 1964, this article appeared:
         Up to this time, as proprietor of Boutique Fantastique, I had been spending two weeks a year designing new items.  Then, I passed the next fifty weeks manufacturing them, buying supplies, packing and shipping, and cleaning up!  I don’t mean “cleaning up” financially; I mean cleaning up the lavatory!  All the dirty work, anything I thought would be too demeaning to ask the girls to do, I did myself. 

Now, thanks to the New York Times, Destiny, in the form of Harry Kislevitz, called me!  He offered me the opportunity to design toys, full time.  And, suddenly, I was on Cloud Nine!  No more packing, shipping, sweeping, cleaning; henceforth, there would be naught, but dreaming!  And to enable me to indulge in this fantasy, Colorforms would advance me the sum of two hundred dollars a week, which, eventually, was to be deducted from the vast royalties that Harry assured me I would begin earning, overnight, most likely!  This sure sounded Incredible to me! Which is what it proved to be!

Nonetheless, four years later, thanks to the Outer Space Men, I was able to pay Colorforms back the money they’d advanced me.  And with the little that was left over, we put down a deposit on this house, where we have lived for half a century .