Elizabeth Mason and The Paper Bag Princess Vintage Couture
Please note that the use of the name The Paper Bag Princess and any variation thereof is a violation of the company’s World-Wide Trademark and is unlawful without the express written consent of Elizabeth M. Mason, and The Paper Bag Princess Inc.
Elizabeth Mason founded The Paper Bag Princess Vintage Couture in 1992 on the heels of her first reference book, The Rag Street Journal, The Ultimate Guide to Shopping Thrift and Resale Across North America, published by Henry Holt, New York. Mason says after taking time off from her position as an executive producer for a notable computer animation firm in Hollywood to write her first book, that she could not bear the thought of going back to work for someone else ever again and decided to take her chances as an entrepreneur, in search of her own personal history following her first love, and passion, vintage fashion.
Mason had acquired an impressive collection of fine vintage clothing over the years while traveling the globe working as a model and actress, having shopped every single thrift and vintage shop that lay in her path. Known by all who worked with her in those years as always arriving at her castings with the most unique ensemble, she sought out the world of vintage first as a way to set herself apart from the crowd and thus catching the eye of either the director or producers at a given casting, recalling that often it was the uniqueness of a beautiful dress that had won over the director. This gift would serve her well in future years as she has come to be recognized for dressing some of the world’s most notable celebrities for their important personal and red carpet appearances, from Julia Roberts, Jennifer Aniston, Renee Zellweger, to the young Mary Kate and Ashley Olson sisters.
Mason open her first boutique, The Paper Bag Princess, West Hollywood in May of 1995 in a very small venue (less than 300 square feet) that was know to a select group of die-hard vintage fans as ‘the little shop just behind the Mac Makeup flagship store’. Mac catered to the fashion and film industry offering a professional discount to all models and makeup artist and it was just this generous marketing policy that proved to be a big payoff for Mason’s first location bringing every supermodel, actress and industry professional straight to her boutique’s doorstep as well. Mason recalls fondly that many of her first clients once referred to her original location as just their little secret!
That little secret hit new heights in August of 1996 when Mac decided to move their West Hollywood flagship boutique leaving their location open for Mason’s acquisition. After just a single fast and furious first year in business Mason had built such a strong following that she was confident in her expansion into the spacious 2000 square foot boutique. The following Spring of 1997 Mason acquired the remaining 2400 square feet in the building and began offering boudoir style home furnishings to compliment her vintage collections, as well as a design and research department that catered to the fashion industry as they scoured the globe in search of vintage design inspiration.
In 2002 Mason released her second reference book, Valuable Vintage, The Insider’s Guide to Identifying and Pricing Important Vintage, published by Random House. Simultaneously she became a license Certified Appraiser with the Appraisers Association of America acquiring a specialty appraiser’s license for vintage clothing, costumes and textiles. In the same year she returned to her hometown of Toronto, Canada and opened her first Canadian boutique to rave reviews. It would appear that Toronto was finally ready for just such a vintage business and so were the ladies in the city! Between the serious fashionistas and the stream of celebrity clients who parade through Toronto on a regular basis to shoot any number of projects from television to major feature films, the Canadian boutique boasts an impressive clientele list.
Mason launched her company website in January of 1997, (see www.thepaperbagprincess.com) that presents an extensive online boutique offering her customers the opportunity to shop the boutique’s extensive designer vintage collections from the privacy of their home or office. Mason understood early on the power of the internet after years in computer animation production, and launched her production company Paper Bag Productions, in 2001, a multi-media company offering web deign and management, retail consulting and video production, with a interesting roster of clients such as celebrity fashion designer Jennifer,
Mason made another impressive move in the fall of 2004, taking her West Hollywood boutique to an amazing new location boosting a fantastic 4000 square foot space at the corner of Olympic and Robertson in the heart of Beverly Hills, with private rear entrances from its large parking lot which discretely caters to the needs of her very select clientele. As well as having a fabulous location and ample space to showcase Mason’s vast vintage couture, and contemporary collectible clothing collections, the new location offers a full service design research department, a private VIP and couture/museum collections salon, as well as an archival library of fashion and photography books, sketches and patterns, which are all available for research rentals.
Today the Mason’s two boutiques, Toronto and Beverly Hills are linked up through computer video conferencing enabling their clients to leisurely shop either boutique location for one of a kind items at the touch of a few computer keys.
“On December 31, 2010 a decision was made based on a multitude of ongoing issues to close the Toronto Boutique and refocus on the Flagship location in
Beverly Hills as well as the Contemporary Collection, Elizabeth Mason Couture.”
Ask if Mason is in town on any given day and her associates will have to check her busy calendar, for if she is not off on a delightful adventure of acquiring a new incredible private vintage estate, she is probably working with a major charity organization developing the program for their next big fashion fundraiser. Mason personal mandate is to live a life with a purpose greater than oneself, and is always open to lending her talents and important vintage collections for just the right cause.
With success comes social responsibility, and Mason has settled comfortably into her cause of choice and gives a portion of the proceeds of all of The Paper Bag Princess selected special Vintage Designer auctions on eBay, Inc. to The United Friends of The Children (UFC)*, a Los Angeles based nonprofit organization. UFC and its program, Bridges To Independence fills a critical void in Los Angeles County’s foster care system-the largest system in America. Each year approximately 1,000 youths are aged out of foster care at age 18, which as young adults they are at a pivotal stage in their life. Often these young people lack the resources, family ties and relationships to become truly self-sufficient. UFC/Bridges program assists emancipated young adults in attaining independence and self-reliance, whether they are headed for higher education or aspire to meaningful employment.
Unfortunately, approximately 40 to 50 % of emancipated foster youths become homeless or end up on the street, within a short period of time of leaving foster care. UFC/Bridges exists so that these young people will have access to a transitional support system including transitional housing and no-cost assistance in areas such as health concerns, education, legal issues and alternative affordable housing. In addition, a career center assists in job training and provides exposure to a range of job and career opportunities.
UFC/Bridges To Independence is a 501C3 nonprofit organization. If you or your organization would like to make a contribution or seek any further information please contact them directly. At (310) 410-2565 or write them at:
5701 West Slauson Avenue Suite 215,
Culver City CA 90230
Phone: (310) 338-3646
*Mason is very grateful to all of those silent angels who assisted her as a youth in the Canadian foster care system.
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