In the depths of the Great Depression, an ambitious young immigrant formed a partnership with the Vocation Alliance Bureau to manufacture powder puffs in Manhattan.
They called the company Victoria VAB, and it provided employment for the handicapped at a time when millions of people were unemployed and the nation's economic future was in doubt.
Seventy years later, Victoria Vogue, the successor to the company Sam Pomerantz founded, is the largest manufacturer of powder puffs in the United States.
Victoria Vogue supplies cotton velour puffs to high-end cosmetics makers such as Estee Lauder, Elizabeth Arden and Chanel.Victoria Vogue puffs smoothed greasepaint on the faces of actors in dressing rooms from Broadway to Hollywood. When William Inge's play "Picnic" opened on Broadway in 1953, a company history says, Victoria Vogue products were used as props. In Arnold Schwarzenegger's 1996 thriller "Eraser," Vanessa Williams gazes into a compact emblazoned with the "VV" logo.
Victoria Vogue's 65 employees make powder puffs from scratch. Patented looms convert four or five varieties of cotton yarn into broadcloth material. In a process similar to those used in garment factories, the material is cut and sewn to produce cotton pads for makeup compacts.
As early as 1950, when Harry Truman was president and Victoria Vacuseal powder puffs sold for 15 cents, the company began using automated cutting presses. A few years later it built the first machines that could mass-produce double-velour puffs using the industry's first nonsewn bonding method.
One of the industry leaders of its day, Victoria Vogue products could be found in Saks Fifth Avenue, Marshall Field's and Macy's. It had a showroom on Fifth Avenue.
The company began dyeing its own velour in the 1960s, when it developed satin-topped puffs for pressed-powder cosmetics. With the return to high-glamour cosmetics in the 1980s, Victoria Vogue began offering synthetic latex sponges to apply liquid foundations.
"The company was founded on strong personal ethics and a family feeling," she said. "Around here, everybody knows everybody's name. There's very definitely a family feeling here."