Westchester County's Most Accomplished Women Entrepreneurs
Meet 28 of the county's most successful, move innovative, most respected business women.
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Outfitter of the Ultra-Fashionable
Mary Jane Denzer
Founder and Owner, Mary Jane Denzer Design Boutique
Since 1979, White Plains resident Mary Jane Denzer has been dressing the most influential and fashionable women in Westchester—and beyond—for everything from charity balls to meetings of the board. After more than 30 years, she is positively revered as the high priestess of the stylish set. Her handpicked ensembles have made appearances at the Oscars and the Emmys, at lunch with the Queen of England, and at the wedding of Prince Albert of Monaco, and her devoted customers include CiCi (Mrs. James Earl) Jones and Indra Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo.
Denzer has always loved fashion. Her grandmother designed and sewed all her clothes when she was young, and she got her first job in the industry—running a beach club’s summer boutique—at the age of 14. After stints at Saks, Diner’s Club, and Bergdorf’s, Denzer took the plunge, opening a shop in Mamaroneck with another woman, Maureen Moran, in 1979. “The first day we
opened, I sold out of everything and had to reorder,” she says. “That was a pretty clear picture that I was on my way.” The following year she went out on her own, launching her eponymous shop on East Post Road in White Plains. In 1996, with a small staff, she moved to more sumptuous quarters—designed by the same architect who did the Rodeo Drive boutique for Dior—and tripled her staff.
Her first year, Denzer says, garnered $650,000 in annual sales. Projected for 2011? Close to $3 million. The numbers add up quickly when you’re talking about the exclusive designer labels—mostly couture—that Denzer favors, including Valentino, Oscar de la Renta, Emilio Pucci, Lanvin, and Azzedien Alaia. When the store first opened, the average purchase price per visit was between $300 and $400. Today, it’s closer to $2,000. One woman recently spent $20,000 to outfit herself for the new season. In the past, Denzer says, “I had people spending seventy thousand dollars on a spring wardrobe in one day.”
Ah yes, that pesky economic downturn. Did it affect Denzer’s bottom line? “Of course,” she says. “But the luxury market is one market that’s surviving."
So what’s next? Two weeks ago, Denzer, who is in her seventies, sold a small percentage of her business to the store’s manager, Anastasia Cucinella, who, Denzer says, “hopes to keep this business going forever.”
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