When I told my family that Laura and I were starting a pajamas business for hot flashes and night sweats they were as cordial as they could be on the outside; while scratching their heads on the inside. You see I’m a fashion-challenged, risk-averse, non-seamstress, marketing type.
I get my lack of seamstress skills honestly. Unlike Laura’s mom who handmade her clothes, my mom’s idea of hemming my pants was to “roll them up.” And for special occasions she’d reluctantly use that hemming tape, Stitch Witchery, and an iron. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. When my daughter needed her Girl Scout patches sewn on her Brownie vest, my husband had to do it.
Textiles, however, really are in my blood. Great-grandpa Albano, Demetrio, had a sportswear and pajamas business in Brooklyn, NY. I thought the only thing I inherited from the Italian relatives was a love of pasta and red wine and that infamous Italian temper.
I never met Great-grandpa Albano. But, since delving into the fashion business, I started asking questions. Demetrio Albano was in the clothing business from the time he arrived in the U.S. in 1907 until he died in 1955. In the 1930s, he and my great-grandma Salvatrice opened a clothing factory in the basement of their apartment building in Brooklyn, called the Alabama Sportswear Manufacturing Company. The name was an accident. He wanted it to be called Albano Sportswear, but the person registering the business, misunderstood his thick accent and thought he said Alabama. They never changed the name.
Before marrying my great-grandpa, Salvatrice was a seamstress in Sicily. My great-grandparents and all 12 of their kids worked in the business. In Demetrio’s application for naturalization in 1912, he listed his occupation as “Presser”.
He often sent children’s pajamas back to his hometown of Eboli, Italy for those in need. After Eboli was destroyed during World War II, he and two of his children sailed to Eboli and passed out pajamas to children. The grateful residents even arranged for a parade in their honor.
I doubt we’ll ever have a parade in our honor. But we can promise you we will also be giving back to those in need. More to come. Ciao!