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Florida Fun Fashions: 1939-1940

Jeanne at the FF shop 1939Jeanne's mother (since J.H. had died in 1937 of a heart attack) kept her from going job hunting in New York because she thought Jeanne was still too young. She instead, came up with a great alternative --to open a small dress shop in Clearwater, Florida, which she offered to finance. Jeanne was very excited about it, and they named it, "Florida Fun Fashions".

By then it was just the two of them, mother and daughter (as Bob was in the Navy and Marre had just been married and was living in Florida). They worked diligently getting "Florida Fun Fashions" ready for it's grand opening in the autumn of 1939. Mrs. Sanford, enjoyed experimenting and solving decorating dilemmas, and she shared her expertise with Jeanne. They had a lot of fun getting the shop together and were proud and ready when the doors were finally first opened.

BarbaraThe 1920's mannequin, nicknamed "Barbara", came with the shop and was the source of a funny incident. Jeanne was more than happy to employ her, but she had a fashion problem: she had the flat-chested, flapper's "boyish look" and needed an update. With Jeanne's many talents she didn't see any problem with 'augmenting' her figure with some plaster, so Jeanne spread it on. What she didn't realize was with the weight of plaster, it needed to be anchored on something like wire or nails, and Barbara's boobs came crashing off. They all had quite a laugh! (Barbara's 2nd pair were well secured.)

Ruth Elliot"Jeanne herself had made up several items of sportswear to display to her first customers. "I still think some of them were cute," she says. "I remember a one-piece play suit that would still be good today, I believe." But the bulk of her stock had been supplied through a professional buyer in New York who, as usual in such circumstances, had made her own selections from the city's wholesale market."--Excerpt from Young Faces In Fashion by Beryl Williams.

Friends like Ruth Elliott and "Weedy" Taylor (of the Taylor family citrus growers/ ) modeled Jeanne's designs and helped in the shop. (Weedy's gown was called "Gone With the Wind".) They had some wonderful fashion shows and the customers crowded in to see them.

Weedy Taylor
Weedy Taylor
Jeanne Sanford
Florida Fun Fashion Business card

The dress shop did very well, especially Jeanne's fashions. She had her designs displayed on the walls for customers to choose from. She did get orders for these designs, but was limited by the lack of time some of the vacationers had. They couldn't stay for fittings, they needed things right away. The real experience that Jeanne learned was in listening to what real woman wanted. The customers came from all over the world and she asked many questions of them. She found out their likes and dislikes. What they felt good in, and why one dress was better than another. She listened and these would be her future customers.

Jeanne found that not all of the buyer's choices were good ones and once she even accompanied her to New York City. They went to many showrooms and Jeanne made the decisions about what to buy. She knew what would sell in Clearwater.

The NY trip made Jeanne even more anxious to become a designer and create the pieces herself. She didn't want to open her own factory, however, without a wholesale set-up, she couldn't make the quantity she needed to make a profit. She loved the shop but it was only a stepping stone to where she wanted to be. Jeanne and her mother closed up the shop after about a year. They went back to the Pennsylvania farm.

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