Eleanor Bear

Eleanor Beard’s products are still available today .

“Eleanor Beard was a shrewd businesswoman, unique within her generation, who had figured out early on the benefits of reaching out and marketing directly to women. Her husband owned a general store, and with the Great Depression in full swing, he was often paid in wool by the local farmers who had no cash. The wool itself had little value, and so after cleaning and batting it, Eleanor took orders for quilts and commissioned local craftswomen, who would work from home, to make them. The gorgeous quilts became sought after in the luxury market, and soon, Eleanor opened her namesake studio, employing hundreds of talented needleworkers. The products expanded from quilts to include blanket covers, sheeting, table linens, bedclothes, and bath accessories – all of which stood apart from the mass-produced items found at department stores – to become family heirlooms that have been passed down from generation to generation. The success of the enterprise grew to include shops in New York, Chicago, and elsewhere, which Beard intended as social clubs where women could relax and socialize while they shopped.”

“Linens: For Every Room and Occasion” by Jane Scott Hodges