A Chat With February's Profile, Margaret Moraskie, vice president of e-commerce, Boston Proper
Catalog Success: Where's your company headquartered?
Margaret Moraskie: Boca Raton, Florida.
CS: When was the company established? Were catalogs mailed right away?
MM: Our company actually originated in 1951 as a retail chain called Mark, Fore & Strike, started by our president's father. That was established to be a resort store, so it was like north and south with the sun. We were in the Cape [Cod, Mass.] and the Hamptons [Long Island, N.Y.] in the summertime, and then Florida resort towns in the wintertime. That was expanded through the ’50s and ’60s, and the Mark, Fore & Strike catalog was started in the late ’70s by our founder's son. In the ’80s we had the Mark, Fore & Strike catalog and retail stores, and we acquired Boston Proper, which was basically a mailing list and a name from a company that had gone out of business.
Skip Hartzell, who's now our chief creative officer, and Michael Tiernan [chairman and CEO of Boston Proper] had this concept … because Mark, Fore & Strike was for an older customer, they wanted to target their own generation — the baby boomers. They found that there was a need for apparel, age-appropriate apparel, for the baby boomer woman who was busy and active. That was the concept behind Boston Proper.
When the name and mailing list became available on some old merchandise reports, they were able to acquire the company. They revamped that catalog and remailed it, and that has grown into today's Boston Proper. We also acquired at the time a home furnishings catalog called Charles Keath. In the late ’90s, early 2000s we made the decision to divest of Mark, Fore & Strike and Charles Keath because it had become apparent that Boston Proper was really the growth vehicle, and we wanted to put all of our infrastructure behind that brand. And that's exactly what we did — the first Boston Proper Web site came out in 1998, the first interactive Web site in ’99. After we divested, we all focused on Boston Proper, and it has grown into the brand that it is today.