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September 06, 1986 - Image 73

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-09-06

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Our Israeli
West Bloomfield Designer
Sewing Success



ili Katz is full of
surprises. After a
visit to Israel eight
years ago, she came
home to Detroit with extra
baggage. She opened up the new
suitcase for her husband and out
fell a pile of knitted sweaters in
luxurious styles and fabrics.
"Where did you get those?"
asked her husband.
"I made them, and I'm going
into business," she replied.
Surprisingly, she marched into
Claire Pearone, in the Somerset
Mall, and sold them. Then she
sold her designs to stores in
Grosse Pointe, Rochester, New
York and California.
But, this was hardly Nili Katz's
first foray in the fashion and
design world. While growing up in
Haifa, she loved painting and
drawing. At about age 20, she
graduated from Oranim, a college
in Haifa, with a degree in art. She
then entered the army. After
military serviced, she worked as a
graphic artist in an advertising
agency in Haifa.
In 1965, she arrived in Detroit,
because her husband Uri Katz,
came to study at Wayne State
University. While he was
studying, she worked as a
teacher for two years at Shaarey
Zedek and Hillel Day School.
"About eight years ago, once

the kids were older, I decided to
do what I always wanted — move
back to art and fashion," says
Katz. With her Israeli contacts,
she began to design knitwear for
a small company in Israel. Katz
knew her designs would be
successful in the United States,
because the Israeli yarn is
washable and looks like silk.
"My idea was to create a line
that could take you from business
to leisure, to travel," she says.
She went to Israel twice a year to
design coordinating pants,
jackets, skirts and camisoles.
After the clothes were
manufactured in Israel, she sold
them to small boutiques in the
United States under Nili's Design.
After only two years, she received
a huge order — 1200 pieces to
the exclusive nationwide store,
Lillie Rubin.
She finally began going to New
York showrooms. "But, all along I
continued to sell it myself,
because the reaction from
different buyers gave me a
guideline of what was good and
not good," states Katz.
She encountered her first
major problem, when she
decided to change her knits to
make them different. Since the
Israeli company wanted to keep
the designs similar, Katz knew

Continued On Page 80

August 1986


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