The History of the Mary G: An Interview with Mary Gushée
Molly: Hi Mary! How are you and can you tell us where you are?
Mary: I am on the Cape where it is 52 degrees this morning Molly! So cool weather is headed your way very soon.
Molly: that sounds so nice. You’re a lucky lady to live in 2 beautiful places!
Mary: The Cape house is a new adventure for me. It belonged to my late sister-in-law and brother. They lived here from 1987 until they died and the house has many happy memories. I am very close to family here, so it is a place where I feel safe and connected especially in these times.
Molly: so today we are here to talk about the infamous Mary G, a non wrinkle and washable top that you developed in Hong Kong...11 yrs ago?
Mary: It was a completely unplanned development! I had taken a sample my friend Suzanne Johnston had wanted to have copied. The tailor and I made a few changes to the collar and hemline. I went shopping for a fabric that looked crisp but was washable and wrinkle free. It had the look of linen with none of the downside so I bought 50 yard bolts in about 5 colors and that's how the Mary G was born! I had no idea it would be such a good match for so many of my friends!
Molly: it’s remarkable that years later women would still be calling from all over the country about this very top?
Mary: Well it’s an easy fit and it's very comfortable and the style is a very simple old classic. The price is right too! But I am as surprised as you are! After my last trip nearly 10 years ago, my friend Mary Healy put me in touch with a friend of hers who owns a little textile factory in Hong Kong. He continues to produce the very same shirt for us.
Molly: okay, let’s backtrack. Can you paint a picture of what developing the Mary g was like?
Mary: My husband and I were on our second trip to Hong Kong. Before I left Palm Beach, I gathered a few pieces from my good customers to be copied, and I actually spent one splendid week of my life designing and redesigning tops and caftans. It was exhilarating. I bought the fabrics, worked with the tailors, found the buttons, and acted as my own model. Smart to have everything fit my body shape, just in case! I started with three sizes, small, medium and large. I have been all of those sizes in my life so I could relate!
Molly: what is your most memorable recollection from that Hong Kong trip outside of your shopping and designing adventures?
Mary: Ah so many fond memories. A date with my husband for dinner at the China Club. The trip up to the Peak at sunset. Shopping the hilly streets in Central. Stanley Market for gifts for grands! I have a picture of them all wearing a daisy dress I bought for each one that day. I have the photo here and will enclose a copy for you. And from my I-photos, I will send a few shots of my friends wearing Mary G . I hope they won’t mind my doing that. The most recent is of a customer I met in October 2019 on board a cruise ship in the Med. Such fun to spot her in her Mary G. while cruising the Spanish coastline!
Molly: sometimes things are all about timing and following your gut. You are very good at that. You also understand your customers and are always curious about learning from them. That’s certainly something I have learned from you. Thank you.
Mary: It's what I do. And guess I do it instinctively. I should probably be using the past tense though, as I am not doing much of it now. You and your 4 colleagues are carrying on this viable business even in the midst of Covid-19. I know how grateful and proud I am of you all…and to still be in this game at 75, and I know there are a lot of people who depend on Mildred Hoit for one stop shopping!
As Dame Vera Lynn sang so memorably during WW11, “I know we’ll meet again some sunny day!” I hope it’s soon!
Molly: (wrap up)
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